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Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae found in most lakes and ponds. It has been consumed for thousands of years by Mexican (Aztecs, Mayans), African, and Asian peoples. Spirulina is considered a complete protein because well over half of it consists of amino acids -- the building blocks of protein. It is also a rich source of other nutrients including B complex vitamins, beta-carotene, vitamin E, carotenoids, manganese, zinc, copper, iron, selenium, and gamma linolenic acid (an essential fatty acid). In fact, at least one laboratory study has demonstrated that the iron level in spirulina is equivalent to that contained in beef. Because of its apparent ability to stimulate the immune system, spirulina may have antiviral and anticancer effects. Test tube and animal studies suggest that spirulina may also help protect against harmful allergic reactions. More research is needed to fully understand how spirulina truly benefits people.
Interestingly, spirulina has been used in Russia to treat the victims, especially children, of the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl. In these children, whose bone marrow had been damaged from radiation exposure, spirulina seemed to boost the immune system.
Spirulina as Food
Spirulina is a simply amazing food source that has been consumed variously throughout history by many human cultures. The current state of food production practices and environmental degradation makes it ideal for our own culture. It can be grown almost anywhere, in water supplies that are not suitable for drinking (inland in brackish and fresh water ponds), and in existing desert areas without cutting down trees to make room. It does not require incredible amounts of grain to produce (cows), does not produce methane (cows), but life sustaining oxygen instead, does not have to be fertilized with growth hormones (cows), has never been known to kill children with e-coli (cows again), and nobody has ever been guilty of treating algae in an inhumane manner.
For over 30 years spirulina (Spirulina platensis) has been the premier choice for supplementing a vegetarian diet. Source Naturals Spirulina is a high quality blue-green algae which is a high protein, low fate source of numerous vitamins, minerals, carotenoids and essential fatty acids. Spirulina is an excellent source of many nutrients that are hard to maintain at adequate levels with a vegetarian diet. Most notable is the high quality protein, which contains all nine essential amino acids. Spirulina's cell walls do not contain cellulose to slow digestion. Source Naturals SPIRULINA is naturally grown and harvested without herbicides or pesticides.
Naturally Rich in Nutrients
The complete, whole-food nutrition found in this ancient food provides an endless list of health benefits. Spirulina is particularly high in beta-carotene, which is a powerful antioxidant that protects the body from free radical damage. It also converts into vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is essential for healthy eyes, skin, teeth, nails, hair, bones and a strong immune system.
Spirulina is an excellent source of B vitamins, particularly vitamin B12, which is important for vegetarians. This nutritious food also contains vitamin E, a highly bioavailable source of iron, 14 naturally chelated minerals and numerous trace elements.
Spirulina - SuperFood for Dieters
In addition to being one of the most nutrient-rich foods on earth, Spirulina is low in fat, calories and cholesterol. Many people have found that when they eat Spirulina before a meal, Spirulina satisfies their appetite allowing them to reduce their overall food consumption. When the body receives proper nutrition, it is far less likely to have an overactive appetite, which can lead undernourished people to eat large amounts of food. Spirulina is a nutrient rich food that will satisfy the appetite with few calories. This Spirulina SuperFood can be a valuable part of any healthy weight loss program.
Spirulina is also an excellent source of complex carbohydrates. It contains glycogen and rhamnose, which are easily absorbed by the body and converted into quick energy.
This low calorie, high protein, nutritious food provides the abundant energy we need to live each day to the fullest.
Animal and test tube studies suggest that spirulina increases production of antibodies, cytokines (infection fighting proteins), and other cells that improve immunity and help ward off infection and chronic illnesses such as cancer.
Amino acids make up 62% of spirulina. Because it is a rich source of protein and other nutrients, spirulina has been used traditionally as a nutritional supplement by people who cannot obtain sufficient calories or protein through diet alone and by those whose nutritional requirements are higher than normal, such as athletes.
Animal studies suggest that spirulina promotes hematopoiesis (formation and development of red blood cells). This is thought to be due to the high levels of iron present in this food supplement.
Animal and test tube studies suggest that spirulina may protect against allergic reactions by preventing the release of histamines (substances that contribute to allergy symptoms such as a runny nose, watery eyes, hives, and soft-tissue swelling). Whether these preliminary studies will translate into benefit for people with allergies is not known.
Although antibiotics destroy unwanted organisms in the body, they may also kill "good" bacteria called probiotics (such as Lactobacillus acidophilus) which sometimes results in diarrhea. In test tubes, spirulina has promoted the growth of L. acidophilus and other probiotics. Whether this positive laboratory finding will translate into protection from antibiotic-related diarrhea is not clear at this time.
Test tube studies suggest that spirulina has activity against herpes, influenza, cytomeglovirus, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Whether this laboratory finding will prove beneficial for people in treating these infections is not clear.
In one study, 87 people who chewed tobacco and had a precancerous lesion known as leukoplakia were randomly assigned to receive Spirulina fusiformis or placebo. Lesions were significantly more likely to disappear in the spirulina group than in the placebo group. More research in this area will be very helpful.
There is some preliminary evidence that spirulina may help protect against liver damage and cirrhosis (liver failure) in those with chronic hepatitis. More research is needed in this area.
Spirulina is also contained in some skin care products due to its moisturizing and tightening properties, and components derived from spirulina may have properties to help reduce inflammation in, for example, arthritis. More research is needed in this latter area.
Spirulina is a microscopic algae that flourishes in warm climates and warm alkaline water. It is available dried and freeze-dried.
Spirulina is available in pill or powder form. Most of the spirulina consumed in the United States is cultivated in a laboratory. There are many different spirulina species (spp.), only some of which are identified on labels of commercially available products. Spirulina maxima (cultivated in Mexico) and Spirulina platensis (cultivated in California) are the most popular.
How to Take It
Although spirulina has been used in children (e.g. victims of the Chernobyl nuclear accident), the safe and effective dose for those under 18 has not yet been established.
Consult an appropriate health care provider for the correct dosage of spirulina. A standard dosage of spirulina is 4 to 6 tablets (500 mg each) per day.
Because of the potential for side effects and interactions with medications, dietary supplements should be taken only under the supervision of a knowledgeable healthcare provider.
There are no known toxicities associated with spirulina, based on testing of high doses of this supplement in animals. Spirulina has even been tested in pregnant animals and no risk to either maternal or fetal rats and mice was discovered. However, it is not known whether this will translate to humans. Therefore, it is safest to talk with your health care provider before taking spirulina if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
In addition, those with a metabolic condition called phenylketonuria (PKU) should discuss potential use of spirulina with their healthcare provider. This unusual condition is characterized by an inability to metabolize the amino acid phenylalanine. Spirulina is rich in all amino acids, including phenylalanine. Most likely, it is okay for those with PKU to use this supplement because the presence of all of the other essential amino acids balances the high levels of phenylalanine. However, it is best and safest to check with your healthcare provider if you have PKU.
With the increase in popularity of green foods, Spirulina has become increasingly in demand. It has been reputed to be useful in the treatment of:
Spirulina - Diabetes
Spirulina - Glaucoma
Spirulina - Liver pathologies
Spirulina - Cancer
Spirulina - Increasing neurotransmitter formation
Spirulina - Acting as an appetite suppressant
Spirulina - Supports healthy immune system
Spirulina - Supports normal cholesterol levels
Spirulina - Boosts energy and cellular health
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