Spirulina, a blue-green alga, is an option for people to take as a dietary supplement. Spirulina is considered a superfood because of its nutritional content and health benefits.
Spirulina is an excellent dietary supplement for vegetarians and vegans because it contains vitamins and protein.
Research suggests it has antioxidant and inflammation-fighting properties and the ability to help regulate the immune system.
In this article, the Houston weight loss doctor examines 13 health benefits spirulina may bring to your diet.
1. Great nutritional profile
Spirulina can be used to increase the intake of vitamins and protein.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) states that one teaspoon or seven grams (g) of dried spirulina contains is sufficient.
- 20.3 calories
- 4.02 g protein
- 1.67g carbohydrate
- 0.54 g fat
- 8.4 mg (mg) calcium
- 2 mg iron
- 13.6 mg magnesium
- 8.26 mg of Phosphorus
- 95.2 mg potassium
- 73.5 mg sodium
- Vitamin C – 0.7 mg
It also contains vitamins B6, K, thiamin, and riboflavin.
Spirulina is rich in antioxidants such as phycocyanin, a blue-green pigment.
The body produces free radicals through natural processes and exposure to harmful substances like alcohol, tobacco, and certain foods. They can cause tissue damage, inflammation, and even some cancers.
Antioxidants like those found in spirulina may help fight free radicals and protect the body from damage.
2. Eye health
Spirulina is rich in the antioxidant beta carotene. Vitamin A is converted from beta carotene by the body, which plays a vital role in eye health.
In research published in 2019, scientists gave mice a standard diet and a diet with 20% spirulina for four weeks. After that, the scientists exposed the mice for 1 hour to white light.
Spirulina was more effective in protecting the retinas and photoreceptors of mice than those that ate it. Although this suggests that spirulina may be able to protect the eyes of humans, more research is necessary.
It is important to note that nutrients can vary among products and that products used in experiments might not be the same products available to consumers. USDA found that the tested spirulina product did not contain zeaxanthin or beta carotene.
3. Oral health
Spirulina is effective in treating and preventing gum disease and other problems related to oral health.
In 2013, scientists treated 64 sites of gum disease with scaling and root planing and applied a spirulina gel to 33 sites. All sites showed improvement in pocket depth after 120 days. However, pockets treated with spirulina had a significantly higher rate.
Leukoplakia refers to a condition in which lesions develop in the mouth. This is usually caused by tobacco use. It can sometimes become cancerous. Forty-four patients with leukoplakia were studied in a small study. They consumed 1 g per day of spirulina. Twenty participants reported that their lesions disappeared after 12 months. Nine participants discovered their lesions had returned after stopping taking the supplements for one year.
Different types of algae may benefit oral health because they have antimicrobial properties. They could help treat or prevent dental caries and other fungal and bacterial infections.
4. Losing weight
According to a 2020 review, spirulina could be a good option for reducing:
- Body mass index (BMI).
- Body fat
- waist circumference
- Blood lipids
One reason could be that spirulina ingredients prevent the small intestines from absorbing as many fats.
However, more research is needed to confirm these benefits, including more extensive clinical trials.
5. Improve your gut health
Animal studies have shown that spirulina may help improve gut health as we age. An older study on mice has shown that spirulina may help preserve healthy gut bacteria as we age.
Spirulina is low in fiber, so it should be eaten with other high-fiber foods.
Further research is required to determine if spirulina benefits the human gut.
6. How to manage glucose levels
Spirulina could help with blood sugar management, which is crucial for those who have diabetes. However, more research is required.
According to a 2018 review, spirulina significantly affected fasting blood glucose levels.
Researchers gave type 1 diabetic mice spirulina oral extract in a 2017 animal study. The mice showed the following results:
- lower blood sugar
- Higher insulin levels
- improved liver enzyme markers
These findings suggest that spirulina may play a protective role against type 1 diabetes. However, more research is required.
7. Lowering cholesterol
Spirulina extract can help lower cholesterol. High levels of cholesterol can increase your risk of developing heart disease.
According to a 2016 review, spirulina supplements may positively impact blood lipids. These are the fats found in the blood. Researchers found that spirulina supplements can reduce total cholesterol and low-density lipoproteins (LDL), which are “bad” cholesterol, while increasing high-density lipoproteins (HDL), which are “good” cholesterol.
Researchers found that consuming 1 g of spirulina per day reduced total cholesterol by three months in a 2013 study.
8. Lowering blood pressure
Spirulina can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
Spirulina was found to lower blood pressure in overweight or hypertensive people in a small study.
How can you naturally lower your blood pressure?
9. Heart disease prevention
Heart disease is linked to high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
According to 2018 reviews, spirulina may help prevent heart disease and chronic inflammation. Its effects on blood pressure, glucose, and lipid levels could explain this.
10. Increase metabolism
Spirulina can help increase a person’s basal metabolic rate. Higher metabolic rates may lead to more calories burned, which can help with weight loss.
A 2014 study found that people who consumed 6g of spirulina per day had beneficial metabolic effects. They also experienced weight loss and a better quality of life.
All of the participants had nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Further research is required to determine if spirulina can boost metabolism in those without this condition.
11. Management of allergic rhinitis
The inside of a person’s nose can swell if they have allergies to dust, pollen, or pets. This is allergic rhinitis. Some evidence suggests that spirulina may be able to reduce the symptoms of this condition.
According to a 2013 study, spirulina may reduce nasal inflammation and histamine levels. It may be more effective than a placebo for treating allergic rhinitis symptoms, such as:
- Runny nose
- nasal congestion
Researchers gave 53 patients with allergic rhinitis 2 g of spirulina platesnsis per day to researchers in 2020. Others received 10 g of Zyrtec (cetirizine) per day. Although spirulina may be an alternative treatment, more research is needed.
12. Antitoxic actions
There is a possibility of getting sick from contaminated water or other pollutants in some areas. In 2006, some researchers suggested that spirulina may offer a treatment option.
A 2016 review revealed evidence that spirulina has antitoxic properties, which could make it useful in combination with other remedies for counteracting pollution like:
Although the authors suggested that spirulina might be used in clinical treatment for poisoning due to pollutant poisonings, more extensive studies are required to confirm this.
13. Mental health support
According to a 2018 study, spirulina may be able to treat mood disorders.
Spirulina is believed to be rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that helps produce serotonin. Mental health is influenced by serotonin.
Low serotonin levels can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders. Supporting mental well-being could be as simple as taking tryptophan supplements to maintain your serotonin levels.
However, further studies are required.
Before using spirulina for mental or physical well-being, it is a good idea to consult a physician.
Spirulina, a blue-green alga product, is available.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that people have taken up to 19 g daily for a maximum of two months and as high as 10 g per person for six months.
Do not exceed the recommended dose on the product label.
Are there any interactions?
Although there is no evidence to support a safe upper intake limit for spirulina use, the NIH warns that excessive consumption can cause:
Spirulina is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, some studies have found high levels of contaminants within spirulina products.
These can cause liver damage, vomiting and weakness, shock, and death.
Spirulina might not be safe to consume:
- during pregnancy
- For children
- Multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis because it can increase immune activation
- Before or after surgery as it can affect blood glucose levels
Talking to a doctor before taking spirulina is a good idea. They can ensure that it does not interact with any other drugs and that they are safe to use.
They should also ensure they get spirulina or other supplements from a trusted source.
The FDA has issued warnings about misleading claims regarding products sold online that contain spirulina.
Some people have had allergic reactions to spirulina. An allergic reaction can lead to anaphylaxis which can be life-threatening and cause anaphylactic shock. Anybody with difficulty breathing or swelling after eating spirulina should seek immediate medical attention.
How to include spirulina into your diet
Spirulina can be purchased in tablet or powder form.
People can use powdered cannabis for:
- It can be added to smoothies to give the drink a green hue.
- Sprinkle spirulina powder in soups and salads
- Mix it with other healthy ingredients to make energy balls
- Mix a tablespoon of the mixture into juices made from fruit and vegetables
You can also use spirulina in tablet form as a dietary supplement.
Questions frequently asked
These are some common questions about spirulina.
What does spirulina do for the body?
There is evidence that spirulina may have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, cholesterol-lowering, and antioxidant properties. Although it may be used to treat and manage gum disease, depression, and other conditions such as depression, more research is necessary to confirm these claims.
What does spirulina do for weight?
Research suggests spirulina may help reduce body fat, waist circumference, and appetite. This could make it a valuable part of a weight management program.
Is spirulina safe?
Always buy from a trusted source, ensure it has been tested, and follow all instructions. It might not be safe for pregnant women, children, and those suffering from an autoimmune disorder. There have been some studies that found contamination in spirulina products. This could pose a danger.
Spirulina is rich in nutrients and antioxidants, which may make it suitable for treating or preventing various diseases.
Doctors will need to do more research before recommending spirulina for any condition.
Spirulina is a natural supplement that can aid in weight loss. Because there are contamination risks, they should only buy products from reputable sources.