Spirulina is a type of algae that grows in fresh or salt water. It comes as a supplement, in tablet or powder form. People use it for its health benefits, as it is rich in nutrients and has antioxidant properties.
Spirulina is among the world’s most popular supplements. It is made from an organism that grows in both fresh and saltwater.
It is a type of cyanobacteria, which is a family of single-celled microbes that are often referred to as blue-green algae. Just like plants, cyanobacteria can produce energy from sunlight via a process called photosynthesis.
Spirulina was consumed by the ancient Aztecs but became popular again when NASA proposed that it could be grown in space for use by astronauts.
These days, people use spirulina to boost the levels of nutrients and antioxidants in their bodies, and it may help protect against various diseases.
Here are 10 evidence-based health uses and benefits of spirulina.
Spirulina can help lower total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol, and triglycerides, while also increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol, which are all risk factors for heart disease.
Spirulina contains protein, vitamins, and minerals and has antioxidant properties. It may help manage inflammation, blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure, among other benefits.
Who should not take spirulina?
Spirulina is generally considered safe. The Dietary Supplements Information Expert Committee (DSI-EC) has said that it does not pose a major risk to health. However, it may cause some side effects such as difficulty sleeping and problems with digestion.
People taking certain blood-pressure-lowering, immunosuppressant, or cholesterol-lowering medications, may need to avoid spirulina due to the potential for interaction with certain chemicals in spirulina.
Always check with a doctor that spirulina is safe for you to use, follow any instructions with care, and obtain your supplements from a reputable source. Some products may be contaminated with heavy metals and other toxins or bacteria.
If you want to give this supplement a try, it’s widely available in stores and online.
Last medically reviewed on September 18, 2023
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Hannah JMA, et al. (2020). Effects of Spirulina platensis on insulin secretion, dipeptidyl peptidase IV activity and both carbohydrate digestion and absorption indicate potential as an adjunctive therapy for diabetes. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7547908/
Naeini F, et al. (2021). Spirulina supplementation as an adjuvant therapy in enhancement of antioxidant capacity: A systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled clinical trials. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34235823/