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Spirulina superfood: Mother Nature’s Molecular Miracle

Spirulina is the Essence of Mother Nature

The healthy eating pyramid is a nutrition guide developed by the Harvard School of Public Health, suggesting daily food quantities a human should eat. The healthy eating pyramid is intended to provide a superior eating guide than the widespread food guide pyramid of USDA.

Healthy eating pyramid designed by Harvard University

Pyramid of healthy nutrition

DXN Spirulina contains most of the nutrients found in the foods in the healthy eating pyramid. Photo source: Harvard School of Public Health

The new pyramid includes more researches in dietary health that are not present in the USDA’s 1992 guide. The original USDA pyramid has been criticized for not differentiating between refined grains and whole grains, between saturated fats and unsaturated fats, and for not placing enough emphasis on exercise and weight control. It also was developed by the Department of Agriculture, not the Department of Health and Human Services.

Spiral structure of Spirulina platensis under the microscope.

Spiral structure of Spirulina platensis can be observed well under the microscope. Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

A daily multivitamin, multimineral supplement especially with extra vitamin D dose offers a kind of nutritional backup. While a multivitamin can’t in any way replace healthy eating, or make up for unhealthy eating, it can fill in the nutrient holes that may sometimes affect even the most careful eaters. Spirulina is nature’s multivitamin that meets the requirements of the USP (U.S. Pharmacopeia), an organization that sets standards for drugs and supplements. In addition to its bone-health benefits, there’s growing evidence that getting some extra vitamin D can help lower the risk of colon and breast cancer. Aim for getting at least 800 to 1,000 IU (international units) of vitamin D per day; that is naturally available in this amount in Spirulina.

Spirulina alga on sea-rocks in natural habitat

‘Wild’ Spirulina alga on the rocks in the sea, in natural habitat. Photo source: Pixabay

 

Frequently asked questions about Spirulina:

Does Spirulina contain antioxidants?

Yes, a lot!

Is it a probiotic food?

Of course!

Is it a nutraceutical?

Sure!

Is it loaded with phytochemicals?

You are right, with all kinds!

Dried green Spirulina alga sticks

Dried Spirulina alga in small sticks. Photo source: Will Power, Flickr

Spirulina from DXN company (DXN Holdings Berhad) also contains compounds like phycocyanin, polysaccharides, and sulfolipids that enhance the immune system. This superfood has the most remarkable concentration of functional nutrients ever known in any food, plant, grain or herb.

Superfood is used to describe food with high nutrient or phytochemical content that may confer health benefits.

Spirulina contains an amazing source of complete protein, 43% more than beef. Spirulina’s synthesis of sunlight converts concentrated amounts of protein more efficiently than any other living food.  Early research documented spirulina is safe consumption by traditional people. When scientists discovered that spirulina grew so fast, yielding 20 times more protein per acre than soybeans, they named it ’Food of the Future’. Spirulina is the best vegetable protein source, with a protein content of 65% higher than any other natural food. Yet, an even greater value is found in its concentration of vitamins, minerals and other unusual nutrients.

Spirulina green alga powder

Spirulina green alga powder absorbs the fastest from all the versions of this superfood. Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

 

What does Spirulina contain?

  • Protein and amino acids
  • Vitamins – protectors of health
  • Naturally colloidal minerals
  • Essential Fatty Acids
  • Phytonutrients
  • Protein and amino acids

Let’s examine these components of Spirulina in details, one-by-one:

 

Protein and amino acids

Water is the source of life; protein is the next source of life after water. The building blocks of life are protein and amino acids. When comparing protein sources, several criteria should be considered:

  • Amino acid quality
  • Net protein utilization and usable protein
  • Protein digestibility
Amino acid quality

Protein is composed of amino acids. Essential amino acids cannot be manufactured in the body and must be supplied in the diet. Non-essential amino acids are needed too, but thebody can synthesize them. Essential amino acids, plus sufficient nitrogen in foods, are needed to synthesize the non-essential amino acids. A protein is considered complete if it has all the essential amino acids. Spirulina is just that, a complete protein.

The body requires amino acids in specific proportions. If a food is low in one or more amino acids, those amino acids are called limiting amino acids, and the body cannot use all the amino acids completely. The most ideal proportion of amino acids is found in eggs. All other foods have some limiting amino acids.

Limiting amino acids in spirulina are methionine and cystine, but it is still higher in these amino acids than grains, seeds, vegetables and legumes, and higher in lysine than all vegetables except legumes. Spirulina complements vegetable protein and increases the amino acid quality if eaten within several hours of other foods. Over 100% of the daily essential amino acid requirements for a typical adult male are supplied by using only 36 grams of spirulina, about 4 heaping tablespoons.

Net protein utilization and usable protein

In other words, the bio-avaibility of protein is very crucial. Bio-avaibility represents the percentage or scale rating of just how much our bodies can make use of certain protein sources. You need to know that our bodies and digestive systems absorb some protein better than others and also certain sources will provide a higher amino acid profile.

Feeding tests rank proteins by Net Protein Utilization (NPU) value, determined by amino acid quality, digestibility (proportion absorbed by the intestines) and biological value (proportion relatined by the body). Dried eggs (94) have the highest value, followed by milk (70-82), fish (80) and meat (67). Spirulina (62) is similar to grains and has a higher NPU than nuts (2.5).

By multiplying protein quantity by the NPU, we determine the usable protein as a percentage of the food’s composition. Spirulina is second only to dried eggs, and higher than any of the common foods in the form in which they are usually purchased.

Protein digestibility

Spirulina has no cellulose in its cell walls, being composed of soft mucopolysaccharides. This makes it easily digested and assimilated. It is 85-95% digestible. This easy digestibility is especially important for people suffering from intestinal malabsorption. Typically, many older people have difficulty digesting complex proteins, and are on restricted diets. They find spirulina’s protein is very easy to digest.

Spirulina is effective for victims of malnutrition diseases like kwashiorkor, where the ability of intestinal absorption has been damaged. Given to malnourished children, it is more effective than milk powders because milk’s lactic acid can be difficult to absorb.

Vitamins – protectors of health

Spirulina contains the following vitamins:

  • Natural beta carotene (provitamin A)
  • Vitamin B complex

A 10 gram spirulina serving supplies a rich profile of vitamins we need (20 tablets, or 1/3 ounce).

Natural beta carotene (provitamin A)

Spirulina is the richest food in beta carotene, 10 times more concentrated than carrots. 10 grams provide a remarkable 23,000 IU (14mg) of beta carotene, 460% of the U.S Daily Value (DV) of Vitamin A. High doses of Vitamin A may be toxic, but beta carotene in spirulina and vegetables are safe, because human bodies convert beta carotene to Vitamin A  ONLY WHEN NEEDED.

Vitamin A is important in maintaining mucous membranes and pigments necessary for vision. Vitamin A deficiency is one of the most serious malnutrition diseases in the developing world, leading to blindness.

Beta carotene has therapeutic effects, including reducing serum cholesterol and ever present cancer risks. Over the past 12 years, cancer health authorities have published dozens of studies showing beta carotene reduces the risks of all kinds of cancers, including lung, throat, stomach, colon, gastrointestinal tract, breast and cervix.

Although beta carotene is best known, spirulina contains an antioxidant rich complex of at least10 carotenoids. These mixed carotenes and xanthophylls function at different sites in the body and minerals and phytonutrients in Spirulina. This is more effective than an isolated,synthetic beta carotene supplement.

Vitamin B complex

Spirulina is the richest source of B-12, higher than beef liver, chlorella or sea vegetables. B-12 is necessary for development of red blood cells, especially in the bone marrow and nervous system. Primary B-12 deficiencies, anemia and nerve degeneration, are getting more common in modern societies, because B-12 is the most difficult vitamin to get from plant sources, vegetarians have taken to spirulina.

3 B vitamins—B6, B12, and folic acid—help prevent heart disease. The newest independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease is excess levels of homocysteine—not cholesterol. Contrary to popular belief, cholesterol does not cause heart disease. It is merely one of the many markers of the disease. In fact, it’s quite possible to have a heart attack even if you have “normal” cholesterol levels.

Scientists have discovered that vitamins B6, B9 and B12 can dramatically lower homocysteine levels and reduce cardiovascular disease.

Methylation Cycle: With B6, 9 and 12 supply, Homocysteine will be converted to other beneficial elements in the body

Homocysteine is converted to Glutathione and MTHFR enzyme

But according to research, there’s a definite possibility you’ll have a heart attack if you have high levels of homocysteine. What is it? Homocysteine is an amino acid derivative that’s naturally found in your body. Too much of it can generate free radicals that increase injury to arterial walls, accelerate oxidation and the buildup of cholesterol in blood vessels, and set the stage for arterial and venous diseases, including stroke.

One tablespoon provides significant quantities of:

B1 (Thiamin): 23% DV required for nerve tissues

B2 (Riboflavin): 23% DV needed to gain energy from carbohydrates and proteins

B3 (Niacin): 7% DV needed for healthy tissue cells.

Other B vitamins, B6, biotin, panthothenic acid, folic acid, inositol and Vitamin E are also present in smaller amounts.

Naturally colloidal minerals

Algae absorbs many trace elements while growing and these minerals are well assimilated by the human body. Its mineral content varies depending on where it is grown and the minerals in the water.

Iron is the most common mineral deficiency worldwide, especially for women, children and older people. Women on weight loss diets typically do not get enough iron, and can becomeanemic. Iron is essential for strong red blood cells and healthy immune system. Spirulina is a rich iron food, 10 times higher than common iron foods. 10 grams supply up to 10mg of iron, 55% of the Recommended Daily Value.

The chlorophyll density of this micro-algae is excellent at cleansing the liver, nervous system and blood of unwanted toxins.

The presents of the two amino acids cysteine and methionine help in this process of purification.

The chlorophyll in spirulina is incredibly similar to the hemoglobin in the body. It is excellent for anemia and helps to build the blood.

The presence of the blue polypeptide, phycocyanin provides the blood with a richer supply of oxygen, helping it to cleanse more efficiently.It also forms soluble complexes with iron and other minerals during digestion making iron more bio-available. Hence, iron in spirulina is over twice as absorbable as the form of iron found in vegetables and most meats.

Essential Fatty Acids

Human require a dietary source of essential fatty acids (EFA). They promote cholesterol normalization and are precursors for hormones, called prostaglandins. Spirulina has 4-7% lipids, or fats, and most of these are EFAs. 10 grams have 225mg of EFA in the form of linoleic (Omega-6) and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). The DV for an adult is a minimum EFA intake of 1% of total calories. 10 grams provide 8-14% DV, depending on sex and age group.

GLA is the precuror to the body’s prostaglandins – master hormones that control many functions. Dietary saturated fats and alcohol can cause in GLA deficiency and suppressed prostaglandin formation. Studies show GLA deficiency figures in many diseases and many health problems, so a food source of GLA can be important.

The only other known sources of dietary GLA are mother’s ilk and oil extracts of evening primrose, black currant and borage seeds. Spirulina is a concentrated source of GLA, and a 10 gram serving has 135mg.

Phytonutrients

Spirulina contains Phytonutrients as well:

  • Phycocyanin
  • Chlorophyll
  • Carotenoids
  • Polysaccharides
  • Enzymes

Pigments help synthesize many enzymes necessary for regulating the body’s metabolism. Spirulina’s very dark color comes from the natural pigments which harvest different wave lenghs of sunlight.

Phycocyanin

It is the most important pigment in Spirulina, this protein complex is about 14% of the entire weight. A Japanese patent states a small dosage of phycocyanin daily maintains or accelerates normal control cell functions that prevents generation of malignancy such as cancer or inhibits its growth or recurrence.

Chinese scientists documented phycocyanin stimulates hematopoesis (creation of blood), emulating the hormone erythropoetin (EPO). EPO is produced by healthy kidneys and regulates bone marrow stem cell production of red blood cells. Their research showed that phycocyanin regulates white blood cell production, even when the bone marrow stem cells are damaged by toxic chemicals or radiation.

Chlorophyll

The common feature of green foods is their high chlorophyll content. Chlorophyll is known as a cleansing and detoxifying phytonnutrient. Sometimes called ‘green blood’ because it looks like the hemoglobin molecule in human blood. Chlorophyll has a magnesium at its core, giving it a green color, and hemoglobin has iron, giving it a red color. Spirulina’s beneficial effect on anemia could be bio-available iron.

Carotenoids

About half of these yellow/orange pigments in spirulina are carotenes: Alpha, Beta and Gamma. About half are xanthophylls: Myxoxanthophyll, Zeaxanthin, Cryptoxanthin, Echinenone, Fucoxanthin, Violaxanthin and Astaxanthin. Total mixed carotenoids make up 0.37% of spirulina. Although beta carotene is the best known, this mixed carotenoid complex functions at different sites in the body and works synergistically to enhance antioxidant protection.

Polysaccharides

Spirulina contains only 15-25% carbohydrate and sugar. The primary forms of carbohydrates are rhamnose and glycogen, two polysaccharides which are easily absorbed by the body with minimum insulin intervention. Spirulina offers quick energy, without taxing the pancreas or precipitating hypoglycemia.

The polysaccharides structure in spirulina is somewhat different from the ones found in Ganocelium (GL). However, working together with Ganocelium, the polysaccharides chain complement each other to form a very strong barrier on cell membranes, especially preventing from viral penetration to the cell that causes infections.

Enzymes

Enzymes are catalysts for chemical changes. There are thousands of enzymes, each catalyzing specific reactions. Dried spirulina contains a number of enzymes. One is Superoxide Dismutase (SOD), important in quenching free radicals in retarding aging.

Nice green natural Spirulina alga in water

This just looks like some nice green alga in the sea. Now I know that this is Spirulina, a precious nutrient-source in natural environment. Photo source: Lara Torvi, Flickr

 

The summarized health benefits of Spirulina:

  • Assists in growth and development.
  • Strengthens the immune system and eliminate virus infections.
  • Improves red blood cells life span. Indirectly level up the oxygen in our body.
  • Enables the body to produce new supply of red blood cells.
  • Act as a blood cleanser.
  • Balances cholesterol level.
  • Reduces the risks of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Improves ovarian functions.
  • Reduces pre-mentstrual syndrome.
  • Improves gastrointestinal and digestive health.
  • Enhances natural cleansing and detoxification.
  • Natural weight control.
  • Better antioxidant protection hence reducing cancer risk.
  • Relieves depression symptoms.

Me and my dogs eat some DXN Spirulina every day to make up for the lack of nutrients in our diets.

This blog is the re-edit of my writing from my old website with the date of 2014. June 30. Its title was Spirulina: Mother Nature’s Molecular Miracle. I used the resources of DXN company’s Ganotherapist, who is my upline sponsor in business.