The positive health benefits of blue green algae on humans have been extensively studied by researchers across the world. While there are many studies that claim blue green algae, with its abundant protein and fatty acid content help humans in treating certain disorders, there are those who say the benefits have been exaggerated.
To know whether blue green algae are indeed effective against certain human ailments, a detailed study on the subject is highly necessary. Here, we present few known and unknown health benefits, facts and studies about blue green algae.
What are Blue Green Algae?
Years ago, blue green algae were consumed by natives of Mexico and Central Africa to counter poor nutrition conditions in humans.Friendly Blue Green Algae are known by the following names – Spirulina Platensis, spirulina maxima, Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA). These single celled microorganisms are one of the most primitive species of algae found on Earth.
Spirulina consists of more than 1500 collection of different marine plant species. Not all species of blue green algae can be consumed by humans (except Spirulina maxima and Spirulina platensis).Blue Green algae are a large group of plant like organisms found mainly in tropical and sub tropical salt water bodies, and are also found in some large fresh water resources.
The water bodies where these groups of organisms are found are generally dark green in color (due to their presence). The benefits of Blue green algae differ based on temperature changes, climate differences and sun’s radiation levels. They can also get easily contaminated due to the presence of certain bacteria and heavy metal concentrations found in water bodies.
For scientific studies and for manufacturing health supplements, blue green algae are grown under controlled conditions. Once the benefits of blue green algae were highlighted by some scientific studies, it was commercially grown, dried and marketed extensively as a nutritional supplement. These types of algae are largely found in Africa and also in Central and South America. However, controlled cultivation of these algae is largely done in big tanks in US and Asia also.
How Does it Work?
The general belief regarding the health benefits of blue green algae is that it is highly rich in protein and few other important vitamins & minerals. Studies have shown that extracts from Spirulina include – antioxidant, anti viral, anti cancer, liver supporting and anti allergic properties.
They are also rich in protein, carotenoids, minerals and few other vitamins. Blue green algae also have unusually high levels of an essential poly unsaturated fatty acid known as gamma linolenic acid that is beneficial to the human body.
Availability of Spirulina Platensis/Blue Green Algae
In the market, Spirulina or blue green algae supplements are available in the following forms – tablets, flakes, capsules and powder.
Benefits of Blue Green Algae
According to some studies, Blue green algae supplements are a good source of carotenoids, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc and copper, especially for vegetarians. Spirulina Platensis is rich in high quality protein and contains all the nine essential amino acids needed by the human body. Some studies also claim that blue green algae have 20 times more protein content than what is found in soybeans.
To Counter Viral Infections
Few studies have indicated that using blue green algae supplements help in countering viral infection as well as swelling (inflammation) symptoms in human beings. Many people consume blue green algae to boost their immunity power.
To Treat Pre-cancerous Growths
Blue green algae are also used to treat precancerous growths in the mouth (oral leukoplakia). This finding was released based on a study conducted in India.
To Prevent Blindness
The World Health Organization (WHO) once distributed blue green algae supplements to children living in under developed countries with the objective to reduce blindness due to Vitamin A deficiency.
As an Energy Booster
Some consider blue green algae supplements an effective way to enhance their energy and performance levels. However, one study showed that blue green algae can be used as a performance enhancer only in those individuals who are nutritionally deficient. It is also known that blue green algae are fed to race horses as it offers additional rush of energy to the animal (adrenaline rush).
For Weight Loss
One study related to blue green algae claims that it can be used to stabilize the blood sugar levels and thereby, to reduce the weight in overweight subjects.
Few studies indicate that blue green algae effectively fights high cholesterol levels in humans as it has high amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) and alpha-linolenic acid.
Apart from the above given benefits, isolated studies related to blue green algae have highlighted the following findings – might benefit children with Attention Deficit Disorders (ADD & ADHD), increases metabolism rate, heals wounds, helps in digestion & good bowel movements, fights hay fever, anxiety, depression, Premenstrual syndrome etc.
There are no known deficiency symptoms related to Blue Green Algae
The minimum recommended daily dosage level of Spirulina includes 3-5 grams taken in divided dose. The maximum recommended dosage level of Spirulina should not go beyond 50 grams per day. The supplement should be taken along with meals.
In the study related to the benefits of blue green algae for precancerous mouth sores, subjects were given a daily dose of 1 gm of Spirulina for one year. Similarly, the study that dealt with children with ADD & ADHD, the dosage level was also 1 gm of AFA per day for 6 months.
However, the correct dosage levels of nutritional supplements depend to a large extent on the individuals existing health conditions. Therefore, before taking any natural supplement including Spirulina always take the prior approval of a qualified medical practitioner.
Over dose, Side Effects & Other Considerations
According to Canada’s health department, people should restrain from consuming blue green algae found in natural lakes for a considerable longer period of time as it releases a liver damaging byproduct. This natural supplement should not be used in children without proper medical guidance. Those with auto-immune diseases and phenylketonuria should not take blue green algae supplements.
Excessive consumption of blue green algae at high dosage levels may result in the formation of kidney stones, damage the liver and result in the following symptoms – nausea, vomiting, rapid heartbeat and possibly death.
Blue Green Algae Reviews
Contamination-free blue green algae are found to be effective against precancerous mouth lesions, PMS and Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder. When taken orally, blue green algae supplements offer the following to the human body – high protein, iron, and other important mineral contents. Blue Green Algae supplements are available in all leading stores. For proper storage follow the instructions given in the product package.
It is important to note that the FDA has not reviewed blue green algae supplements so far. Therefore, always follow your physician’s advice related to this health supplement. Also, consume only those blue green algae products that are free from heavy metal toxins and harmful bacteria.
Possible Drug Interactions
Blue Green Algae supplements may interact with drugs related to immune system disorder.