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The benefits of spirulina 

Spirulina (so named because of its spiral shape), belongs to the family of filamentous cyanobacteria or micro-algae. It would have appeared on earth more than 3 billion years ago and crossed the history of humanity to reach us!

A true super-food: it grows naturally in lakes near the equator, in India, Chad, and Mexico. The Incas already consumed it as a food. Since ages, Kanembu women in Chad have harvested spirulina and dried it for consumption with millet.

In the West, it is only more recently (in the 70s) that we have rediscovered its fabulous nutritional properties.   

Spirulina contains a large part of the micronutrients needed by the body:

Easily assimilable proteins including 8 essential amino acids, pro-vitamin A or beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the body, vitamins of groups B, E and K, many trace elements (iron, potassium, phosphorus , zinc, magnesium, calcium, …), gamma-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid, pigments (phycocyanin, chlorophyll, …). See the composition chapter. In addition, the bioavailability of these micronutrients is much higher than that provided by equivalent products of plant origin.

This is why Antenna France has chosen spirulina to supplement the renutrition programs of malnourished children in Africa and Madagascar. It provides an appreciable amount of quality protein (for example, 10 g of spirulina in the daily ration may represent, according to the weight of the child, more than 50% of the recommended protein intake). Finally, it effectively combats iron and vitamin A deficiencies associated to malnutrition.

A good understanding of its composition and of the benefits of each component can explain the numerous benefits of spirulina for the body. In particular strengthening the immune defences! (1) 

Let’s mention the most important beneficial effects:

Vitamin A that brings benefits from North to South…

Vitamin A deserves special attention: beta-carotene (the orange pigment) found in spirulina is the precursor of vitamin A. Spirulina contains ten to fifteen times more beta-carotene than carrots. (2)

  • It is an antioxidant that traps free radicals and protects the skin and eyes from UV. It is necessary for the synthesis of pigments of the eye, prevents vision problems, and enters the maintenance mechanisms of the skin, the formation of red blood cells and in the metabolism of hormones.  . 
  • Associated to vitamin E, it has anti-oxidant properties especially on unsaturated fatty acids and it helps to lower cholesterol levels in the blood.

It takes between 3 and 6 g of spirulina to cover the recommended daily needs in adults (900 μg). For children aged 6 months to 3 years, as their daily needs in this vitamin are between 300 and 500 μg, they would need a dose of spirulina between 1 and 3 g / day.

Phycocyanin, a true therapeutic « jewel »:

This pigment is used as a natural blue dye in the food industry. But above all it has many properties including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory but also antiviral effects.  Phycocyanin also enhances the immune system. (3-4 ).

Highly absorbable Iron :

Spirulina brings on average 80 to 100 mg / 100g of iron, a large proportion of which will be absorbed especially if it is associated with vitamin C (a lemon juice for example). In comparison, whole grain cereals, which are among the best sources of iron, contain only 150 to 250 mg / kg and this iron is rarely bioavailable, tannins and phytates preventing its metabolism. Iron supplements given in the form of ferrous sulfate may be poorly tolerated and cause digestive disorders.

Spirulina is therefore a good source of iron in vegetarian diets and helps fight against anemia secondary to iron deficiency.

 γ-linolénic acid : anti-inflammatory properties

It is strongly present in spirulina. One of the best sources after human milk. This fatty acid is a precursor of mediators involved in anti-inflammatory and immune processes.

Unsaturated fatty acids: blood cholesterol lowering effects:

Some studies have highlighted the relationship between taking spirulina and lowering cholesterol levels. This may be due to its antioxidant elements and the action of its polyunsaturated fatty acids (5).

Vitamins B * E and K: Essential for the heart, bones, brain and arteries!

* The amount of vitamin B12 brought into active form by spirulina is insufficient to meet the needs of vegetarians 

In conclusion

Although unaware of this fact, we are often “malnourished” by excessive or unbalanced intake of certain nutrients (fat, sugar and proteins in the industrialized countries). By doing a spirulina cure, you will not get fat. Your body and your metabolism will regain balance and you will less tired. Your immune defenses will be strengthened.  

You can read the excellent book of Joëlle Le Guehennec “Spirulina” you will find all the good reasons to make a quick cure of spirulina.

Sources 

(1) Source : Les incroyables vertus de la spiruline – Géraldine Laval Legrain et Benoît Legrain aux éditions Jouvence

(2) Etude publiée dans le Journal of Nutrition Science sur l’impact du bêtacarotène de la spiruline. 

(3) https://www.cyanotech.com/pdfs/spirulina/sptl28.pdf

(4)https://www.antenna-france.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Principes-de-Sante-nov-2014-phycocyanine.pdf

(5) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23754631