4 ounce bag

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What is Spirulina Blue-Green Algae?

Spirulina plantensis is a food supplement form of a one-celled, spiral-shaped microscopic blue-green algae that is exceedingly adaptable to its surroundings and naturally occurs in a wide variety of environments including fresh water, tropical springs, and saltpans. It is not a sea plant, but does grow in fresh water bodies that contain a higher than usual amount of salt. Because of its natural ability to grow in warm environments that other organisms cannot survive in, spirulina is actually one of the most sterile foods on earth. It is also known to be one of the earliest forms of life and has been on the planet for more than 3.6 billion years. Spirulina is both a complete food and a whole food supplement. Long before it became known as a "probiotic" or "super food" by the health food industry, spirulina has been consumed by humans worldwide for centuries because of its rich nutrient range and ability to sustain life even without need for other foods. Today, spirulina farming has become a part of the new era of ecological agriculture and is recognized as a powerful food source.

Spirulina also contains extensive levels of trace elements and essential minerals. In its natural aquatic environment, minerals that have been deposited from ancient soils become chelated with their amino acids and can thus be more easily assimilated by the body. Aside from being a vegetarian source of vitamin B12, other major nutritional components of spirulina that are of significant value to human health are Essential Fatty Oils (rich in gamma linolenic acid (GLA) which is effective against viral infections and promotes cardiovascular health), Phycocyanin (stimulates the immune system by making iron more bio-available), Chlorophyll (cleanses and detoxifies the body and helps to remove heavy metals from the system), Beta-carotene (10 times greater than carrots), and antioxidants (for complete immune support).

For more than 30 years spirulina (Spirulina platensis) has been the first choice for supplementing a vegetarian diet. This special blue-green algae is a good source of numerous vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, and essential fatty acids which are very difficult to reach and maintain at sufficient concentrations with a vegetarian diet. Most notable is the high quality protein, which contains all nine essential amino acids. Although this simple organism has been around for millions of years, it was only fairly recently when it has earned recognition as the superfood of the future because of its remarkable nutritional content. Spirulina, in comparison with either beef or soybeans, is a much better source of protein. It is also among the rare non-animal sources of vitamin B12, and contains twice the amount of B12 found in beef liver, which makes it an excellent addition to the vegetarian diet.

In the United States, Spirulina is sold as a dietary supplement, and dietary supplements are regulated as foods, not drugs. Therefore, premarket evaluation and approval by the Food and Drug Administration are not required unless claims are made for specific disease prevention or treatment.

Health Benefits of Spirulina

Spirulina is best known for its ability to boost the immune system, and research indicates it may even help both treat and prevent cancer. Spirulina stimulates the natural killer (NK) cells that fight illness and attack and kill cancerous cells. In one study performed in India, participants taking spirulina saw a complete remission of mouth cancer. Spirulina is sometimes referred to as the world's richest natural whole food source because of its phenomenal nutritional profile. It is also referred to as a "green food" or "whole food" because not only does it contain a huge array of trace minerals, carbohydrates, enzymes , amino acids and essential fatty acids, greater than 60% of spirulina is a highly digestible and biologically complete plant protein, providing higher amounts of protein than either red meat or soy.

Owing to the fact that Spirulina is rich in highly valuable proteins, amino acids, vitamins, beta-carotene and other pigments, mineral substances, fatty acids and polysaccharides, spirulina has been found beneficial for use as a bioactive additive. Spirulina strengthens the immune system by improving the synthesis of antibodies and cytokines thus improving resistance of humans, mammals, chickens and fish to infections. Spirulina sulfolipids have proved to be effective against HIV. Preparations obtained from Spirulina biomass have also been found active against herpes virus, cytomegalovirus, influenza virus, etc. Spirulina preparations are regarded as functional products contributing to the preservation of the resident intestinal microflora, especially lactic acid bacilli and bifidobacteria.

Spirulina has shown the ability to enhance immune function, and it also promotes hematopoiesis (formation and development of red blood cells) due to the high levels of iron present in this food supplement. Spirulina may protect against allergic reactions by blocking the release of histamines. By blocking histamine release, spirulina may prevent or lessen histamine's effects, which include blood vessel expansion, muscle contraction, and stomach acid production. Spirulina contains beta carotene, zeaxanthin and phycocyanin which have powerful antioxidant activity. Antioxidants are thought to protect body cells from damage caused by a chemical process called oxidation. Both the antioxidant and immune-enhancing effects of spirulina may give it some anticancer properties.

Additionally Spirulina increases production of antibodies, cytokines (infection fighting proteins), and other cells that improve immunity and help ward off infection and chronic illnesses such as cancer. In those with chronic hepatitis Spirulina may help protect against liver damage and cirrhosis (liver failure). Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) in spirulina is anti-inflammatory and antiproliferative. It is potentially useful for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis and diabetic neuropathy. It may also play a role in lowering plasma triglycerides and increasing HDL cholesterol, thus preventing cardiovascular diseases.

Purity and Concentration of Spirulina

Our Spirulina Powder is stored in dark, airtight vacuum sealed bags, and is very fresh. As a Protein source, Spirulina contains all eight essential amino acids. This is an important feature for two primary reasons: 1) because the body requires that all protein factors be present simultaneously to synthesize the body's repair and maintenance; and 2) because spirulina's primitive cellular structure and lack of hard cellular walls allows for rapid formation and synthesis of proteins, thus allowing for higher and more effective digestability of protein. Our Spirulina powder has more than 60% protein, Alanine (8%), Arginine (7.4%), Aspartic Acid (10.2%), Cysteine (0.9%), Glutamic Acid (15.5%), Glycine (5.0%), Histidine (1.6%), Isoleucine (5.3%), Leucine (9.1%), Lysine (5.2%), Methionine (2.0%), Phenylalanine (4.5%), Proline (4.1%), l-serine">Serine (5.0%), Threonine (5.0%), Tryptophan (1.4%), Tyrosine (4.2%) and Valine (6.0%). Having already been naturally pre-digested by the algae in its natural environment, spirulina is a highly digestible food and complete protein source.

People who are vegetarians or who have a poor diet or one loaded with processed food should definitely consider taking this supplement--it is a safe, nontoxic, and very efficient way to meet your total nutritional needs. In addition, many people reported that adding spirulina to their diet gave them extra energy and in some cases eliminated feelings of fatigue. There have been no toxic effects associated with the consumption of spirulina.

Potential Side Effects of Spirulina

Spirulina is not an essential nutrient and no symptoms of deficiency exist. Spirulina is considered generally safe. Possible side effects include headache, muscle pain, flushing and sweating. People with allergies to spirulina should avoid products containing spirulina. No interactions of spirulina with foods, medications, or herbs are documented. Spirulina grown in water contaminated with heavy metals can concentrate these toxins. Therefore, it is important to purchase products from qualified manufacturers and suppliers.

Recommended Dosage of Spirulina

Normally, people take between 25 and 100 grams per day of Spirulina powder for an average sized adult. Mix 10 grams, or approximately one rounded tablespoon in 8 to 12 ounces juice or water. For maximum results, take the juice/water three times a day. You can see the full bulk density/volumetric conversion chart for Spirulina here. Taking 1/2 level tablespoon will supply a total dose of about 4.5 grams. For weight loss, a dose of 200 mg has been taken three times daily by mouth just before meals. It can also be mixed into a smoothie of your choice if you prefer.

Retail dosages of Spirulina powder are commonly between 3 and 10 grams daily, this is partly due to retailers trying to keep the perceived monthly costs of consumption down. However, spirulina in the bulk powder form is much less expensive, and literally as a complete food, you can eat as much of it as you like. Some pre-modern cultures in South America & Africa probably consumed more then 250 grams per day (nearly 50% of their entire diet) of Spirulina Powder in the form of sundried cakes.

Bioavailability, Mixing and Solubility of Spirulina

Spirulina powder has a dark bluish green appearance and has a slight marine smell and taste. Spirulina is slightly soluble in normal water. But its solubility characteristics show maximum solubility in the pH range of 8 to 10 in water and pH 6.0 +/- 0.5 in 0.5 M sodium chloride. The most common and accurate way of measuring the Spirulina powder is by tablespoons (tbsps.) and teaspoons (tsps.). Spirulina is best in water or juice. Any recipe for a smoothie works well with Spirulina. It does not have a very bad taste and can be easily covered up in juice or smoothies. It is possible to sprinkle food or use as a seasoning to soups, dressings, dips, sauces and casseroles. When adding to liquids though, it best to blend the Spirulina powder in a small amount of water before adding to recipes.

References & Further Research

Spirulina and blood cholesterol: Hypocholesterolemic effect of spirulina in patients with hyperlipidemic nephrotic syndrome
In nephrotic syndrome, large amounts of plasma proteins are lost in urine, causing a decrease in the plasma oncotic pressure. This leads to enhanced hepatic synthesis of albumin and other proteins, including lipoproteins, causing a secondary hyperlipidemia. In this study 23 patients (age 2 to 13 years) with nephrotic syndrome received either medication (group I) or medication plus 1 gram a day Spirulina. It can be concluded that spirulina capsules, rich in antioxidants, GLA, amino acids, and fatty acids, helped reduce the increased levels of lipids in patients with hyperlipidemic nephrotic syndrome.

Spirulina and exercise performance: Preventive effects of Spirulina platensis on skeletal muscle damage under exercise-induced oxidative stress
The effects of spirulina supplementation on preventing skeletal muscle damage on untrained human beings were examined. Sixteen students volunteered to take Spirulina platensis in addition to their normal diet for 3-weeks. The results showed that plasma concentrations of malondialdehyde (MDA) were significantly decreased after supplementation with spirulina. The activity of blood superoxide dismutase (SOD) was significantly raised after supplementation with spirulina or soy protein. Both of the blood glutathione peroxidaes (GPx) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) levels were significantly different between spirulina and soy protein supplementation. In addition, the lactate concentration was higher and the time to exhaustion was significantly extended in the spirulina trail. These results suggest that ingestion of Spirulina platensis showed preventive effect of the skeletal muscle damage and that probably led to postponement of the time of exhaustion during the all-out exercise.

Spirulina and allergic rhinitis: Effects of a Spirulina-based dietary supplement on cytokine production from allergic rhinitis patients
We evaluated the impact of a Spirulina based dietary supplement (Earthrise Nutritionals, Inc., Irvine, CA) on patients with allergic rhinitis by assessing the production of cytokines [interleukin (IL)-4, interferon (IFN)-gamma, and IL-2] critical in regulating immunoglobulin E-mediated allergy. These results indicate that Spirulina can modulate the Th profile in patients with allergic rhinitis by suppressing the differentiation of Th2 cells mediated, in part, by inhibiting the production of IL-4. To our knowledge, this is the first human feeding study that demonstrates the protective effects of Spirulina towards allergic rhinitis.

Protective effect of Spirulina on lead induced deleterious changes in the lipid peroxidation and endogenous antioxidants in rats
The present study aims to investigate the protective effect of Spirulina on lead-induced changes in the levels of lipid peroxidation and endogenous antioxidants in liver, lung, heart, kidney and brain of rats. Levels of elemental lead were also measured in the organs of rats in all experimental groups. In the liver, lung, heart and kidney of lead-exposed animals, there was a significant increase in the lipid peroxidation and a decrease in the levels of endogenous antioxidants. Although, Spirulina did not affect the deposition of lead in organs apart from the brain, simultaneous administration of Spirulina to lead exposed animals significantly inhibited lipid peroxidation and restored the levels of endogenous antioxidants to normal. Spirulina had a significant effect on scavenging free radicals, thereby protecting the organs from damage caused by the exposure to lead. Further more, Spirulina showed a significant decrease in the deposition of lead in the brain.

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