Adding supplements and superfoods to your diet is an excellent way to take care of your health and well-being. However, when it comes to spirulina supplements, there’s a lot you need to consider before purchasing them.
Here’s a detailed guide to help you find the best brand of spirulina.
What Is Spirulina?
Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae packed with nutrients. It grows free, or it can be cultivated near lakes and saltwater.
It can be used fresh as a whole food or dried and pulverized in powder, capsules, or tablets.
High–quality spirulina contains incredible amounts of proteins and amino acids. It also contains vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, glycolipids, and polysaccharides. Simply put — it’s a real superfood.
What Makes It Healthy?
We mentioned that spirulina is packed with nutrients, but let’s break down its nutritional profile and see what exactly it consists of:
- 57%–60% of spirulina’s dry weight consists of proteins and amino acids. Our body can’t produce amino acids. We have to obtain them from food and supplements, and pure spirulina is a good way of doing that.
- Approximately 20% of spirulina are complex carbs.
- 5%–7% of its weight is fats, especially omega-3 and 6.
- Spirulina is also rich in provitamin A (beta-carotene). It also contains vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, and vitamin E.
- The algae are also packed with magnesium, iron, zinc, selenium, potassium, sodium, and calcium.
It truly deserves the title of superfood!
Who Can Benefit from Spirulina?
Not even the best–quality spirulina can substitute traditional therapy or be used as a standalone therapy. However, if used as a supplement, it can significantly help:
- People with allergies
- People with diabetes
- People with high blood pressure
- Malnourished people
- People with weak immune systems, and
- People living in areas with high arsenic content in drinking water.
How to Recognize Quality Spirulina
There’s a significant number of companies that use low-quality spirulina. Some even go as far as to use algae similar to spirulina to trick the users. None of those companies are on our spirulina reviews list. Nonetheless, here are a few tips on recognizing quality spirulina.
Labeling and Composition
To be sure you’re getting the right product, choose the one that has Spirulina, Spirulina platensis, or Arthrospira platensis on the label.
Also, pay attention to the content. Tablets and capsules should have at least 98% spirulina content. Similarly, the powder should be 100% spirulina.
It goes without saying you should avoid additives and fillers.
Typically, spirulina powder comes in resealable pouches. They’re convenient, lightweight, and easy to store — nothing to worry about.
However, if you’re buying spirulina tablets and capsules, make sure it comes in a brown, medical-grade bottle with an airtight seal. It’ll protect the algae from going bad in the sunlight.
Country of Origin and Sourcing
Spirulina grown in the wild produces microcystin as a way of defending itself from predators. This hepatotoxin can be toxic for your liver if taken in high doses.
On the contrary, spirulina grown in controlled conditions has much lower microcystin levels. So, it doesn’t pose any danger.
However, just to be sure everything’s alright, go for a company that tests its products in a third-party lab.
The best source of spirulina is California, followed by India and China.
Color, Aroma, and Smell
Good spirulina has a dark green matte color and a distinctive fishy flavor. If the powder is shiny or dusty, it means that spirulina was crushed, compacted, and covered with a coating to prevent it from crushing again.
While this is nothing to be alarmed about, you should be aware that spirulina loses some of its nutritional benefits this way.
Additionally, if the powder’s aroma is too strong and repulsive, spirulina might be spoiled by oxidation.
How fast spirulina dissolves in water will signify how many nutrients your body can absorb from it. The ideal spirulina superfood powder dissolution should not be too fast nor slow. That way, the algae can reach the stomach, and the small intestine can absorb all the needed nutrients, not just have the supplement pass through your digestive system.
While spirulina doesn’t contain the usual allergens, such as dairy, egg, nuts, wheat, soy, etc., the facility where it’s produced might. Another trace element that could creep into your spirulina supplement is iodine.
Just be sure to check the label for allergen warnings to avoid any allergic reactions.
Organic Spirulina Isn’t Always the Answer
While in most cases organic means better overall quality, when it comes to spirulina, it makes almost no difference.
It all comes down to the growing process and your personal preferences. Organic cultivation may mean using animal-waste for fertilization. Therefore, if you’re a vegan, you may want to go for a non-organic option.
Or, if you’re keen on going organic, make sure the company uses animal-friendly practices.
Mask That Fishy Flavor
Even the highest–quality spirulina has a fishy flavor. It usually isn’t a big issue for most users. However, a small number of people can’t stand the aquarium-like taste of the algae.
Now, we recommend using the purest form of spirulina. Still, there are flavored options if you absolutely can’t stand its natural taste. As long as the company uses natural flavors, there’s no risk of decreasing spirulina’s nutritional benefits. But note that added flavor may increase the caloric value.
The Best Form of Spirulina: Powder Vs. Capsules
Typically, spirulina comes in the form of powder, tablets, and capsules. You can also find it in different energy bars, healthy snacks, and mouth-watering keto shakes. Which form you’ll take depends entirely on your preferences, as spirulina is nutritious in all its forms.
Pills and capsules are more convenient to carry, and you can swallow them wherever you are. On the other hand, the powder is more versatile. You can blend it into your protein shake and smoothie, add to your bread mixture, or even sprinkle over a salad.
Add Chlorella into the Equation
Spirulina capsules and powder can also contain chlorella — another very potent type of algae. Like spirulina, chlorella, too, is packed with nutrients. It has ten times more chlorophyll than spirulina and 50 times more chlorophyll than wheatgrass.
It purifies blood and filters out impurities from our bodies. Moreover, it has high levels of nucleic and amino acids, as well as peptides.
The combo is a great health booster.
As we mentioned, spirulina has a dense concentration of nutrients. It’s one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. Here are just a fraction of its health benefits:
- Packed with nutrients that will provide your body with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and nutrients your body needs to function.
- Rich in antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties that protect your body from damaging free radicals.
- Lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides while raising HDL (good) cholesterol. That way, it reduces your chances of developing heart disease.
- Prevents the development of oral cancer. More research needs to be done, but scientists believe it can be beneficial to preventing other types of cancer.
- Pure spirulina powder lowers blood pressure. It helps the body produce nitric oxide that dilates and relaxes the blood vessels, thus lowering the blood pressure.
- Controls blood glucose levels. One small study discovered that it also has excellent potential for controlling type 2 diabetes symptoms.
- Boosts endurance during exercise. While exercising, your muscles endure oxidative damage. Spirulina’s antioxidant properties can help your muscles recover faster and boost your endurance during physical activity.
- Fights fatigue and anemia. Most often, a lack of vitamins causes fatigue. Spirulina is loaded with vitamins our body converts into energy.
The Best Spirulina Dosage
Spirulina has been used successfully in dosages that range from one to ten grams of raw powder per day.
Since we still don’t have enough high-quality human studies on spirulina, it’s best to follow the manufacturer’s directions. It’s best to start with a low dosage, see how your body reacts, and gradually increase or decrease the intake.
You should also consult your physician.
Possible Side Effects and Risks
Spirulina is generally considered safe for healthy adults, provided it’s pure and high-quality. It poses no risk for side effects.
However, even if you’re planning on consuming the best spirulina on the market, consult your doctor if you’re:
- A child
- Pregnant or nursing
- Suffering from any renal, hepatic, or hormonal diseases
- Taking any chronic medication