General Practice 2022

Spirulina: what é, what it is for and how to take it

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Spirulina: what é, what it is for and how to take it
Spirulina: what é, what it is for and how to take it

Spirulina or spirulina is a microalgae that can be used as a food supplement, as it is an excellent source of protein, minerals, B vitamins, iron and antioxidants such as phycocyanin and gallic acid.

Among the he alth benefits of spirulina, we highlight the prevention of heart diseases such as heart attack, atherosclerosis and stroke. In addition, microalgae also helps in the treatment of diabetes, allergic rhinitis and muscle mass gain.

Spirulina is a superfood sold in dehydrated form in tablets, capsules or powder and can be found in he alth food and supplement stores. The recommended dose and form of ingestion varies according to the purpose of use of the supplement.See more about what they are and other types of superfoods.

Spirulina's main indications for he alth include:

1. Improve mood

As a great source of protein, spirulina provides good amounts of energy for the body. In addition, microalgae has a prebiotic effect, strengthening the good bacteria in the gut. With a balanced intestinal flora, there is a greater production of vitamin B6 which directly contributes to increased energy and disposition. Learn about other he alth benefits of vitamin B6.

2. Aid in the treatment of anemia

Spirulina is a source of iron, a mineral essential for the production of hemoglobin, a component of red blood cells. Thus, the ingestion of microalgae can increase the levels of hemoglobin in the blood, helping to treat anemia.

Intake of 6 pills with 500 mg of spirulina each, divided throughout the day, for 12 weeks, can increase hemoglobin production and improve anemia [1]. However, the use and quantity of spirulina must be guided by a doctor or nutritionist.

3. Decrease “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides

Phycocyanin, the main antioxidant present in spirulina, inhibits the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine, decreasing blood fat levels.

In addition, other antioxidants present in spirulina, such as beta-carotene and gallic acid, also contribute to the reduction of total cholesterol levels, “bad” cholesterol, LDL, and blood triglycerides, preventing diseases such as heart attack, atherosclerosis and stroke.

Supplementing with 4g of spirulina per day for 6 weeks can help lower triglycerides, total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, in addition to increasing the “good” HDL cholesterol in the blood. [2] However, it is important to remember that the use of spirulina must be guided by a doctor or nutritionist.

4. Preventing and treating diabetes

Spirulina has antioxidants and polyunsaturated fats in its composition, promoting the reduction of blood sugar levels, helping to prevent diabetes and control glucose levels in those who have the disease. See other foods that help prevent diabetes.

Studies [2], [3] showed that taking 2g of spirulina for 21 days to 2 months helped to reduce blood glucose levels, helping to prevent and treat diabetes.

5. Promote muscle mass gain

In addition to being a source of amino acids that help in the maintenance and development of muscle, spirulina also contains γ-linolenic acid, a polyunsaturated fat that improves endurance and strength, necessary for training focused on gaining muscle mass.

Spirulina is also a source of antioxidants that help in the recovery of muscle fibers after physical activity, being essential for muscle growth.

Studies [4], [5] indicated that supplementation of 6 to 7.5 g of spirulina for 4 weeks, prevents the loss of muscle mass, improves performance during physical activity and reduces physical fatigue after exercise.

6. Relieve symptoms of allergic rhinitis

Because it has anti-inflammatory and immune-stimulating activities, improving antibody function, spirulina can be used as a complementary natural treatment to relieve the symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Studies [6], [7] have shown that taking 2g of spirulina between 3 and 6 months can decrease the symptoms of allergic rhinitis such as, runny nose, sneezing, stuffy and itchy nose.

7. Help with weight loss

Spirulina is a source of protein, in addition to having good amounts of fiber that increase digestion time, promoting satiety and helping to reduce food consumption.

In addition, this microalgae is low in calories and still has good amounts of γ-linolenic acid, an antioxidant that plays an important role in metabolism and reduction of body fat. Understand better how spirulina can help you lose weight.

See with our nutritionist how spirulina can help with weight loss diets:

How to take spirulina

Spirulina is available in powder, tablet and capsule form, and can be taken with a little water or added to foods such as juices, sauces, fruits or salads.

In general, the use of 1 to 10 g per day is recommended, varying according to the treatment objective. Spirulina should be ingested following the guidance of a doctor or nutritionist, and can be consumed in a single dose or divided throughout the day.

Possible side effects

Ingesting recommended amounts of spirulina may cause nausea, vomiting or diarrhea in some people. Although allergic reactions are rare, it's important to watch out for symptoms such as redness and itching of the skin, abdominal pain, or more serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing or swallowing or swelling of the tongue, and you should seek emergency care.

Who should not take it

Due to the lack of studies on the safety of use during pregnancy and breastfeeding, spirulina should be avoided in these situations. Likewise, this microalgae should not be ingested by children and those with phenylketonuria.

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