What is Spirulina Protein?
Spirulina proteinis a dietary supplement that consists mainly of cyanobacteria, named because of the blue-green color that the spirulina algae have when viewed under a microscope. These spirulina algae are very adaptable and can be found in a wide variety of water forms such as fresh water, salt water and tropical springs among others. This makes it relatively easy to cultivate them, a process which is usually done in artificial raceway ponds.
The Benefits of Taking Spirulina Supplements
Though there are various kinds of algae that have been cultivated for practical use, spirulina has been singled out because of its powerful nutritional value. What makes spirulina proteinso potent is its ability to be easily digested and absorbed by the body. This is doubly important for those who are suffering from malnutrition, as their intestines cannot effectively take in nutrients. Among the nutrients that spirulina contains are:
- Beta-carotene, which is known to help with eye problems due to the lack of Vitamin A
- Essential amino acids, in almost the same amounts as the proteins found in meat and milk
- Small amounts of vitamin B12, which plays a key role in metabolism and nerve functions
- Iron, which is vital in all biological systems
- Antioxidants that help neutralize free-radical compounds in our bodies
- Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA), a fatty acid that has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties
Aside from these, people claim that spirulina protein has other potential health benefits like:
- Boosting the immune system
- Providing protection against allergies
- Combating infections like HIV, herpes and influenza, among others
- Suppressing the appetite to help in weight loss programs
- Maintaining good blood sugar conditions for diabetics
These claims, however, are backed up by inconclusive scientific evidence, and as such, spirulina supplements should not be expected to produce the aforementioned results.
Possible Spirulina Side Effects
Because spirulina is a type of cyanobacteria, it is possible for it to be contaminated by microcystins, substances that are toxic to
humans. Spirulina can also absorb some heavy metals, depending on where it is grown, which is why it is very important to buy products only from trusted brands.
Spirulina contains large amounts of phenylalanine, an essential amino acid. Because of this, people with phenylketonuria, a rare condition which renders the body unable to metabolize the amino acid, should avoid taking spirulina. Otherwise, the phenylalanine can build up in the brain, causing brain damage. Since spirulina has, to some degree, been shown to stimulate the immune system, it is best to stay clear of it in case you have autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis or lupus.
How to Take Spirulina
Spirulina comes in capsules, tablets, juices or in powder form and can be used appropriately as the consumer desires. The standard dose for adults is around 500 mg per day, although this can vary. Spirulina has also been used in children, without any noticeable harmful side effects. However, it is best to consult a knowledgeable health expert first to find out the proper dosage of spirulina protein for kids, or if you are taking any other medications.