Algae Spirulina: benefit and harm, how to take for weight loss and health promotion

Spirulina is a microalgae, consumed for centuries due to its high nutritional value and purported health benefits of spirulina. Popular opinion today, representing spirulina as “super product” and “miracle from the sea”.

Spirulina sounds much better, than just seaweed, and is actually a type of blue-green algae, growing in oceans and salt lakes in subtropical climates. The Aztecs harvested spirulina from Lake Texcoco in central Mexico., and it is still harvested from Lake Chad in western Central Africa and made into dry cakes.

Spirulina was once classified as a plant, because she “rich in plant pigments and provides photosynthesis”, according to research, published in the journal Cardiovascular Therapeutics. New understanding of his genetics, физиологии и биохимических свойств побудило ученых отнести ее к цианобактериям. It was originally assigned to the genus Arthrospira., it was later included in the genus Spirulina. There are several types, but three - Spirulina platensis, Spirulina maxima and Spirulina fusiformis are being extensively researched due to their high nutritional and potential therapeutic values..

Spirulina grows in microscopic spirals, tending to stick together, which makes it easier to harvest. She has an intense blue-green color., and relatively mild taste..

US health authority, FDA (Food and Drug Administration), allows manufacturers to use spirulina as a coloring agent in chewing gum, sweets and other products.

Spirulina in the treatment of diseases

According to the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), many manufacturers are promoting spirulina as a treatment for a range of metabolic and cardiac problems, in particular, weight loss, diabetes and high cholesterol. Spirulina is also recommended as an aid to various mental and emotional disorders., including alarm, stress, depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

It is believed, that spirulina helps a number of eclectic health problems, including premenstrual symptoms and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease), reports NIH. The combination of zinc and spirulina may help the body eliminate arsenic from the body in humans, in drinking water which there is an excess of this element.

How does spirulina work?

NIH states, that there is not enough scientific evidence, to determine, Is spirulina effective for treating diseases?. However, spirulina is rich in nutrients. According to the FDA, Spirulina is high in calcium, niacin, Potassium, Magnesium, B vitamins and iron. It also contains essential amino acids. (connections, which are the building blocks of proteins). In fact, the protein is about 60-70 percent dry weight of spirulina.

Nonetheless, the person needed to take spirulina supplements throughout the day, to get closer to the recommended daily amount of nutrients, said Heather Mangeri, representative of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and owner of Nutrition Checkup in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It's not that, what's the only problem with superfoods.

There are many products, rich in nutrients, but we don't necessarily know the bioavailability, so we don't know, how much of this nutrient are you really getting, – said Mangeri.

Bioavailability describes, how many nutrients, which you consume, actually used by the body. In some cases, eating two different foods at the same time will help the body absorb nutrients better., than if a person ate these foods separately. For example, Manjeri said, what is leucine, found in tomatoes, better absorbed by the body, when you eat tomato oil. Scientists are still studying the bioavailability of nutrients in individual foods and, how nutrients help prevent disease.

Like a nutritionist, I recommend that people get their nutrients from healthy foods, as nutrients act synergistically and this increases bioavailability, – said Mangeri.

Spirulina can stop malnutrition

Because of its high nutritional profile, scientists, malnutrition students, showing interest in spirulina. Several studies have examined the effects of spirulina supplementation on undernourished populations., including anemic pregnant women and children in high-poverty developing countries.

One of these studies, published in 2016 year in the publication "Maternal and child nutrition", included 87 children, malnourished and anemic. Scientists gave half of the children vitamins, mineral supplements and half had spirulina added to their food for three months. Children, treated with spirulina, showed significantly better weight and height gains, ferritin and iron levels and hemoglobin volume, than children, regularly receiving vitamin and mineral supplements. The authors noted the small size of the study and the need for additional research..

Annual Study, published in 2015 year by the Nutrition Journal, studied the effects of spirulina supplementation in almost 200 malnourished HIV-positive people in Cameroon, showed similar positive results.. Members, predominantly women, received standard care, a balanced diet and supplements with spirulina or standard care and a balanced diet without any supplements. Participants have, treated with spirulina, an increase in the number of cells of the immune system was observed, severely reduced HIV, like the hemoglobin level.

IN 2016 Government of the Indian state of Karnataka, in collaboration with JSW Energy, launched a nationwide program to provide spirulina supplements to malnourished children.

Spirulina as an antioxidant

Antioxidants are compounds, that help fight cell and DNA damage, what leads to cancer, heart disease and other chronic diseases. The body produces some antioxidants, while others are found in food. Despite the supposed benefits of taking supplemental antioxidants, extensive studies have not shown, that taking antioxidants reduces the risk of cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. Taking Antioxidants, probably, will not help in the treatment of other diseases, such as diabetes, according to the abstract 2011 year, published in Current Diabetes Reviews.

Despite, that antioxidant supplements failed to stop the disease in studies, lack of benefit in clinical studies may be explained by differences in antioxidant activity, tested in consumption as refined chemicals, not like food, containing complex mixtures of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. , according to the National Cancer Institute.

Since spirulina is considered as a dietary supplement, the question remains, does dried spirulina have antioxidant health benefits.

A previous study on the antioxidant effects of spirulina tested the supplement in 87 person in kerala, India, who regularly chewed paan tobacco. Paan is made from betel leaves and various spices and is usually chewed after meals and rituals., such as weddings and receptions. Paan users have an increased risk of oral cancer, called oral leukoplakia. During a year 45 percent of tobacco users, taking spirulina supplements every day, saw, that the lesion has completely regressed.

Antioxidants may help athletes recover from oxidative stress, caused by exercise, what contributes to muscle fatigue, and spirulina contains several compounds, that, as shown, have antioxidant properties, including phenolic compounds, phycocyanins, tocopherols and beta-carotene. research, published in 2010 g. Researchers studied the possible benefits of spirulina in training nine men over four weeks. They discovered, that runners had increased levels of exercise and antioxidants after taking spirulina, than when they didn't take supplements or took a placebo. While these preliminary results are promising, they are too small, to infer the effects of spirulina on symptoms of fatigue, according to the authors of the study.

Several studies, studying the effect of spirulina on cholesterol and triglycerides (or lipid-lowering effects), shown, what is spirulina good for. However, most human studies, who studied these effects, limited to research, in which less than 100 man, and many of them did not have a control group of people, placebo.

The study 2008 years, the lipid-lowering effects of spirulina have been tested for 78 adults aged 60 and 87 years. The subjects took 8 g spirulina supplementation or placebo for 16 weeks. At the end of the study, there was a significant reduction in cholesterol levels in those, who received treatment, according to abstract, published in Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism.

In another study 52 adults aged from 37 to 61 years, the effect of spirulina on humans has been studied, recently had high cholesterol. Study participants consumed 1 grams of spirulina preparations daily for 12 weeks and gave fasting blood samples at the beginning and end of the study. At the end of the experiment, the average level of triglycerides, total cholesterol and potentially harmful low-density cholesterol (LDL) decreased. But, according to work, published in the Journal of Science of Food and Agriculture in July 2013 year, blood pressure values, weight and body mass index did not change.

Doctors are now realizing that, that heart disease is more than just high cholesterol and triglycerides, but also chronic inflammatory disease, according to the July review of the lipid-lowering effects of spirulina, published in the journal Cardiovascular Therapeutics. Then spirulina can help in the management and prevention of heart disease due to its antioxidant properties., but more research is needed.

Current research on spirulina

Currently undergoing medical research, to determine the effect of spirulina on viral infections, swelling, wound healing and the immune system in general, reports NIH. Previous studies have not shown, that spirulina is effective in treating blepharospasm, chronic eyelid twitching.

There is not enough evidence, to determine, can spirulina supplements help with digestion or weight loss, and not enough evidence, to determine, does spirulina cure memory problems, anxiety or depression, reports NIH. Studies show, that spirulina affects energy levels and chronic fatigue. Research has not shown, does spirulina have a significant effect on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or premenstrual syndrome (PMS), according to NIH.

Are Spirulina Supplements Safe?? Harm of spirulina

Doctors, usually, consider spirulina safe, especially in view of its long history as a food. But spirulina can become contaminated with toxic metals., harmful bacteria and microcystins - toxins, which are formed from certain algae - if grown in dangerous conditions. Contaminated Spirulina Can Cause Liver Damage, nausea, vomiting, thirsty, weakness, cardiopalmus, shock and even death. Contaminated spirulina can be especially dangerous for children. NIH recommends investigating the source of spirulina in supplements, to make sure, that it was grown in safe conditions and tested for toxins.

People, suffering from certain autoimmune diseases, should avoid spirulina supplements according to NIH. Because spirulina boosts the immune system, spirulina supplements may aggravate symptoms multiple sclerosis (RS), Volchanki (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis and other states, associated with an overactive immune system. For the same reason, spirulina may weaken the effects of immunosuppressive drugs., commonly prescribed for the treatment of autoimmune diseases, and prevent the body from rejecting organ transplants. Spirulina can also interfere with medications, slowing down blood clotting, including blood thinners, such as warfarin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The combination of spirulina with herbal supplements slows down blood clotting, may increase a person's risk of bleeding. These plants include cloves., dansheng, garlic, ginger, Ginkgo, ginseng and turmeric, reports NIH.

Women, pregnant or breastfeeding, spirulina should be avoided, as there are no safety studies in this group. People, suffering from the genetic disorder phenylketonuria, should also avoid taking spirulina preparations, according to NIH, as it may worsen their condition. Because research is not enough to determine a safe dose of spirulina, it is best to consult your doctor and follow the directions of all supplements, to avoid dangerous doses.

  • National Institutes of Health Discusses Spirulina, or “blue green algae”, and celebrate, that there is not enough scientific evidence, to determine, products are effective or not, made from it.
  • Spirulina is very rich in protein.

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