Health benefits of spirulina proteins and antioxidants

Spirulina is the natural product obtained by drying two blue green algae belonging to Phylum cyanobacteria and genus Arthrospira. These two food supplement grade, protein and antioxidant rich, species A. maxima and a. platensis are commonly called as spirulina and impart many health benefits. They are microscopic, filamentous and free floating and naturally occur in tropical and subtropical water bodies. The individual algal cells contain gas vacuoles which make them float to the surface of the water body getting better sunlight exposure. They thrive well in high pH and high water alkalinity wherein other forms of blue green algae do not survive. This characteristic helps in raising monocultures of these two species of spirulina.

Spirulina is cultured throughout the world to get dietary protein supplement for human and animal use. Commercially it is grown in special culture tanks with proper nutrients to get a slurry of this algae. The medium for growing these algae consists of water, sodium bicarbonate, nitrates, sulfates, phosphates, and trace minerals. This spirulina concentrate is then filtered to get a paste which is then spray dried, processed and made into tablets or powder and packed for use.

spirulina protein has all the essential amino acids.
Spirulina tablets

Nutritional health benefits

Spirulina is rich in proteins which make up to 60 to 70% of dry weight. Spirulina also contains up to 20% carbohydrates, 5% lipids and 10% minerals. Spirulina also contains essential amino and fatty acids. It is a good source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Health benefits of rich proteins

Apart from being rich in proteins and antioxidants, it is a complete protein containing all the essential amino acids and is comparable to the proteins in milk, egg and meat. However amino acids lysine, cysteine and methionine are present in slightly reduced proportions in the protein complex. Nevertheless it is better than other legume proteins.

Health benefits from essential fatty acids, minerals and vitamins

Spirulina is rich in gamma-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid required in human nutrition. Spirulina contains B vitamins like B1, B2, B3, B6, B9 and B12. It also contains vitamin C, vitamin D and vitamin E. Beta-carotene is abundant in it and is pro vitamin A. It is the only plant source of vitamin B12 having considerable amounts of this vitamin. Spirulina contains potassium in good proportion. It also contains, chromium, calcium, iron, copper, manganese, magnesium, selenium, zinc, sodium and phosphorus.

Antioxidant health benefits

Spirulina contains a variety of phytopigments and nutrients containing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Spirulina abounds in Beta-carotene with all mixed carotenoids, half of them being yellow xanthophylls and half being orange carotene. These beta carotenes protect our body from free radicals, working against them as antioxidants.

Anti-aging benefits

As spirulina has easily digestible and concentrated nutrients loaded with antioxidants, it is the best anti-aging food. The antioxidant nutrients in it neutralize free radicals and certain hormones responsible for aging. Beta carotene present in these algae is very good for vision and give health benefits to the eyes. As it reduces the dependence on animal products for proteins the incidental consumption of fats comes down. The problems connected with aging like arthritis and heart ailments get reduced by foregoing animal products and eating the spirulina proteins.

Allergy and Immunity

The anti-inflammatory chemical, interferon production is boosted by the intake of spirulina proteins. It is believed that these spirulina algae decrease the allergy response by blocking the histamine release from mast cells. Its protein extract increases the activity of bone marrow cells, the production of red blood cells, T-cells and macrophages and boosts the immune system. Spirulina also helps in blocking the viral cells from entering the host cells. Further, recent studies have shown that spirulina extract stops viral cells from replicating.


The immunity enhancing factors and the antioxidants present in the spirulina proteins impart anti-cancer effects. Its extract also promotes release of tumor necrosis factor alpha, a chemical capable of attacking the tumor cells and fighting against cancer.

Health benefits for heart

Daily consumption of spirulina has been found to lower cholesterol. It is further discovered that high density cholesterol was increased and low density cholesterol was reduced. The consumption of spirulina benefits the heart by improving the function of heart arteries and lowers the blood pressure.
Spirulina is being used with success in poor countries for improving the condition of malnourished children.


Keywords: spirulina, antioxidants, health, benefits, proteins

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Mahmood Syed Faheem

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Spirulina proteins and antioxidants - Health benefits

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