Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae in the genus Arthrospira that usually serves as a vegan source of protein and iron. It is found in oceans and salt lakes in subtropical areas and is available in powder or capsule/flake form.
Spirulina has a relatively neutral flavor that some people find slightly bitter. Spirulina powder can be added to smoothies, sprinkled on salads and soups, blended into a morning porridge, baked with, or mixed into a glass of juice or water and ingested straight.
Spirulina can help lower total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and triglycerides levels. Additionally, it is effective in improving blood lipid profiles, preventing inflammation and oxidative stress, and protecting against cardiovascular disease. The cardiovascular benefits of spirulina are due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
The alga has been linked to weight loss, lower blood pressure levels, enhanced muscle strength and endurance, support for anemia, and potential anti-cancer properties. It has shown promise in maintaining gut health, with research indicating it helps preserve gut function during aging and preserve a healthy gastrointestinal microbial community.
Some studies have also found spirulina to be beneficial in the prevention and management of diabetes and in reducing allergy symptoms. Likewise, it can boost metabolism and support mental health by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain. For having tryptophan an amino acid that may help prevent and control some mental health disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, eating and anxiety disorders, and schizophrenia.
Spirulina, despite its many benefits, also comes with potential risks. Growth in marine environments can result in the accumulation of harmful substances like heavy metals and microcystins, which can harm the liver. Spirulina also has anticoagulant effects, so people with clotting disorders or taking blood thinners should be cautious.
It contains phenylalanine, which can harm people with phenylketonuria (PKU), and those with autoimmune disorders may experience adverse reactions. To ensure safety, check for third-party testing and follow the recommended dose on the product label. Supplements should be taken as recommended, not arbitrarily.
The recommended usage of spirulina varies based on the product label, ranging from 1 to 19 grams a day for up to two months, with a generally safe profile in various conditions. It is crucial not to exceed the recommended dose and avoid using spirulina if you have an allergy or sensitivity to it or its ingredients.