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How healthy is Spirulina?

Posted on April 23 2022

Should I be consuming it daily?

Remember the trend where we would see spirulina being used in everything from ice creams to cookies in the name of health?

Spirulina is a form of bacteria known as cyanobacterium. It is also commonly referred to as blue-green algae. It is believed to be high in protein, iron, and calcium and is a good source of antioxidants, B vitamins, and other nutrients.

For such high nutritional values, Spirulina has been widely consumed as a food supplement in the form of powder, and pills.

However, recent studies have a different stance on its health benefits…

Studies suggest that Spirulina and all blue-green algae may be dangerous for your health. Samples through various studies now in turn show heath concerns like the risk of muscle breakdown, liver toxicity, and even liver cancer. 

Almost all blue-green algae can produce neurotoxins, including one called BMAA.

BMAA is a toxin found in the brains of Alzheimer’s, and ALS patients and can kill motor nerve cells in the spinal cord. In fact, this potent neurotoxin, and other liver toxins are found in as much as 94% of spirulina samples.

A question with this arises as, if Spirulina is toxic in itself or if it contains toxins from its contamination by other toxin-producing blue-green algae. Spirulina is frequently developed and collected in open lakes, which leaves the question that what other algae may crop up in there. 

The problem is that it’s not easy to detect the presence of other algae when Spirulina is collected.

One option in this regard is buying Spirulina from companies that have third-party testing of their products along with stating that it is BMAA free. However, it still does not guarantee the total safety of the product. 

Chlorella which is a form of green algae is a better option as it does not contain neurotoxins unlike blue-green algae (like spirulina). But might I suggest just using leafy greens for some green color instead?

What does science say? 

In an incident of evidential effects of Spirulina, an infant, on his first day of life, had to be hospitalized with seizures. Researchers found that the daily Spirulina use of his mother starting in the fourth month of her pregnancy was likely the issue. 

Spirulina, in some cases, has also been shown to exasperate the symptoms of autoimmune diseases. When you use it, the body overreacts and increases the movement of your immune system. This worsens the symptoms of any disease that pre-exists in your body or gives rise to rigorous inflammation. 

Even if you want to, stick to having no more than 1/2 tsp of Spirulina per week.

Trust this helps,

Roshni Sanghvi.

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