FOOD, FACTS and FADS

Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

What is Spirulina?

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Spirulina are classified as cyanobacteria which are organisms present in aquatic environments.

The food supplement business has promoted Spirulina as a so-called “superfood” for decades. Products found on the health food shelves are capsules and powders consisting of dried cyanobacteria, primarily from the genus Spirulina. These products are promoted as a treatment or cure for a wide variety of disorders including asthma, allergies, viral hepatitis, anxiety, depression, fatigue, hypoglycemia, digestive problems and attention deficit disorder. They also claim to help weight gain, improve memory, boost immune system and restore overall cellular balance (whatever that means). Sound too good to be true? It is.

The organisms contain large amounts of chlorophyll, but humans don’t carry out photosynthesis, so why eat it? They also contain small amounts of protein, beta carotene and a few vitamins and minerals, but you would have to consume cupfuls to make any significant nutritional difference. These products may also contain some toxic compounds such as heavy metals since they come from natural lakes.

Supplement manufacturers have made these claims for decades; however, medicine has yet to provide any research or evidence that would support their use as treatments or have special curative powers.

By the way, according to Wikipedia, “spirulina does not contain vitamin naturally), and spirulina supplements are not considered to be a reliable source of vitamin B12, as they contain predominantly pseudovitamin B12 which is biologically inactive in humans .In a 2009 position paper on vegetarian diets, the American Dietetic Association stated that Spirulina is not a reliable source of active vitamin B12. The medical literature similarly advises that Spirulina is unsuitable as a source of B12

Lots of snake oil, here, I’m afraid.

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