Spirulina fusiformis, Spirulina maxima, Spirulina platensis
Spirulina is a primitive single-celled algae. It grows in the ocean. It includes many
species. Common ones include Spirulina maxima and Spirulina platensis. Spirulina is
cultivated as feedstock in Africa and Mexico.
Known ingredients include:
Medically valid uses
There are no known medical uses for spirulina in humans. It’s a source of protein,
iron, carotenoids, and some vitamins. The protein in spirulina is comparable to other
plant proteins. Like other plant proteins, it’s incomplete. This means it doesn’t
contain all nine essential amino acids.
Spirulina has been used as a feed extender for livestock. It can provide a percentage
of the total protein intake (up to 25%). But it must be supplemented with amino acids
that aren’t in spirulina. These often include lysine, methionine, and histidine. Spirulina
protein isn’t digested as well as other livestock foods.
Spirulina can also be used as a source of protein and some vitamins for humans. However,
it’s important to consume a tested source. Spirulina can be contaminated with microbes
and radioactive divalent and trivalent metal ions. It can also be contaminated with
heavy metals. These can include mercury, cadmium, lead, and arsenic.
Since spirulina is an incomplete protein, it shouldn’t be used as a main source of
Please note that this section reports on claims that have not yet been substantiated
Most studies of spirulina have been done on animals, especially mice. Claims are only
due to animal studies. Spirulina is said to act as a hepatoprotectant. This means
it protects the liver from damage from certain toxins. It may also reduce allergic
reactions by stabilizing mast cells. Activated mast cells are a source of histamine.
This is the agent that causes allergic symptoms. This may strengthen your immune system.
One study with humans suggests spirulina may treat oral cancer.
Follow the instructions on the package for the correct dose. Women who are pregnant
or breast-feeding should talk to their healthcare providers before taking any supplements.
Side effects, toxicity, and interactions
Spirulina is a controversial source of vitamin A. It’s been shown to interfere with
the body's storage and use of both vitamin A and E. Spirulina is not a reliable source
of vitamin B-12.
People taking warfarin should talk to their healthcare providers before taking spirulina.
It may affect how well the blood thinner works.