Spirulina platensis; Health Benefits, Uses, Dosage, Effects

Spirulina platensis
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Spirulina platensis a nutritionally enriched filamentous cyanobacterium, possesses diverse biological and nutritional significance having bio-modulatory and immuno-modulatory functions.  Algae gained attention as a possible alternative protein source for cultured fish, particularly in tropical and subtropical regions where algae production is high SP is well known for its anti-oxidant and anti-cancerous properties as well as its ability to amend the carcinogen-damaged DNA .

Nutritional Value of Spirulina platensis

Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 1,213 kJ (290 kcal)
Carbohydrates
23.9 g
Sugars 3.1 g
Dietary fiber 3.6 g
Fat
7.72 g
Saturated 2.65 g
Monounsaturated 0.675 g
Polyunsaturated 2.08 g
Protein
57.47 g
Tryptophan 0.929 g
Threonine 2.97 g
Isoleucine 3.209 g
Leucine 4.947 g
Lysine 3.025 g
Methionine 1.149 g
Cystine 0.662 g
Phenylalanine 2.777 g
Tyrosine 2.584 g
Valine 3.512 g
Arginine 4.147 g
Histidine 1.085 g
Alanine 4.515 g
Aspartic acid 5.793 g
Glutamic acid 8.386 g
Glycine 3.099 g
Proline 2.382 g
Serine 2.998 g
Vitamins Quantity%DV
Vitamin A equiv.

beta-Carotene
lutein zeaxanthin
4%

29 μg

3%

342 μg

0 μg
Thiamine (B1)
207%

2.38 mg

Riboflavin (B2)
306%

3.67 mg

Niacin (B3)
85%

12.82 mg

Pantothenic acid (B5)
70%

3.48 mg

Vitamin B6
28%

0.364 mg

Folate (B9)
24%

94 μg

Vitamin B12
0%

0 μg

Choline
13%

66 mg

Vitamin C
12%

10.1 mg

Vitamin D
0%

0 IU

Vitamin E
33%

5 mg

Vitamin K
24%

25.5 μg

Minerals Quantity%DV
Calcium
12%

120 mg

Iron
219%

28.5 mg

Magnesium
55%

195 mg

Manganese
90%

1.9 mg

Phosphorus
17%

118 mg

Potassium
29%

1363 mg

Sodium
70%

1048 mg

Zinc
21%

2 mg

Other constituents Quantity
Water 4.68 g
[4]
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Uses & Health Benefits of Spirulina platensis

  • Cholesterol-Lowering & Diabetes Curing - Cardiovascular disease remains the number one cause of death in developed countries, despite increased awareness, and high cholesterol is one of the most important risk factors in atherosclerosis. Nakaya et al. [], in the first human study, gave 4.2 g day−1 of Spirulina to 15 male volunteers and, although there was no significant increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels, they observed a significant reduction of high-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol after 8 weeks of treatment. The atherogenic effect also declined significantly in the above group []. Ramamoorthy and Premakumari [] in a more recent study administered Spirulina supplements in ischemic heart disease patients and found a significant reduction in blood cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol and an increase in HDL cholesterol. More research is needed before Spirulina can be recommended to lower cholesterol levels but its role as a natural food supplement in combating hyperlipidaemia, in combination with other therapeutic options, should not be overlooked.
  • Work as an Anticancer  - It has been argued that the combined antioxidant and immune modulation characteristics of Spirulina may have a possible mechanism of tumor destruction and hence play a role in cancer prevention. Whilst there are many animal and in vitro studies, there has been only one trial with human subjects. This study looked specifically at the effects of Spirulina on oral carcinogenesis, in particular leukoplakia []. It is not surprising that few human studies exist to date as cancer prevention trials with lower cancer incidence as an endpoint have logistic problems, rendering them essentially impossible to conduct for most malignancies.
  • Muscle Power and Endurance - Supplementary intakes of spirulina have been reported to increase the power  and endurance of the muscles. The main benefits that were noted were acute increase in maximum force output (greater strength in the short-term), prevention of fatigue (increased time-to-failure in aerobic exercises such as running) and muscle recovery after exercise.
  • Liver Health, Fatty Liver and Enzymes - Liver health is incredibly important – the liver is responsible for the development of a variety of the essential nutrients and chemicals that keep the body functioning and facilitate overall health and metabolism. Alcohol, poor diet, smoking, steroid abuse, prescription medicines and a variety of other environmental factors can place our liver at a severe risk – this, in turn, can have very severe implications for health and wellbeing.
  • Cure Allergies - Spirulina holds some promise in the treatment of allergic rhinitis (nasal allergies), according to a review published in 2009. Indeed, a previously published study of people with allergic rhinitis found several benefits for spirulina consumption (including improvement in symptoms like nasal discharge, sneezing, congestion, and itching). Diabetes In a 2008 study involving 37 people with type 2 diabetes, researchers found that those assigned to 12 weeks of spirulina supplementation experienced a significant reduction in blood-fat levels. Spirulina benefits also included a decrease in inflammation and, for some people, a decrease in blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Chronic Arsenic Poisoning -  Millions of people in Bangladesh, India, Taiwan and Chile are consuming high concentration of arsenic through drinking water and are at risk of chronic arsenic poisoning for which there is no specific treatment. A placebo-controlled, double-blind study was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of spirulina extract plus zinc in the treatment of chronic arsenic poisoning []. Forty-one patients with chronic arsenic poisoning were randomly treated by either placebo (17 patients) or spirulina extract (250 mg) plus zinc (2 mg) (24 patients) twice daily for 16 weeks.
  • Antioxidant Activity - It is one of the major biliproteins of Spirulina with antioxidant and radical scavenging properties. C-PC, a selective cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitor, induces apoptosis in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated RAW 264.7 macrophages. It is also known to exhibit anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties []. To date though, there are no in vivo human studies on possible antioxidant effects of Spirulina.
  • Allergy, Rhinitis, and Immunomodulation - It has been well documented that Spirulina exhibits anti-inflammatory properties by inhibiting the release of histamine from mast cells []. In a recent randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial [], individuals with allergic rhinitis were fed daily, either with placebo or Spirulina for 12 weeks. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells were isolated before and after the Spirulina feeding and levels of cytokines (interleukin-4 (IL-4), interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and interleukin-2), which are important in regulating immunoglobulin (Ig)E-mediated allergy, were measured. The study showed that high dose of Spirulina significantly reduced IL-4 levels by 32%, demonstrating the protective effects of this microalga toward allergic rhinitis. Ishii et al. [] studied the influence of Spirulina on IgA levels in human saliva and demonstrated that it enhances IgA production, suggesting a pivotal role of microalga in mucosal immunity.
  • Chronic Fatigue - Spirulina has been promoted as “the food of the future" with “exceptional constituents" that contribute to high energy levels. A few of these constituents such as polysaccharides (Rhamnose and Glycogen) and essential fat (GLA) are absorbed easily by human cells and help in energy release. Spirulina increases healthy lactobacillus in the intestine, enabling the production of Vitamin B6 that also helps in energy release. Despite this promotion, the only available placebo-controlled randomized trial showed that the scores of fatigue were not significantly different between spirulina and placebo. Spirulina administered at a dose of 3 g day−1 did not ameliorate fatigue more than the placebo in any of the four subjects and possibly it has no effect on chronic fatigue [].
  • Effective Against Anemia - There are many different forms of anemia. The most common one is characterized by a reduction in hemoglobin or red blood cells in your blood. Anemia is fairly common in older adults, leading to prolonged feelings of weakness and fatigue[15]. In a study in 40 older people with a history of anemia, spirulina supplements increased the hemoglobin content of red blood cells and improved immune function [16].
  • Improve Muscle Strength and Endurance - Exercise-induced oxidative damage is a major contributor to muscle fatigue. Certain plant foods have antioxidant properties that can help athletes and physically active individuals minimize this damage. Spirulina appears beneficial, as some studies pointed to improved muscle strength and endurance. In two studies, spirulina enhanced endurance, significantly increasing the time it took for people to become fatigued [17].
  • Strengthens The Immune System - Several animal studies have shown that spirulina can be an effective immunomodulator [18]. It has a unique ability to fight infection and enhance cellular functioning.
  • Aids Weight Loss - Spirulina is dense in protein, and foods rich in this nutrient can promote weight loss through certain mechanisms. Consuming protein contributes to fat burning and the development of lean tissue. Protein also curbs hunger, which is another way one can aim to lose weight [19]. Spirulina is also low in calories, which is another plus for anyone looking to lose weight.
  • Improves Digestive Health - The protein in spirulina supports healthy digestion. The body reassembles the amino acids that spirulina provides into digestive enzymes, and this further helps digestion.
  • Spirulina Fights Inflammation - The main active component of spirulina is phycocyanin, which has been found to prevent the production of inflammatory signaling molecules – and this means the blue-green algae helps fight inflammation [20]. Spirulina is also a good source of GLA, or gamma-linolenic acid, which also contributes to the anti-inflammatory properties of the algae.It was also found to be effective against arthritis. In one study, treatment with spirulina had protected against cartilage destruction and also reduced other inflammatory markers [21].
  • Might Help Deal With HIV - Studies show that spirulina supplementation can help deal with HIV symptoms [22]. However, we need more research in this aspect.
  • Helps Treat Candida - There are several studies that show how spirulina can be an effective antimicrobial agent [23]. Spirulina also encourages the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut, which can prevent candida from thriving. Its immune-boosting properties can also help the body eliminate candida.
  • Aids Acne Treatment - The antioxidants in spirulina help the body fight free radicals and flush out toxins, which can have a direct impact on skin health as well. The blue-green algae also improve skin metabolism. This promotes the quicker elimination of dead skin cells and the growth of new skin cells.

References

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