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Spirulina Powder Benefits

Spriulina - you know what it is, you have seen it in stores and online. Now you might be wondering, what are the health benefits of this blue spirulina powder? Keep reading to go through some of the evidence based research on spirulina and its possible health benefits.

Key Takeaways

  • Spirulina is a blue-green algae that has been considered a superfood for its health benefits
  • Some proposed health benefits of spirulina in the research is that it may provide antioxidant and antiinflammatory properties, may improve cholesterol and blood lipid profile and it may help with exercise performance and weight maintenance
  • More research studies are needed on spirulina to find an optimal daily dose and to prove its health benefits

What Is Spirulina?

Spirulina is a blue-green algae found in central Africa and Mexico. It can grow in saltwater, marshes, lakes, or freshwater.

Most spirulina for consumption is grown in greenhouses. It is considered cyanobacteria, obtains its energy from photosynthesis, and the prefix cyan- means “greenish-blue color” in greek.

It has been considered a “superfood,” and it packs a whole bunch of nutrition in a serving size as small as one tablespoon.

One tablespoon has 20 calories and 4 grams of protein, and it is low in fat, carbohydrates and a good source of some B vitamins and iron.

Health Benefits Of Spirulina

In addition to its nutritional profile, here is a list of the proposed benefits of spirulina.

More research is still needed to prove these effects, but we will dive deep into the currently available literature on some topics in the next part of the article.

  • Antioxidant properties 
  • Improve markers of inflammation and support immunity
  • Improve triglycerides 
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Improve cholesterol and LDL levels
  • Increase HDL levels 
  • Improve liver enzymes 
  • Appetite and weight regulation 
  • Prevent allergic rhinitis and asthma 
  • Improved strength and cardio training 
  • Blood sugar control 
  • Improve chronic pain 
  • Oral cancer symptom prevention 
  • Anti-cancer properties 
  • Maintain eye health
Spirulina powder algae

May Have Antioxidant And Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Chronic diseases and autoimmune conditions are associated with chronic inflammation. The immune system remains in overdrive long after treating the illness or injury.

Spirulina has been studied for some anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Keeping inflammation and oxidative stress low can both help manage autoimmune conditions and prevent chronic diseases before they start.

Interleukin 6 (IL6) is a pro-inflammatory cytokine released at the site of inflammation. When IL6 remains elevated, that’s usually a sign of chronic inflammation or an autoimmune condition such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

One study was completed on over 70 elderly women with high cholesterol. They were provided either placebo or 7.5 grams of spirulina for 8 weeks. 

After the eight weeks were completed, researchers found a significant decrease in IL6 levels and IL6 production.

This study demonstrated a similar effect, but they also looked at interleukin 2 (IL2) levels, another cytokine type that helps improve the immune system.

Eight grams of spirulina was provided to the intervention group for 4 months in this double-blind, placebo-controlled study. After the 4 months, there was a significant increase in IL2 levels and a significant decrease in IL6 levels.

Lastly, a significant decrease was seen in IL6 in a study on obese males with well-controlled hypertension (high blood pressure) after 2 grams of spirulina for 3 months compared with placebo.

May Help Improve Blood Lipid Profile, Triglycerides and Total Cholesterol

Blood tests for cholesterol, lipid profile, and triglycerides are markers healthcare providers use to assess risk for cardiovascular disease. It is optimal to keep these markers within normal limits, and some studies indicate spirulina could be used as a functional food to help with that.

Some of the studies above also had endpoints of assessing spirulina’s effect on blood lipid profiles.

The first study above in 70 elderly women given 7.5 grams of spirulina also showed a decrease in total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels.

The next study using 8 grams of spirulina per day in the intervention group showed a decrease in total cholesterol in both males and females.

The last study above showed a decrease in IL6 levels along with a decrease in LDL levels in obese patients with hypertension.

Thirty-seven subjects with type 2 diabetes were provided either 8 grams of spirulina for 12 weeks or placebo.

At the end of the 12 weeks, there was a significant reduction in triglyceride levels. The effect seemed to be greater in those who had high triglyceride levels, to begin with.

Possible Help With Allergy Symptoms

Seasonal allergies happen when the immune system perceives environmental components to be harmful. Spirulina’s effects on seasonal allergies can act similarly to that of its anti-inflammatory effects above.

A study titled “The effects of spirulina on allergic rhinitis” looked at spirulina supplementation and its effects on seasonal allergies. They found a significant decrease, compared to the placebo, in symptoms such as sneezing, itching, and congestion.

Another study looked at spirulina supplementation versus another allergy medication and compared symptoms before and after treatment with each. The spirulina group dose was two grams over a total of 8 weeks.

At the end of the study, they found that spirulina was significantly more effective in improving congestion and runny nose.

The study also showed a decrease in inflammatory markers in the spirulina group compared to the control group, even though both groups did not have elevated numbers to begin with.

Green smoothie with spirulina

Possible Anticancer Components

One biologically active component of spirulina that has been studied is called phycocyanin. Phycocyanin is what helps give spirulina its notable blue-green color.

It is thought to have anti-cancer effects, such that it is thought to regulate the cell cycle in tumor cells to prevent tumor growth and induce cancer cell death.

Spirulina supplementation was given to patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment in this clinical trial. They were given 900mg of spirulina during their first two cycles of chemotherapy.

Those in the treatment group had a significantly lower rate of bone marrow suppression after treatment with spirulina during chemotherapy than placebo.

Oral submucous fibrosis (OMFS) is a precancerous lesion in the mouth. Spirulina 1 gram a day seemed to be effective in reducing some of the side effects of this condition.

Much more research is needed regarding spirulina, phycocyanin, and cancer treatment, but we can be hopeful that this can be a future combination therapy to alleviate chemo-causing side effects or even prevent cancer before it starts.

Weight Management

Maintaining a healthy weight is important in preventing chronic diseases.

A study that we already spoke about above provided obese patients with 2 grams of spirulina a day for 3 months. They sound a significant reduction in weight, body mass index, and waist circumference in the spirulina-treated group compared to placebo.

Another research study showed that one gram of spirulina per day could significantly reduce appetite.

This shows that spirulina may be used alongside a healthy diet to help with weight loss, but more research is needed.

May Enhance Exercise Performance

One study shows that spirulina may help with long-distance cardiovascular exercise.

A small, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was done in which males were provided 6 grams of spirulina a day or a placebo.

They found that time to fatigue after a two-hour run was significantly longer than the placebo group, they also saw a decrease in carbohydrate and fat oxidation rates.

How Can You Incorporate Spirulina Into Your Diet?

Excited about spirulina powder benefits yet? There are a few different ways spirulina can be incorporated into the diet.

One common way is to take it in powder form. It can be mixed with ice water, juice, beverages, or foods like yogurt.

Some say it does have an acquired taste, so blending it in a smoothie with other fruits, vegetables, and milk could be a good way to hide the taste and give your morning smoothie a beautiful color.

Spirulina can also be taken in tablet form. This could be a good option if you do not like how spirulina tastes in powder form.

Although, multiple tablets may need to be taken daily to meet the serving size listed on the bottle.

Holding supergreen tonik

Green Powders and Spirulina

Spirulina is often an ingredient in green powders. Green powders can be an efficient, tastier way to get in spirulina than plain powder or tablet form. 

Green powders can be more efficient because they can also contain other superfood ingredients. For example, green powders usually contain kale, spinach, cauliflower, or broccoli which are no doubt important in a healthy diet.

Green powders are not a substitute for a diet rich in these vegetables; they can support an already healthy diet and close nutritional gaps. They are usually high in vitamins and minerals.

They also can contain fruit powders, like blueberry, pineapple, or even garlic.

Some contain enzymes to support digestion, immune-boosting compounds, or adaptogens. Probiotics and prebiotics can be included in green powders as well. 

The combination of these ingredients all together plus spirulina, can help support immunity, provide antioxidants, and possibly help with sleep and reduce stress.

Supergreen Tonik is a greens powder that reviewers say can do all that plus more.

The Nootropic blend that contains ashwagandha and rhodiola may help reduce stress and anxiety throughout the day and improve sleep at night.

The immune blend can give the immune system that extra boost to help fight off colds.

The greens blend is where you can find the spirulina, 2000mg to be exact.

Supergreen Tonik is different from other green powders because they have a fully transparent label in which consumers can see exactly how much of each ingredient goes into the product. There are no proprietary blends to hide the information from consumers. 

Supergreen Tonik is also high in B vitamins, biotin, and vitamin C.

FAQs

Spirulina Frequently Asked Questions

Since spirulina is considered a nutrition supplement, no optimal daily dose has been established.

Doses range from 1-8 grams per day. As we saw above, some studies used as little as 1 gram per day or as high as 8 grams per day and still say benefits. Starting with a small dose of around 1-2 grams might be a good place to begin. 

For example, Supergreen Tonik contains 2 grams of spirulina per scoop serving

Is Spirulina Safe?

Spirulina is generally safe for most people. 

One important thing to consider is that wild spirulina found in lakes and marshes could contain a toxin called a microcystin that is harmful to human health.

Lakes or bodies of water contaminated with bacteria or other pollutants can contaminate spirulina.

Purchasing spirulina from a reputable provider with strong quality assurance practices can significantly decrease the risk of spirulina being contained with microcystins.

If you have a fish or shellfish allergy, spirulina might be quite unsafe for you based on your allergy.

Speak with a provider before trying spirulina if this is the case. 

Are There Side Effects Of Spirulina?

From the studies reviewed above, no significant side effects were noted after consuming spirulina at any of the doses.

However, that does not mean side effects do not exist. Also, there are a few groups of people who should avoid spirulina due to medical conditions.

Those on blood sugar-lowering medications, medications that impact blood clotting, and those taking immunosuppressants should avoid spirulina and talk to their doctor to see if it is okay to incorporate it into their diet.

Those with autoimmune conditions should also speak with a medical provider before starting spirulina; as we learned above, it can impact some inflammatory markers in the body.

Lastly, there is a rare metabolic condition called phenylketonuria (PKU) in which people born with this condition cannot process the amino acid phenylalanine. Those with PKU should avoid spirulina altogether. 

Can Spirulina Be Used During Pregnancy?

There is not enough evidence that spirulina can be taken during pregnancy, so it should be avoided in both pregnancy and breastfeeding.

What Is The Best Time Of Day To Take Spirulina?

Spirulina can be taken in both the morning and the night. If you are a morning person, taking in the morning with your greens or as a tablet in water can get your days started on the right track.

It can be taken at night, too.

Truly the best time to take spirulina is when you are able to be consistent with it!

Supergreen Tonik label + icons

Final Thoughts

More research is needed to prove the correlation between spirulina and its health benefits, but the current research is exciting.

Like mentioned throughout the article, always check with your doctor or dietitian before adding any new nutrition supplement in to your diet.

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