Can you give me some information on blue green algae?
Spirulina (or blue green algae) has long been a staple food for various groups of people throughout the world (i.e., Mexico, Eastern and central Africa). Spirulina has great nutritional value - 60-70% of the weight is amino acids, a great source of the carotenoids, especially beta carotene, iron, one of the essential fats (GLA: gamma-linoleic acid), chlorophyll and other vitamins. The constituent or phytochemical that gives it the blue-green color is "phycocyanin." In clinical studies, this pytochemical can help in the production of red blood cells. There are approximately 100 studies on spirulina for uses in immune stimulation, especially the organs involved in immune system control: spleen, thymus and bone marrow. Naturopathic physicians often use spirulina for assistance in lowering blood cholesterol (due to the high GLA) and for detoxification.
Because of the beta carotene content that can be converted to Vitamin A in the body, most notable is the research in kids where spirulina prevented blindness due to the Vitamin A. It was recognized by the World Health Organization as a treatment for radiation sickness in the area of Chernobyl after the nuclear reaction.
Average intake for adults is 2,000 to 3,000 mg per day. For children, it 500 to 1,500 mg per day. The safety of spirulina has been well studied, and it has been found to have no toxic side effects. The biggest issue is to make sure of the source of spirulina, so that it has not been contaminated with heavy metals from its water source. Reputable companies will test their product for this (you can always request this info from any manufacturer).
While the above benefits are fairly well documented, there is currently only inconclusive data on the benefits of spirulina use in already healthy individuals.
- Herb Research Foundation. www.herbs.org
- The Natural Physicians Healing Therapies. Mark Stengler, N.D. 2001.
- Prentice Hall Press. The Complete Encyclopedia of Nutraceuticals by ANA board. 2000. Perigee Publishing