Many people ask “what is spirulina?” In the simplest terms, spirulina is a blue-green algae that is high in nutrients and used as a food source since ancient times. Spirulina is a whole product of biological origin. It consists of the dried biomass of the cyanobacterium Arthrospira. Arthrospira are filamentous microscopic blue-green algae or cyanobacteria that occur abundantly in an almost uni-algal form in highly alkaline lakes with high pH. The high pH and alkalinity prevent other algae from growing and it is therefore grown outdoors virtually free of contamination by other algae.
The true taxonomic name of Spirulina has been revised recently. The edible forms of Spirulina are now called Arthrospira. The common species under commercial cultivation are Arthrospira platensis and Arthrospira maxima. The name Spirulina is now retained to describe the product and not the algae.
What is Spirulina Used For?
Spirulina is used as food, dietary supplement, and nutritional supplement and natural health product. Some of its components are also used as food coloring in Japan.
A RICH SOURCE OF NUTRIENTS
Spirulina contains the highest concentration of protein for any plant, herb or animal on a gram per gram basis. The amino acid content of its protein is very close to the WHO standard. Since Spirulina does not have a thick cell wall this protein is readily available.*
Spirulina also contains some essential vitamins like Vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), Vitamin B12.* It is also a very rare source of GLA (Gamma Linolenic Acid), an essential fatty acid. Moreover Spirulina is a good source of bio-available iron.*
In addition to the above spirulina also contains phytonutrients like phycocyanin and polysaccharides that have some potential health benefits.*
There are many scientific studies that show that spirulina has potential benefits in the areas of immunomodulation, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory protection, cardiovascular health, cellular protection, detoxification from heavy metals and drugs and probiotic effects. The bulk of the scientific evidence supports the immunomodulation and antioxidant effects and most of the other benefits are also indirectly related to these two effects.*