Spirulina – A Superfood With Benefits
Article by Aqiyl Henry
Spirulina Is Loaded With Vital Nutrients
Spirulina is fresh water blue-green algae, and compared to other sea vegetables spirulina is more easily digested and has greater bio-availability. Greater bio-availability means a greater amount absorption of the nutrients into the bloodstream. Spirulina is considered a superfoodbecause the abundance of various nutrients it is comprised of.
Spirulina And Protein
Sixty percent of spirulina is made up of protein. Amazingly it is a complete protein because it contains all theessential amino acids, amino acids that the body cannot synthesize and must get externally. Spirulina’s protein makeup is superior to other plant protein, and is on par with the protein from meat, eggs, and dairy, except for the reduced amounts of methionine, cysteine and lysine (amino acids). Spirulina is mostly used as a supplement now, but it can be used as a food, and has been. The Aztecs and other indigenous people South America used spirulina as a food source before the Spanish colonized South America and changed the landscape for agricultural and urban development.
Spirulina And Vitamin B
Spirulina contains vitamin B1 (Thiamine),vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), vitamin B3 (Niacin), vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine), and vitamin B9 (Folate).
Spirulina also contains vitamin B12, but there are two sides to the argument as to whether it is a reliable source of vitamin B12. The accepted medical literature supports the B12 in spirulina as being an unreliable source of B12. There are unaccepted assays that support the B12 in spirulina being a reliable source of B12. The B12 in animal products are called active B12 and is the B12 used primarily in the body, and the B12 in spirulina are called analog or non-active B12. I have found that this is a very muddy subject.
There are people who testify that they eat no animal products or derivatives and that their B12 level is fine because they take spirulina as a supplement, but there is literature that clearly states that spirulina is not a reliable source of B12. During my vegan diet my B12 levels dropped but they were still in the middle of the accepted scale for B12 levels. I haven’t been taking as much spirulina as I used to because I take more chlorella now. So to be safe, I recently began to take a vegan B12 supplement here and there. I do like to stay away from man-made supplements because they are man-made and I like to get my nutrients from food. I am still not convinced that spirulina is not a reliable source of B12 and I plan on revisiting the issue in the future.
An interesting thing is that B12 does not come from animals, but is ingested by grazing animals from the plants they eat. The B12 is then passed on the other animal eaters. The B12 that is the active form we use comes from microorganisms in the soil that use the cobalt in the soil to make the active form of B12. This active form of B12 is the only vitamin that contains a trace element, cobalt.
Other Vitamins and Minerals
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
Rich In Life Sustaining Plant Pigments
It may sound funny to hear that plant pigments can sustain life, but yes it is true. Spirulina contains a combination of pigments, which have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and some of which the body can convert into vitamin A. These powerful antioxidantscan help prevent some forms of cancer and heart disease, and they enhance the immune response to infections. These life supporting pigments include allophycocyanin, beta-carotene (orange color), beta-cryptoxanthin, canthaxanthin, chlorophyll (green color), diatoxanthin, echinenone, myxoxanthophyll, oscillaxanthin, phycocyanin (blue color), and xanthophyll, zeaxanthin.
Essential Fatty Acids
We need essential fatty acids(omega-3 and omega-6) to support the cardiovascular, reproductive, immune, and nervous systems. The human body needs the essential fatty acids to manufacture and repair cell membranes, enabling the cells to obtain optimum nutrition and expel harmful waste products. Spirulina is rich in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). Spirulina also contains alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), arachidonic acid (AA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), linoleic acid (LA), and stearidonic acid (SDA).