Spirulina is one of nature’s most complete foods. A treasure of nutrients and a tremendous source of proteins and powerful antioxidants, it is rich in vitamins, fatty acids & minerals – a true gift of nature. Spirulina boosts our immune system thanks to its antioxidants, specifically, the phycocyanin that helps protect from viral and bacterial infections.
Additional health benefits of spirulina:
- Improve vitality
- Boost energy
- Reduces fatigue
- Eliminates toxins
- Improves exercise recovery
READ MORE: 13 Health Benefits Of Spirulina
Spirulina offers a large spectrum of nutrients: proteins, vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, pigments, and essential fatty acids all of which make it one of the most complete foods known on earth. Unlike algae and plants, spirulina, like cyanobacteria, doesn’t have any cellulosic wall, thus making its nutrients very easily absorbable by the body (high bioavailability).
Additionally, spirulina has more proteins, beta carotene, iron, and gamma-linolenic acid than any other food that has been discovered to date, from either a vegetable or animal source.
Spirulina contains all the essential amino acids, even those the body does not manufacture but produced only by alimentation. Spirulina contains an average of 65% protein.
The presence of palmitic, palmitoleic, stearic, oleic, linoleic, and a very high proportion of the famous gamma-linolenic acid, also called GLA (omega 6), make up for a perfect balance between saturated and unsaturated fatty acids.
Cyanobacteria, the family that spirulina belongs to, gets its name from the blue pigment known as phycocyanin. Often referred to as blue-green algae. Cyanobacteria is home to the powerful phycocyanin – a potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immunity enhancer.
Phycocyanin increases the oxygen content in blood and muscles, thus making spirulina a powerful nourishment source. Chlorophyll is spirulina’s green pigment. All plants contain it, and it is responsible for constantly carrying out the process of photosynthesis. Spirulina acts as a controller of digestion and it guards intestinal bacteria, as well as aiding in the cleansing of the body.
Spirulina has 10 to 15 times more carotenoids than carrots! Great for the skin and the eyes, they contain a high level of beta carotene, which is the precursor of vitamin A.
Be mindful that spirulina contains all kinds of B vitamins as well as having a considerable amount of vitamin K.
Spirulina is rich in magnesium, potassium, calcium, zinc, iron, and phosphorus, and also contains detoxification enzymes including SOD (Superoxide dismutase), a highly effective antioxidant that can be used to combat viral illnesses.
Spirulina contains all of these necessary nutrients and their natural amount works together to provide us with a large number of advantages! A true gift of nature.
Is Spirulina Vegan?
Vegans invariably need to be on their guard when it comes to what they put in their bodies if they want to be sure of avoiding the strange and seemingly ubiquitous use of animal-based items.
Things are relatively simple when it comes to spirulina though and we can say that yes, spirulina is vegan. There are a couple of things to note here though. Firstly, and most importantly, whilst spirulina itself is vegan, that isn’t to say that all commercially available formulations of it are fine for vegans to consume.
Given its status as a health food and its links with veganism and vegetarianism we suspect that the vast majority are. However, it isn’t impossible that some spirulina-based products could include some animal products or other. For example, if you are taking spirulina in tablet or capsule form, gelatine might have been used.
Check the label because if it isn’t marked as at least vegetarian you might want to investigate further (assuming you aren’t consuming pure spirulina); if it is labeled vegetarian but not vegan it might also be wise to check if you want to be absolutely certain.
Spirulina Is For Who?
- Athletic People: Spirulina helps in muscle recovery after exercise, reducing cramps or muscle stiffness, and strengthening the body’s endurance. The structure of phycocyanin present in spirulina is close to the human hemoglobin and acts as a natural “dopant” that facilitates blood oxygen circulation.
- The Elderly: Spirulina helps prevent nutritional deficiencies caused by aging and replenishes energy.
- Tired People. During any challenging period or stress in life, spirulina helps keep or regain vitality and energy.
- Vegetarian / Vegan People: Spirulina has a high content of proteins, including all types of essential amino acids that the body cannot produce and therefore must come from food.
- People on a Slimming Diet: The presence of phenylalanine in spirulina helps to feel full and avoid cravings.
- Breastfeeding Women, Children, and Growing Teenagers:?Spirulina is taken for its complete content of nutrients.
- People recovering from Sickness or Surgery: Spirulina as an immune system booster contributes to a speedy recovery. Its high concentrations of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties are an effective shield against bacterial and viral infections.
- Night-Time Workers: Night-time workers will appreciate the boost of energy provided by spirulina, helping them fight lethargy and drowsiness.
- Students: Spirulina helps students during exam periods by helping maintain focus and keeping the brain sharp (always in combination with a good diet and enough sleep).
- People Suffering from Anemia or other Nutritional Deficiencies: As a nutrient-rich food, spirulina combats anemia, one of the most common dietary deficiencies in the world. Spirulina has the highest iron content compared to any other food!
- Diabetics: Studies show that spirulina helps regulate blood sugar levels. However, spirulina should not be treated or taken as medication. Always consult your doctor if you suffer from a sickness or a condition. See below for precautions or contraindications.
- Cancer / VIH patients: Spirulina is helpful for global wellness by boosting the immune system. Moreover, spirulina absorbs heavy metals by chelation. However, one should not treat or take it as medication. Always ask your doctor if you suffer from a sickness or a condition. (People under chemotherapy treatment must not take spirulina at the same time as their treatment. The detoxifying effect of spirulina may decrease the efficacy of the chemotherapy).
If you take spirulina to fill an iron deficiency, don’t forget to combine your spirulina intake with fresh fruits or vegetables, as Vitamin C helps iron absorption in the body. Avoid taking coffee or tea within 2 hours of taking spirulina because caffeine prevents iron absorption.
Organic Spirulina Capsules – Packed with vegetarian protein, marine omega fatty acids, chlorophyll, essential amino acids, antioxidants, and vitamins, Spirulina is nature’s ultimate wholefood multi-vitamin. This energizing superfood is easy to digest and supports optimal health to multiple body systems. Purium uses the highest quality organic spirulina. The capsules are a convenient way to consume this nutrient-dense whole food on the-go.
Issues With Spirulina
Aside from the lack of really robust evidence to back up the claims made about this blue-green algae, there are a number of other issues to address in relation to spirulina.
Value for Money
Let us begin with one of the key questions that underpins most purchasing decisions: does spirulina offer value for money? Obviously if money is no object then feel free to skip on, but most vegans wanting to know whether they should take spirulina are sure to at least consider its price.
Much as we have said that spirulina could be of great help to those in the developing world, at present, it remains an expensive supplement. Whilst cheaper versions are now sold in some mainstream supermarkets, even they are far from cheap.
There are a range of products available in health food shops and our favorite online vegan supermarkets. Now, whilst you might only use a relatively small amount per serving or each day, that is still a lot of money for many people.
As cultivation becomes more widespread and demand grows that price could well drop but right now some may question whether spirulina really offers value for money.
Yes, it is nutrient dense but it isn’t a food as such and all the nutrients it offers are available in foods that many vegans eat anyway and that are far more affordable.
Typically spirulina is consumed in relatively small amounts. That’s good for your wallet but it does mean that some claims about the health benefits and micronutrients may be overstated.
Whilst you would easily eat 80g of lentils, quinoa or chickpeas, or 30g of nuts and seeds, or 100g or more of bread or potatoes in a given meal, when it comes to spirulina a more typical serving size is as little as two or three grams; whilst 10g would be at the higher end of the spectrum and few would ever have more than 15g in any one go. So, whilst 100g might well provide all the manganese you need, that isn’t especially great if you only consume 5g of the powder.
Interaction with Drugs
The last issue is perhaps the most serious and that concerns the way in which spirulina might interact with prescription drugs and possibly have adverse impacts on those people who have problems with their immune system.
The vast majority of studies have concluded that the algae is by and large safe but if you are taking blood clotting drugs, have any liver or kidney problems, or have a weak immune system it is certainly best to consult your doctor first.
The algae tends to naturally filter out toxins and heavy metals but these, including dangerous microcystins, have been discovered in some spirulina products.
Thankfully, this is exceptionally uncommon and if you buy your spirulina from a reputable retailer that will certainly minimize any risk further.
Purium’s Organic Spirulina is a rich, whole-food source of vegetarian protein, chlorophyll, essential amino acids, antioxidants, and vitamins. It contains an abundant amount of phycocyanin, a unique, blue-green pigment that may support healthy immune function.
Issues with Nutrient Values
As spirulina is a natural product the precise amounts of each nutrient can vary. However, a bigger issue is that as this remains a relatively niche product and so there appears to be a lot of disagreement on precise values.
Foods can be labeled using “generally established and accepted data” but none seems to exist for spirulina as yet in the UK. The US Department of Agriculture helpfully provides access to all the data they hold and many websites, including everyone’s favorite online encyclopedia, have used this information when discussing spirulina.
However, the sums simply don’t add up using those figures, which may or may not be due to some of them being taken from 1984 and others being added more recently. The USDA claims that powdered spirulina (which, incidentally, it erroneously lists as seaweed!) contains 290 calories per 100g. However, it also states that 100g contains 57.47g of protein and 7.72g of fat. At four and nine calories per gram respectively, that alone comes to 299.36 calories and that’s before we even get to the 20+ grams of carbs.
Clearly something is incorrect here, which makes us loathe to use the values they claim for the other micronutrients. Similar (albeit not quite as pronounced) problems are found with the NHS-utilized NutraCheck site. The USDA provides some slightly more up to date information for branded spirulina products and whilst this is better, we still have serious doubts over its accuracy.
As such we have left many of the values we mention quite open, suggesting a range typically based on an approximate average of a variety of sources. For most people, the precise quantities won’t be crucial but if you are looking to follow a very controlled eating plan, please consult the manufacturer of the spirulina you are using.
In conclusion, we would say the following when it comes to spirulina in general and with regards vegans in particular. Spirulina is vegan in its pure form. It is highly nutritious and a good way to get lots of vitamins and minerals without consuming much food or energy.
Those on a budget may be better obtaining their nutrients through a healthy, balanced, vegan diet. It may help with many health issues but the science suggests it is best for weight loss and battling anemia and iron deficiency. It is generally accepted to be a safe food supplement.
Purium Products That Contain Spirulina:
- Organic Spirulina Powder
- Cocoa Mint Spirulina Powder
- Spirulina Capsules
- EPI Genius Kids
- Super Xanthin
- Power Shake
- Green Spectrum
- Super Meal
- More Greens
- Bee Energetic