Spirulina health benefit

What is spirulina and does it have any health benefits?

Spirulina is a blue-green alga that grows in freshwater and saltwater. Additionally, in some cultures, spirulina has been added to food for its believed health benefits for centuries. Nowadays, it’s commonly found in health stores as a supplement in capsules, tablets, and powder forms. Furthermore, over recent years, spirulina has gained ‘superfood’ status. However, the question remains: are Spirulina’s health benefits, including helping with diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression, backed by evidence? In this article, we take a look at some of the spirulina’s popular health claims.

What makes spirulina special?

You might have heard that spirulina is rich in protein; however, did you know that protein makes up 60% of its content? The protein levels in spirulina are higher than in most vegetables.

Spirulina is also packed with nutrients, including:

  • an antioxidant called beta-carotene
  • vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
  • vitamin B3 (niacin)
  • copper
  • iron
  • magnesium
  • an essential fatty acid called gamma-linolenic acid

What are Spirulina’s health benefits?

Though more research is needed to back up these findings, spirulina might help with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression.

High cholesterol

Eating too much fatty food, particularly saturated fat, can cause high cholesterol, thereby increasing the risk of heart disease. However, some studies show promising results, suggesting that the protein found in spirulina may effectively lower cholesterol levels and contribute to improved heart health.

Know about Fatty Liver Disease and its prevention
High blood pressure (hypertension)

A few studies suggest that taking spirulina may help lower blood pressure in those with high blood pressure. That’s because taking spirulina leads to an increase in nitric oxide in the body, which relaxes blood vessels and reduces blood pressure


The protein found in spirulina is also believed to help reduce the type of fat (triglycerides) that can harden the arteries and raise diabetes risk.

Depression and anxiety

Although there are claims that spirulina can be effective in treating depression and anxiety, there’s not enough scientific evidence to conclude this for sure.

Other conditions

A small number of studies suggest spirulina may help with malnutrition, maintaining a healthy immune system, and helping to relieve symptoms of allergies to pollen, animal hair, and dust

How much spirulina should you take?

Due to a lack of good evidence on how much spirulina you should take to experience possible benefits, it’s best to always read the supplement label and follow the dosing instructions carefully

Does spirulina have any side effects?

Side effects from taking spirulina are generally mild but can include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • discomfort in your tummy
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • dizziness

Is spirulina safe for everyone to use?

Spirulina can grow under controlled conditions or in nature. When spirulina grows in a natural environment, there’s a higher risk it can be contaminated with harmful bacteria and heavy metals. It’s important to use spirulina supplements that have been tested and are free of contaminants.

Speak to your doctor before taking spirulina if:

  • you’re taking immunosuppressant medication or medication for diabetes or blood clotting (spirulina can interfere with these medications)
  • you’re pregnant or breastfeeding
  • you have an autoimmune disease like multiple sclerosis, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Spirulina is not recommended for use by children.

Key points

  • spirulina is a blue-green alga that’s been used as a food supplement for centuries
  • it’s high in protein and is a good source of nutrients, minerals, and vitamins
  • some evidence suggests spirulina might help treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, depression, and anxiety
  • speak to your doctor before taking spirulina if you’re on certain types of medication
  • children and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding shouldn’t take spirulina

Author: Ana Mosciuk

4 references
By the way, doctor: Is spirulina good for you? – Harvard Health [Internet]. Harvard Health. 2019 [cited 2 February 2021]. Available here
Blue-Green Algae: MedlinePlus Supplements [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2 February 2021]. Available here
Spirulina: Are There Health Benefits? [Internet]. WebMD. 2020 [cited 2 February 2021]. Available here
Facts about fat – NHS [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2 February 2021]. Available here

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