Spirulina is one of the cyanobacteria, also known colloquially as blue-green algae. According to the oldest fossil finds to date, the existence of cyanobacteria can be proven as early as 3.5 billion years ago. They were probably already involved in the oxygen enrichment of the primordial atmosphere and thus influenced the current composition of the earth’s atmosphere. You can now buy spirulina in powder, tablet or flake form. The  algae  are advertised by the manufacturers as a true “superfood”. But how healthy is spirulina really and can its consumption also have side effects?

Walkable Spirulina Algae

The spirulina algae is not only very old, it can also change its appearance: it takes on different shapes depending on the nutrient content and pH value of the water. It is therefore also unclear whether the 35 different species, of which Spirulina platensis is the best known, do not all belong to the same species.

Spirulina algae are native to highly alkaline salt lakes. Since the spirulina is at home in subtropical to tropical waters, it is mainly distributed in Australia, Central America, Southeast Asia and Africa.

Spirulina: Miracle Algae or Natural Placebo?

Similar to the freshwater algae  chlorella  , spirulina is sold dried in the form of powder, tablets or capsules as a food supplement in health food stores and health food stores. You can also buy spirulina online. In Mexico and parts of Africa, the spirulina algae has been used for consumption for centuries. Spirulina first caught our attention in the early 1980’s when Spirulina pills were touted as a new, natural miracle weight-loss drug. However, clinical studies have not yet been able to clearly prove that you can lose weight with spirulina.

The situation is similar with other diseases and ailments for which spirulina algae are said to have a great effect with practically no side effects. Spirulina is said to have a positive effect on cardiovascular diseases,  diabetesallergies  and strengthening the immune system. Experts remain skeptical, however, because in many respects more research is needed to fully understand the effects and side effects of spirulina.

Previous studies, which are intended to prove the supposed effects of spirulina on health, have too many methodological flaws to be meaningful. In addition, some studies only examined effects in the laboratory or on animals, so the results cannot simply be extrapolated to humans.

Spirulina: effect

The fact is: Spirulina algae have an enormously high proportion of  protein  . The proportion is around 60 percent. However, spirulina powder and tablets do not play a significant role in covering the daily requirement. Because the recommended maximum daily dose of Sperulina preparations can contain a maximum of 5.4 grams of protein – an adult woman weighing 60 kilograms, however, needs around 50 grams of protein daily, a 70 kilogram man around 56 grams.

In addition, spirulina capsules and spirulina tablets are mostly promoted as vitamin donors, calcium donors, iron donors and magnesium donors because they are rich in these ingredients. However, it is often concealed that the spirulina alga has a relatively high vitamin B12 value, but only 20 percent of it can be utilized by the human body.

dietary supplement  with spirulina tablets hardly leads to the desired positive effect in this respect. Research into side effects of spirulina is just as vague as research into its effects.

Spirulina: side effects and risks

There are voices that state that side effects do not actually occur at all, since the spirulina algae have been consumed and tested for centuries. Other sources, on the other hand, state possible  allergic reactions.

What is certain is that spirulina tablets, spirulina capsules and spirulina powder from chemical companies are sometimes enriched with ingredients such as biocomplexes that are synthetically produced. If there is an  intolerance  to the natural complexes, serious side effects can result. With all tablets, capsules and powder variations, you should therefore always pay attention to the ingredients.

Algae can also be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, PAHs for short. These are considered  carcinogenic  and are believed to form if the spirulina is not properly dried. Maximum values ​​for PAHs in products with spirulina have therefore been set within the European Union since 2015. The European rapid alert system for  food  and feed has also repeatedly found a high level of sulfate contamination in spirulina. These can also lead to allergic reactions.

In any case, spirulina is not suitable for people suffering from the  metabolic disease phenylketonuria  . The algae preparations contain the  amino acid  phenylalanine, which can have a negative effect on the disease.

Natural detoxification with spirulina?

In addition to the generally advertised effect of spirulina, the alga is sometimes praised for other reasons: Due to its ingredients, algae are often used as a natural detoxifier. In the context of medical and dental treatments, spirulina capsules are sometimes used, for example in amalgam restorations. Because spirulina absorbs heavy metals and absorbs mercury particularly well – a fact that can lead to undesirable side effects, because if the water from which it was harvested has an increased proportion of mercury, lead or cadmium, it can get through consumption causes physical stress.

Spirulina algae are said to have a mitigating effect on the side effects associated with body detoxification. A combination of the algae Chlorella and Spirulina is usually recommended here.

Blue Spirulina

Although the spirulina algae is also called blue-green algae, it is naturally dark green to blue-green in colour. However, there are also products with the label “Blue Spirulina” on the market. According to the manufacturer’s instructions, the phycocyanin dye contained in the algae was extracted from these. This dye is responsible for the blue color of the products.

In  terms of taste  and effect, the blue Spirulina does not differ from the “ordinary” Spirulina. Because of its intense color, however, it is often used to visually spice up dishes such as  yoghurt  or bowls.

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