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What Are the Health Benefits of Spirulina?

By A. B. Kelsey
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Spirulina is a blue-green, one-celled form of algae that thrives in warm, alkaline, fresh bodies of water like lakes and ponds. It has a long history of being used for human consumption for its many potential health benefits. Over the years, spirulina has nourished the citizens of Africa, Asia, and South America. The Mayans and Aztecs used the algae as a central part of their diet. Today, the algae is consumed by health-conscious people all over the world.

Spirulina is popular with health buffs because it packs such a potent nutritional punch. This algae weighs in with an impressive 60% all-vegetable protein and also contains a powerful combination of important vitamins and minerals, such as iron, vitamin E, zinc, B-complex, copper, calcium, and magnesium. It is also a rich source of the antioxidant beta-carotene and the essential fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). In other words, spirulina is one heck of an algae.

This "super" algae is a deep blue-green color because of the chlorophyll and phycocyanin. The green pigment is caused by chlorophyll, which is sometimes called “green blood" because it is so similar to hemoglobin. Chlorophyll is thought to soothe inflammation and support gut health.

The pigment that gives the algae its blue cast is phycocyanin, which is related to the human pigment bilirubin. Bilirubin is important to healthy liver function and the digestion of amino acids. These natural pigments are both easy to digest, so the human body can absorb the nutrients quickly.

It is gaining popularity with environmentalists because this aquatic plant can be grown efficiently without destroying valuable resources. Spirulina can produce 20 times more protein per area than soybeans, 40 times more than corn, and 200 times more protein per area than beef cattle.

It also uses less water per area of protein than other foods. In fact, growers claim the only significant water loss is through evaporation. In addition, since algae production expands using non-fertile land and brackish water, farming the algae does not cause soil erosion. There are many people who think farming spirulina is one of the simple ways we can “regreen” our planet.

It’s hard to believe a concentrated source of nutrients like this one isn’t full of calories, fats, and starches. Amazingly, it is only seven percent fat, and most of that is in the form of essential fatty acids. These essential fatty acids help the bloodstream and affect the health of hair, skin, and nails.

Spirulina also contains very few calories and little sugar or starch. The average 500 mg tablet contains only one to two calories. It does offer some carbohydrates in the form of rhamnose and glycogen, both of which are easily absorbed by the human body. Thus, these sugars may provide natural, sustained energy.

Spirulina is easy to find in pill or powder form. Although there are no known toxicities associated with it, it is always best and safest to talk with a healthcare provider before taking any nutritional supplement.

In conclusion, spirulina is a nutrient-dense superfood that has been used for centuries for its health benefits. It is a blue-green algae that is rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It is also an environmentally friendly food source as it can be grown efficiently using non-fertile land and brackish water.

As a dietary supplement, spirulina can be consumed in pill or powder form and is available in many super greens powders, like Live it Up Super Greens. As with any supplement, it is always best to consult with a healthcare provider before taking it. Overall, spirulina is a powerful and versatile superfood that can benefit the health of individuals and the planet.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon339566 — On Jun 24, 2013

This is an amazing blog! I love Spirulina powder and strongly recommend it to all my loved ones for its health benefits! Good work!

By anon320837 — On Feb 19, 2013

Spirulina truly is one of the worlds most potent superfoods. I've been taking it for a couple years now and feel great from it. I just did an experiment where for five days I only ate a mixture of spirulina, chia seeds, cacao and honey and I felt amazing from it and lost about five pounds that stayed off.

I've now actually grown my own spirulina at home because of the potential issues of heavy metals and toxicity with untrusted sources. I found a kit online and I can harvest about 10 grams of this fresh green goodness every day. And it tastes, well, doesn't really have any taste at all. I can just eat it right out of the harvest cloth.

By anon256211 — On Mar 21, 2012

I have been taking Spirulina daily for 40 years. I am very healthy and active. It's not like a super-energy supplement (actually it's a food), but if I don't take it for about five days, I start to feel draggy and drained. At first, I don't relate it to not taking Spirulina, but then I remember that I haven't taken it. After resuming taking it for a day or so, I get back to having lasting energy and stamina.

I usually take six tabs in the morning and four in the late afternoon. It cured me of chronic stomach problems, and intestinal irritations and 24/7 allergies. I only experience allergies a few days a year and I can eat anything. I highly recommend it. I use NOW Spirulina, organic.

By anon163959 — On Mar 29, 2011

I truly feel that if it wasn't for Marcus Rohrer Spirulina, I might not be alive today. It helped me fight the consequences of a 10 year drug addiction to heroin and meth, and the resulting infections and infestations of parasites I was left with. It gave me the strength to fight for my life!

By anon139652 — On Jan 05, 2011

I read something about how Spirulina and Chlorella can help with energy levels, so I decided to give it a shot. I found a product called Perfect Aquatic Greens - picked it because it 100 percent certified Organic and Fair Trade. These are both very important to me. I have been using it for just over a week and it has been incredible! I hope this lasts, if so I will never need to drink coffee again!

By anon134161 — On Dec 13, 2010

For my high output and rigorous job, I sprinkle a bit of Spirulina on two eggs for breakfast, chased with pineapple juice-- a power packed start! This keeps me going well all morning long and into the afternoon.

By anon123405 — On Nov 01, 2010

I take Spirulina every day. I know I don't get enough vitamins and minerals and with spirulina i get the full spectrum. I take SoTru Organic Spirulina. Not only is it organic (so you know there are no additives), but it is fair trade certified as well. I recommend it for everyone.

By anon122215 — On Oct 27, 2010

Spirulina sounds almost too good to be true but it seems to be confirmed by many sites and health experts as well. Thanks for the info mate.

By anon91337 — On Jun 21, 2010

I am wondering if I can still take a daily multivitamin while taking spirulina.

By anon84681 — On May 17, 2010

I am one skeptical person when it comes to health giving supplements. I can attest how Spirulina worked wonders in me, especially in my line of work as a call center agent working graveyard shifts. Anybody knows the detriment of the job. Through Spirulina, i get to earn money without compromising my health.

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