Spirulina: Health Benefits, Uses And Side Effects

Spirulina: Health Benefits, Uses And Side Effects

Spirulina has been shown to have potential health benefits, such as boosting immunity, reducing inflammation, improving cardiovascular health, and supporting detoxification processes.

Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that naturally occurs in various bodies of water worldwide, particularly in warm, alkaline conditions. It is a rich source of nutrients and has been consumed as a dietary supplement or food for centuries due to its high content of protein, essential amino acids, vitamins (B12, A, E, K), minerals (iron, calcium, magnesium), and antioxidants.

Spirulina is available in various forms, including powder, tablets, flakes, or supplements, making it a popular choice for those seeking to improve their overall health and nutrition.

Health Benefits Of Spirulina

1. Rich in essential nutrients

Spirulina is an excellent source of protein (up to 70%), essential amino acids, vitamins (B-complex, A, E, K), minerals (iron, calcium, magnesium), and antioxidants. It can support overall nutritional balance and help meet daily dietary requirements for various nutrients.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), one tablespoon or 7 grams (g) of dried spirulina contains:

  • 20.3 calories
  • 4.02 g of protein
  • 1.67 g of carbohydrate
  • 0.54 g of fat
  • 8.4 milligrams (mg) of calcium
  • 2 mg of iron
  • 13.6 mg of magnesium
  • 8.26 mg of phosphorous
  • 95.2 mg of potassium
  • 73.5 mg of sodium
  • 0.7 mg of vitamin C

It also contains thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate. Consuming spirulina is one way to supplement protein and vitamins in the diet. (2)

2. Immune system support

Spirulina has been shown to boost the production of immune cells, such as T-helper cells and natural killer (NK) cells, which play essential roles in protecting the body against infections and diseases. It may help strengthen the immune system, especially during periods of stress or illness.

3. Reduces inflammation

Spirulina possesses anti-inflammatory properties due to its content of phycocyanin, a pigmented compound with potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. It may help reduce inflammation in conditions such as arthritis, allergies, and asthma.

4. Cardiovascular health

Spirulina has been shown to have potential cardiovascular benefits, such as lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol levels, and improving heart function. It may help protect against heart diseases and stroke.

5. Antioxidant properties

Spirulina is rich in antioxidants, which can neutralize free radicals and prevent oxidative damage to cells. This property makes it effective in combating aging and various health conditions caused by oxidative stress.

6. Detoxification support

Spirulina has been used as a natural detoxifying agent due to its ability to absorb heavy metals, toxins, and other pollutants from the body. It may help improve liver function and promote overall body detoxification.

7. Allergy relief

Spirulina may provide relief for individuals with allergies by reducing inflammation, enhancing immune system function, and supporting respiratory health.

8. Improves energy levels

Spirulina’s rich nutrient content, particularly its protein and iron content, can help boost energy levels and improve endurance during physical activity.

9. May support weight loss

Spirulina has been shown to aid in weight loss due to its high protein content and ability to control hunger cravings.

10. May have potential anticancer effects

Spirulina may possess anticancer properties, such as inhibiting tumor growth and promoting apoptosis (cell death) of cancer cells.

To enjoy the health benefits of spirulina, it can be consumed in various forms, including powder, tablets, flakes, or supplements.

How To Include Spirulina In The Diet

As a powder:

  • add it to smoothies, which gives the drink a green color
  • sprinkle spirulina powder on salads or in soups
  • mix it into energy balls with other healthy ingredients
  • stir it into fruit or vegetable juices

You can also take spirulina as a dietary supplement in tablet form.

Precautions To Consider When Using Spirulina

1. Some commercial sources of spirulina may contain heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, or arsenic, due to environmental contamination. Choose reputable brands with third-party certifications for purity and safety to minimize the risk of heavy metal exposure.

2. Spirulina may cause allergic reactions in some people, especially those with a history of seafood allergies. Symptoms include itching, hives, swelling, rash, or shortness of breath. If you experience any of these symptoms after taking spirulina, discontinue use and consult your healthcare provider.

3. Individuals with autoimmune disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or Crohn’s disease, should exercise caution when using spirulina due to its potential immune-boosting effects. Consult your healthcare provider before incorporating spirulina into your diet.

4. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should consult their healthcare provider before taking spirulina supplements, as there is limited research on its safety during pregnancy and lactation.

5. Spirulina may affect blood pressure and blood sugar levels, so individuals with hypertension or hypoglycemia should monitor their levels closely when using spirulina and consult their healthcare provider for guidance.

6. In some cases, spirulina consumption may cause digestive side effects, such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, or nausea. These symptoms are usually mild and temporary but can be avoided by starting with low doses and gradually increasing the amount over time.

7. Spirulina may interact with certain medications.

As always, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional before incorporating spirulina or any new supplement into your diet, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications that may interact with it.

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The information here is provided for informational purposes only. It is not presented with the intention of diagnosing or treating any disease or condition. It is in no way intended to substitute for the advice provided by your doctor or other health care professional. (Read more)


  1. What are the benefits of spirulina? – https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324027
  2. Seaweed, spirulina, dried – https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170495/nutrients

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