Health benefits of spirulina

Spirulina is a dietary supplement now popularly known as a “super food” because of its massive nutrient content.

spirulina capsule
Spirulina in capsule form

Scientifically, spirulina is a simple one-celled blue-green microalga that flourishes in warm alkaline fresh water. It is not a medicine, but since 1970, it has become increasingly popular that experts continually analyzed it chemically for its excellent source of over a hundred kinds of nutrients, such as proteins, vitamins, and minerals.

This water plant contains 4 to 7 percent lipids, and 60 to 70 percent high concentration of vegetable proteins in its dry weight with all essential amino acids in absolute balance. It is even considered better than beef, which contains only 22 percent protein.

Spirulina’s vitamin B12, or cobalamin, content is very high. Cobalamin is a rare vitamin packed with 250 percent more than what beef liver gives. Likewise, the food supplement’s eight essential amino acid contents include:

  • isoleucine, which is necessary for optimal growth, intelligence development, and nitrogen equilibrium
  • leucine, responsible for the increase of muscular energy levels
  • lysine
  • methionine
  • phenylalanine
  • threonine
  • tryptophane
  • valine

In addition, spirulina is suitable for sustaining the nutritional needs of different age groups, particularly for:

  • children who do not eat enough vegetable, or those who suffer from imbalanced food consumption
  • teenagers who need sufficient nutrients for growth
  • pregnant women who need more nutrients
  • the elderly who have trouble getting an average of three meals a day
  • athletes or sports-active individuals who need more nutrients to maintain their energy levels
  • career-oriented individuals who hardly find time to eat properly due to their constant juggling of work and appointments
  • patients who are recovering from ailment or surgery

Spirulina comes in the form of capsules, tablets, powder, flakes, or extracts, and may also be taken with chlorella, wheat, or barley grams.  Its dosage per person depends primarily on the form taken. And since it is a completely natural food, the dietary supplement is relatively safe to your health provided you follow the recommended dosage of less than 50 grams per day.

Nevertheless, just like any other dietary supplements, spirulina can also bring about side effects if taken beyond the recommended dosage. Most commonly known side effects are increased level of uric acid, which may eventually lead to kidney complications and damaged liver function due to the high content of vitamins and minerals.  Minor side effects include slight fever, nausea, thirst and constipation, stomach ache and other gastrointestinal symptoms, and skin itching.  But then, again, why would you take more than the recommended dosage, anyway?

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