Spirulina is the new dawn for a healthy and active mind and body. It increases absorption of nutrients and helps protect against infections by enhancing immune system. It is immensely beneficial to humans with high nutrient content including complete proteins with customised absorbability, all essential amino acids in right proportion, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients required for rejuvenation of cells. Further, presence of essential fatty acids such as GLA is good for heart and combating stress.
A person cannot overdose on Spirulina.
Spirulina platensis, a blue - green algae, is the richest whole-food source available in nature and it gets its name from the shape of the plant which looks like little spirals. The dark green colour of Spirulina comes from the high amount of chlorophyll, plant blood, which is only one molecule different to haemoglobin in human blood.
Proper nutrition can help prevent disease and promote health. No one fruit, vegetable or meat can provide everything the human body demands, but the tiny Spirulina comes so close to this ideal. Spirulina more importantly provide the wide range of essential vitamins, minerals and protein which the human body uses as fuel and catalyst.
Nutritional qualities of Spirulina are truly one-of-a-kind. It is highest natural source of protein (up to 70%) ever discovered. Proteins present in Spirulina are biologically complete, which means they provide all nine essential amino acids in the proper ratios. Furthermore, Spirulina provides all the required amino acids in a form, which is easier to digest than animal or soy protein.
When most people think of protein, products such as meat, eggs, and fish come to mind. Many of us don’t realize that we can get protein from vegetarian source as well. Spirulina contains upto 70% vegetable protein, which is much higher than fish, pork, or beef. Animal protein is a much bigger molecule than vegetable protein, and is much harder for our system to digest. When too much animal protein is eaten, it is deposited in our body as fat. Too much fat will cause high cholesterol levels and may impact our heart and blood vessels. Digestibility of protein is 83-90% in ordinary dried Spirulina (Dillon and Phan, 1993).Comparison of Spirulina protein and other foods
Spirulina contains only 15 to 25% carbohydrates. The primary forms of carbohydrates are rhamnose and glycogen, two polysaccharides which are easily absorbed by the body with minimum insulin intervention. Spirulina is the only known vegan source of glycogen. Spirulina offers quick energy, without taxing the pancreas or precipitating hypoglycemia.
Humans require a dietary source of essential fatty acids (EFA). They promote cholesterol normalization and are precursors for hormones, called prostaglandins. Spirulina has 4 to 7% lipids, or fats, and most of these are essential fatty acids.
GLA is the precursor to the body’s prostaglandins – master hormones that control many functions. Dietary saturated fats and alcohol can cause in GLA deficiency and suppressed prostaglandin formation. Studies show GLA deficiency figures in many diseases and health problems,so a food source of GLA can be important. The only other known sources of dietary GLA are mother’s milk and oil extracts of evening primrose, black currant and borage seeds.
Although proteins are the building blocks of life, many trace minerals can profoundly affect health and metabolism. Spirulina contains essential minerals and trace elements absorbed from its growth medium into chelated, easily absorbed forms:
Spirulina supplies several of the vitamins that all living beings need to carry on metabolic processes:
When oxygen combines with the complex metabolic molecules it creates compounds called free radicals. Small quantities of free radicals are produced during normal body metabolism, such as breathing and digestion. Large quantities are present in many of the pollutants our bodies are exposed to, like smoke, burnt food, car exhaust, and many chemicals. Free radicals are highly unstable molecules ready to react (oxidize) with anything and they can trigger a chain reaction that produces other free radicals and can cause cell damage. Damage to cells includes the DNA; and damage to the DNA of our cells is now thought to be a major component of the aging process. An antioxidant is capable of joining with a free radical and rendering it harmless. Spirulina is rich in antioxidants including:
The most important pigment in Spirulina, evolved a billion years before chlorophyll and may be the precursor to chlorophyll and hemoglobin. It has both magnesium and iron in its molecular formation. Phycocyanin is related to the human pigment bilirubin, which is important to healthy liver function and digestion of amino acids. It imparts its anticancer property to Spirulina.Chlorophyll:
The common feature of green foods is their high chlorophyll content. Chlorophyll is known as a cleansing and detoxifying phytonutrient. Sometimes it is called ‘green blood’ because it looks like the hemoglobin molecule in human blood. Chlorophyll has a magnesium ion at its core, giving it a green color, and hemoglobin has iron, giving it a red color. Spirulina’s beneficial effect on anemia could be due to this similarity of chlorophyll and hemoglobin and its high bioavailable iron. Spirulina has 1% chlorophyll, one of nature’s highest levels.
It increases peristaltic action and thus relieves constipation, and also normalizes the secretion of digestive acids. It soothes the inflammation and reduces the excess pepsin secretion associated with gastric ulcers. Chlorophyll appears to promote regeneration of damaged liver cells, and also increases circulation to all the organs by dilating blood vessels. In the heart, chlorophyll aids in transmission of nerve impulses that control contraction.
Another important pigment is porphyrin, a red compound that forms the active nucleus of hemoglobin. Related to this structure is the polypyrrole molecule of B12, which is essential to the formation of healthy red blood cells.Carotenoids:
Some substances in plant foods are not true vitamins, but provide the precursors from which the body can then synthesize the appropriate vitamins. The carotenoid compounds of Spirulina are of this nature, since they are used to produce vitamin A. Spirulina contains the yellow/orange pigments cryptoxanthine and beta-carotene from which vitamin A can be made. Spirulina contains carotenoids in these forms:
Anemia is the decrease in number of red blood cells (RBCs) or less than the normal quantity of haemoglobin in the blood.
Phycocyanin enriched Nutraculture™ Spirulina contains porphyrin and bio-chelated iron which help in curing anemia. Porphyrin is a red compound that forms the active nucleus of haemoglobin. High nutrient density of Phycocyanin enriched Nutraculture™ Spirulina, especially the easily assimilated protein, folic acid, vitamin E, blood-building vitamins B12, folic acid and the amino acids, make it an ideal food source for persons suffering from anemia (Tietze, 2004). Its use is most encouraged for expecting and lactating mothers.
The immune system is the body's defense against infectious organisms and other invaders through a series of steps called the immune response. It is mainly comprises of Innate or Nonspecific immune system and Adaptive or Specific immune system. Both aspects of the immune system have cellular and humoral components by which they carry out their protective functions. In addition, there is interplay between these two systems, i.e., cells or components of the innate immune system influence the adaptive immune system and vice versa.
Cells of the innate immune system include phagocytic cells, NK cells, basophils, mast cells, eosinophiles and platelets. Cells that make up the adaptive immune system include the B and T lymphocytes. A specialized subset of cells called antigen presenting cells (APCs) are a heterogenous population of leukocytes that play an important role in innate immunity and also act as a link to the adaptive immune system by participating in the activation of helper T cells (Th cells). These cells include dendritic cells and macrophages (Male et al., 2006).
Phycocyanin enriched Nutraculture™ Spirulina is having immune- stimulating and antiviral activities. It acts directly on myeloid lineages and either directly or indirectly on Lymphocytes, Macrophages, Hematopoetic stem cells and NK cells (Blinkova et. al., 2001; Hirasahi et. al., 2002). It also stimulates the production of Interferon gamma (IFN-γ) and other cytokines (Yakoot et. al., 2012; Hirasahi et. al., 2002). It contains bioactive proteins to stimulate the intestinal immune system and enhance the responsiveness to vaccines (Selmi et. al., 2011).
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder due to:
Phycocyanin enriched Nutraculture™ Spirulina has shown to perform regulatory role on lipid and carbohydrate metabolism by exhibiting glucose and lipid profile correcting activity in experimental animals and in diabetic patients (Khan et al., 2005).
It helps in regulation of blood glucose level in following ways:
Hypertension or high blood pressure is a medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is elevated, due to which heart has to work harder than normal to circulate blood through the blood vessels.
Phycocyanin enriched Nutraculture™ Spirulina can stimulate the immunological system and the gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) present in it stimulates the prostaglandin synthesis, which are involved in regulation of the blood pressure (Lemes et. al., 2012). As it has a rich profile of antioxidants like vitamins C and E, it is further helpful in lowering of blood pressure (Kumari et. al., 2011). Spirulina is rich in potassium thus also prevents blood clots in arteries by preventing platelets aggregation.
Cholesterol is a waxy steroid and is transported in the blood plasma. It is carried in the blood by molecules called lipoproteins mainly high density lipoproteins (HDL), low density lipoproteins (LDL) and very low density lipoproteins (VLDL). High cholesterol levels in blood can cause atherosclerosis, angina and other cardiovascular conditions.
Our Phycocyanin enriched Spirulina helps in reducing blood cholesterol level particularly LDL type and thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems. It upregulates the HDL cholesterol, which is helpful in reverse translocation of cholesterol from blood to liver (Ramamoorthy and Premakumari, 1996). Further supplementation of Phycocyanin enriched Nutraculture™ Spirulina in your diet helps in reduction of hyper-cholesterolemic atherosclerosis (Cheong et. al., 2010). It improves general health, relieves fatigue, strengthens the spleen, regulates the blood fat level, reducs tri-glycerides, and keeps the heart healthy.
Aging is the result of gradual decline in cellular repair and housekeeping mechanisms, which leads to an accumulation of damaged cellular constituents and ultimately to the degeneration of tissues and organs (Gelino and Henson, 2012). Possible causes of aging can be those that are built into the body system as specific DNA or RNA coding or those that are the result of controllable or uncontrollable environmental factors including radiation, nutrition, and lifestyle.
In recent years the role played by mitochondria in cellular aging has become the focus of intensive research. Oxidative damage to mitochondrial proteins might cause less efficient processing of oxygen, release of higher levels of reactive oxygen species, free radicals and increased levels of background DNA damage. Since the mitochondria are the site of production of reactive oxygen species, and so might lead to a significant overestimation of nuclear DNA damage.
Antioxidants like Vitamin E, SOD, Phycocyanin and β-carotene have potent antioxidant activity to scavenge free radicals, including alkoxyl, hydroxyl and peroxyl radicals (Deng and Chow, 2010). Phycocyanin enriched Nutraculture™ Spirulina is rich in GLA, which protects the skin from UV rays of sun. β-carotene gives elasticity to skin and together with Vitamin E, selenium and Zinc, it helps to deep cleanse the skin. Spirulina is rich in vitamins and ideal for skin treatment. Vitamin E promotes the formation of skin cells and improves blood circulation in body (Moorhead et. al., 1993).
Allergy is hypersensitivity towards some food material, dust, pollens or any insect bite etc. Phycocyanin enriched Nutraculture™ Spirulina is effective against various allergic responses particularly by inhibiting the release of histamine from mast cells in case of mast cell-mediated immediate-type allergic reactions (Kim et. al., 1998). Spirulina inhibits anaphylactic reactions (Yang et. al., 1997), help in curing atopic dermatitis (Nuhu et. al., 2013) and provide protection against allergic rhinitis (Cingi et. al., 2008).
Asthma is a common chronic inflammatory disease of the airways characterized by variable and chronic symptoms, reversible hinderance in airflow, and bronchospasm. Its common symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing, chest tightness and wheezing.
Phycocyanin enriched Nutraculture™ Spirulina which is a rich source of GLA, decreases the proinflammatory Prostaglandins-E2 production, which in turn led to decrease of IgE production and inflammations of air passageways. Further β-carotene, Vitamin E and Selenium content of Spirulina help in scavenging endogenous and/or environmental oxidant sources of free radicals thus help pulmonary functions to act properly (Gershwin and Belay, 2008). Rich protein content of Spirulina helps in over all maintenance of body and immune system (Labhe et. al., 2001).
Inflammation is characterized by pain, redness, swelling and heat. These symptoms result from the activities of cytokines, chemokines, histamines, leukotrienes, prostaglandins, reactive oxygen species and nitrogen species. They mainly target local blood vessels, where they enhance blood flow, induce vasodilation and increase the permeability of vessel walls (Tietze, 2004).
The role of Phycocyanin in COX-2 inhibition results in the potential application of Spirulina in the management of inﬂammatory conditions and toxicity due to chemicals and drugs (Belay, 2002). Spirulina has a rich profile of antioxidants which can scavenge peroxyl, hydroxyl, alkoxyl, superoxide radicals due to ROS generation. Spirulina is the potent inhibitor of NADPH oxidase which Promotes NF-kB and proliferation of cells, which further causes inflammation and inhibit neutrophil activation.
Cancer is characterized by uncontrolled proliferation of cells. Usually the timing and extent of cell division is under strict control of network of signals. Mutation in any of the node of this network can trigger cancer. Cellular biologists have defined a system of special enzymes called endonuclease which repair damaged DNA to keep cells alive and healthy. When these enzymes are deactivated by radiation or toxins, errors in DNA go unrepaired, and cancer may develop.
Several studies show that Spirulina can prevent or inhibit cancer in humans and animals. In vitro studies suggest that polysaccharides of Spirulina enhance cell nucleus enzyme activity and DNA repair synthesis (Estrada et. al., 2001).
Polysaccharides of Spirulina improve the immune system to combat against cancer-drug resistance. Spirulina induces apoptosis in tumour cells as evidented by presence of hypodiploid DNA population, caspase activation, DNA fragmentation, etc. It has also been suggested by Karkos et. al., 2011, that combined antioxidant and immune modulation characteristics of Spirulina has a possible anticancer mechanism.
Phycocyanin enriched Nutraculture™ Spirulina can be used for weight loss. It is low in calories, fat, highly digestible and what is very important, it is in its natural balance (Tietze, 2004). Spirulina contains both Tyrosine and Phenylalanine, which directly influence the neurotransmitters (norepinephrine and dopamine) in brain which control appetite (Ramamoorthi and Premakumari, 1996). It is a rich source of GLA, which has a specific effect on the endocrine system, helping restore hormone, health and normalise insulin activity, so blood sugar levels stabilise and hunger cravings reduce.
Spirulina is very rich in β-carotene, which protects the skin by providing elasticity. Together with vitamin E, Selenium and Zinc, β-carotene helps to deep cleanse the skin. Chlorophyll in Spirulina is very beneficial for a healthy skin, due to its cell building factor and oxygen storing ability. It is also beneficial against skin inflammations. Gamma Linolenic acid (GLA) present in Spirulina protects the skin against UV radiation, dehydration and activates the blood circulation of the skin. Minerals are easily absorbed by the skin and are beneficial for an optimal function of the skin. The high content of the natural amino acid like Tyrosine in Spirulina slows down the ageing process of cells. It is also involved in the coloration of hair and skin, and helps with sun burn protection. Vitamins presence is suitable as a nourishing moisturiser for dry older skin with under active sebaceous glands. As a natural antioxidant, Vitamin E promotes the formation of skin cells, improves blood circulation and helps relieve symptoms of dermatitis and acne in teenagers (Moorhead et al., 1993; Tietze, 1999).
Within the endocrine system, thyroid is the biological engine that ultimately directs hormonal function and, therefore, metabolism. Therefore, its proper functioning is critical to the body’s over all metabolic rate, energy (ATP) production, digestion, and many other functions. The elements most closely associated with the thyroid are iodine, tyrosine and Selenium. Thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) are consisted of a tyrosine compound (made from the amino acid phenylalanine) to which atoms of iodine are added. Selenium is the most important nutrient required for the conversion of extra T4 to T3, as T3 is a more active form. Spirulina is having natural iodine and Selenium, which nourishes the thyroid, protects all glandular tissues and ultimately supports both immune and metabolic function. Phenylalanine present in it is used by the thyroid for the production of tyrosine (Triggiani et al., 2009; Kharrazian, 2010; Shames and Shames, 2002, Tietze, 1999).
Spirulina is rich in proteins and antioxidants, which have been shown to protect the body from free radical damage, which are the causes behind fertility issues such as luteal phase defect, poor egg and sperm health, as well as lowered overall immunity and health (Kapoor and Mehta, 1993). Further, Spirulina contains only 10-15% carbohydrate content, which does not alter insulin levels and makes it safe for dibetes related infertility. Another interesting factor is that Spirulina has a relatively high content of arginine which is important for males, as the seminal fluid is 80% arginine (Tietze, 1999). Essential Fatty Acids present in Spirulina in the form of linolenic acid, linoleic acid and arachidonic acid too aid in protaglandin functions, necessary for hormonal balance and blood pressure regulation, especially important for pregnancy. Researchers also suggested that Spirulina aids in helping women with preeclampsia during pregnancy or preventing it from happening. Preeclampsia is associated with increased oxidative stress in both the placenta and vascular system of the mother. NADPH oxidase has been shown to be the number one source for oxidant stress. Phycocyanin contained in Spirulina has been shown to inhibit NADPH, which further help to protect mother and child from preeclampsia (McCarty et al).
Pregnancy is throughout a great responsibility, as a woman has to provide a constant supply of good nutrients for proper building of the child’s body tissue. So nutrition during pregnancy is especially important. Even after child is delivered, lactation imposes a greater strain on the mother; because the woman nourishes a ‘fully-developed’ and ‘rapidly growing’ baby whose food needs increases day by day. Therefore, during pregnancy it is advised to increase her protein intake from 54 to 74 grams while increase in calories should be 340 Kcal in 2nd trimester and 452 Kcal in 3rd trimester (Brown, 2011). So additional protein must be low in calories to avoid an unnecessary weight gain. Iron deficiency anaemia is also one of the commonest problem afflicting in pregnant and nursing mothers. Further, recommended daily intake for vitamin B12 in pregnant women is 2.6 µg per day and 2.8 µg during lactation periods (Brown, 2011). Hence, the diet of a expecting & nursing mother should be rich in nutrients, which the baby is taking through the milk. Spirulina has long been used safely as a food, and even at high doses, no adverse effects or teratogenicity was observed. Hence, its consumption is safe to pregnant women.
It is recommended for pregnant and nursing mothers as they need Spirulina’s extra easy-to-digest complete protein and bioavailable iron. National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Hyderabad has conducted several studies for Spirulina effect against anaemia and reports suggested that intake of Spirulina can plug iron deficiency among anaemic pregnant women. Moreover Spirulina is the only available plant source of vitamin-B12 and rich source of GLA the main precursor to the body’s prostaglandins, the chemical which control many of body functions (Umesh, 2002).
Preeclampsia, characterized by high blood pressure, water retention and increased amount of protein in urine is very common during 2nd and 3rd trimesters of pregnancy and even just after delivery. If left untreated it can lead to premature delivery, termination of delivery or stop the child growth. Sufficiently high intake of Spirulina may have potential for prevention and control of preeclampsia. Possible mechanism must be presence of high-dose folate supplementation in Spirulina, which acts as a scavenger of peroxynitrite, one of the major cause of Preeclampsia (Rezk et al., 2003).
Spirulina has no reported side effects and can be consumed by everybody for the improvement of their general health. However it is especially beneficial for:
An intake of 4 - 6 tablets (500 mg each) per day per adult is widely recommended.
Consult your family physician before taking any food or dietary supplement.