What is spirulina? Spirulina is a blue algae that grows in the waters of African and Mexican salt lakes and in some freshwater lakes.

What is spirulina used for?

It seems that spirulina was already used as a food by the Aztecs. Today, sold in the form of tablets, powders, flakes or added to processed foods, it is used as a source of vitamin B12 and proteins of non-animal origin. The benefits attributed to it are numerous: prevention of cancer, treatment of infections, fight against allergies (for example hay fever), protection of the liver, help to improve cholesterol levels in the blood, promotion of weight loss and many more.

Some scientific studies suggest that this blue algae could increase the production of immune system cells involved in fighting infections and that it could help fight some chronic diseases, but there is no evidence that EFSA (the European Food Safety Authority) has approved any claim that justifies these or other proposals for the use of products containing spirulina.

Warnings and possible contraindications

In reality, the form of vitamin B12 present in spirulina does not appear to be easily absorbable by the human body. Furthermore, despite being rich in proteins, spirulina supplements taken in the doses recommended and considered safe are unable to satisfy the body’s needs; from this point of view, legumes, dried fruit and cereals appear to be better and less expensive sources of vegetable proteins. It is important to ensure that spirulina is not contaminated with microcystins or anatoxins, toxic substances that can trigger adverse effects such as stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, liver damage, weakness, thirst, rapid heartbeat, shock and, in more severe cases, death. It is also good to remember that spirulina can absorb heavy metals. For this reason it is best to buy only safe products. Taking spirulina may be contraindicated in case of gout, autoimmune diseases, kidney stones, pregnancy or breastfeeding and should be avoided in case of phenylketonuria.

Disclaimer: the information provided represents general indications and in no way replaces medical advice. To ensure a healthy and balanced diet, it is always best to rely on the advice of your doctor or a nutrition expert.