Move Over Fish Oil – Vegans Bring in the Spirulina
For all those vegans (and non-vegans) out
there who are hesitant to supplement with fish oil there’s an even
better solution for you.
It’s called spirulina and it is one of the most incredible foods our
planet has to offer. Spirulina is a blue-green algae. Spirulina usually
grows in waters of lakes naturally alkaline localized in arid zones.
Spirulina has unparalleled health benefits (explained later) and is an
incredibly sustainable food source. For instance, according the journal
Human Nature, spirulina presents a fast reproduction rate, dividing
itself three times a day! Therefore, an area exclusively aimed at
spirulina growth may produce 125 times more protein if
compared to an area of the same size aimed at growing corn
and 70 times more protein if compared to the breeding of
Furthermore, the spirulina presents some advantages in relation to
other algae and seaweeds such as presenting no problems with
digestion and no toxicity to humans. This can’t be said for other
seaweeds such as Chlorella.
Spirulina – the omega-3 food choice for
Now let’s get to the good stuff. If you’re a vegan and looking for an
alternative to fish then spirulina is what you want. This is because
algaes, like spirulina, are athe original source of omega-3 fatty
acids. Algaes are what small, bottom-feeding fish consume. These fish
are then eaten by larger ones, and then eventually by humans. Cold
water fish, which are well-known for their omega-3 fatty acids, owe
their “omega-3 fame” to the consumption algaes such as spirulina,
even if indirectly.
Here are some more incredible nutritional characteristics of spirulina.
For starters, spirulina is the probably the highest vegetarian protein
source consisting of 60-70% protein! It is also rich in chlorophyll and
carotenoids, vitamins (vitamin A, especially) and tons of important
minerals from deep in the seabed. An important note (especially for
vegetarians and vegans) is that spirulina is a terrific source of
vitamin B12 and iron.
Iron is the most common mineral deficiency in the world. Since
spirulina contains high iron concentrations its bioavailability has been
tested in comparison to ferrous sulfate which is the typical iron
supplement. One such comparison was revealed in the journal
Nutrition Research, spirulina fed rats absorbed 60% more iron
than rats fed the iron supplement!
So next time someone asks you where you’re getting your protein,
iron, or B12 from just tell them you’re eating an incredible blue-green
powder called spirulina.
Aside from human breast milk and evening primrose oil, spirulina is
the only food source rich in gamma linoleic acid (GLA). The GLA
content comprises 25% of the total polyunsaturated fatty acid content
of spirulina, a number that is much higher than the GLA content of
evening primrose oil (only 7%)!
The Importance of GLA
GLA is essential fatty acid that has numerous benefits to the body.
Along with omega-3 fatty acids, GLA has powerful anti-inflammatory
properties. Both are excellent skin fatty acids for preventing and
treating eczema, psoriasis, wrinkles, rashes and more.
Research has confirmed that GLA has positive effects in breast
cancer treatment; they enhance lubrication in those with Sjogren's
syndrome; help relieve PMS symptoms, breast pain, skin conditions
(including eczema and psoriasis, and wrinkles), and attention-deficit
hyperactivity disorder in children; improve cardiovascular health,
mental health; and much more!
A British study published in 2000 observed women who had locally
advanced and metastatic breast cancer (when cancer cells spread
elsewhere in the body). They found that women with breast cancer
who were taking Tamoxifen (a drug that blocks estrogen-receptor
positive breast cancer) and received GLA demonstrated faster clinical
response than those taking Tamoxifen alone. Study participants
received 3 grams of GLA. The researchers concluded that GLA was a
useful adjunct to primary Tamoxifen treatment with no serious side
effects: "… this study suggests high-dose oral GLA to be a valuable
new agent in the treatment of hormone-sensitive breast cancer."
Spirulina’s Effects on Blood Lipids and
Numerous studies on rats have shown that spirulina has powerful
effects on blood lipids and cholesterol. Almost all these studies show a
reduction in LDL (bad) cholesterol, triglycerides, and fat
deposits in the arteries upon consuming spirulina.
A human study investigating the cholesterol-lowering effect of spirulina
published in Nutrition Reports International looked at 30 male
volunteers who had mild hyperlipidemia and mild hypertension. They
were divided into two groups. Group A subjects were given spirulina at
4.2 g/day and group B subjects the same amount of spirulina for 4
weeks and, then were observed for the next 4 weeks without spirulina.
The results showed a statistically significant reduction of LDL-
cholesterol in Group A subjects after 8 weeks. The LDL-cholesterol also
fell significantly in Group B subjects after 4 weeks of spirulina
consumption, but thereafter increased to its baseline value after
administration of spirulina was discontinued.
Anti-Cancer and Anti-Radioactive
Properties of Spirulina
Several animal studies have shown that spirulina inhibits tumor and
protects the body from cancer propagation.
There are also unpublished reports from scientists and doctors about
the radioprotective effect of spirulina in experiments conducted on
child victims of the Chernobyl radiation. In a study involving 49
children, 3-7 years old, in Beryozovka, administration of spirulina for
45 days resulted in an increase in T-cell suppressors and beneficial
hormones. In addition, the radioactivity of the urine decreased in 83%
of the children!
These are just some of the powerful benefits and healing powers
possessed by spirulina. So whether or not you supplement with fish
oil, I would highly recommend spirulina as an addition to your diet for
lifelong health, strength, and vigor!
p.s. Discover tons of great spirulina-based recipes in Eating for
Energy. CLICK HERE!
1. Furst PT. Spirulina – a nutricious alga, once a staple of Aztec diet,
could feed many of the world hungry people. Human Nature
2. Nakaya N, Honma Y, Goto Y (1988) Cholesterol lowering effect of
Spirulina Nutr. Rep. Int. 37: 1329-1337.
3. Johnson P, Shubert LE (1986) Availability of iron to rats from
Spirulina, a blue-green alga. Nutr. Res. 6: 85-94.