Spirulina supplements are a highly-concentrated natural food derived from dehydrated blue-green algae commonly found in lakes and ponds. This nutrient, often called a superfood for its high nutritional and medicinal value, is generally safe for children and adults. The supplements typically come in capsule, tablet, tincture or powder form. Spirulina supplements have been used to treat or mitigate conditions such as glaucoma, premature aging, liver problems, and diabetes, among many others. Spirulina is also said to be a cancer inhibitor, body detoxifier, and an antimicrobial agent.
One benefit of the spirulina dietary supplement is how it can fit into a busy lifestyle. Spirulina can easily be added to food or smoothies, or pills may be swallowed by mouth. The ability to add it to food and smoothies also makes spirulina easy to slip into children’s diets unnoticed.
Spirulina may enhance the immune system by increasing the production of T-cells and bone marrow cells. Some studies suggest it also may help in the treatment of viruses such as measles, mumps, herpes and influenza, but this hasn't been proven. Spirulina may also help reduce cholesterol levels and blood pressure as well as assist with weight loss programs—some reports suggest taking a large teaspoon of spirulina powder about an hour before a meal can help with appetite suppression.
There are several spirulina supplement brands available in stores and online for basic nutrition or targeted needs. Some have been formulated to protect the body from the damaging effects of free radicals by adding antioxidants and carotenoids. There are also organic spirulina supplements on the market that are grown and harvested with no pesticides or herbicides. Some formulations target people with serious allergies by removing ingredients such as corn, dairy, soy, egg and gluten.
Spirulina is a naturally low-fat source of vegetable protein, which can be important to those looking to increase their protein intake without adding other food sources or calories. Because of this, spirulina has been widely used by vegetarians. Spirulina supplements are mostly well-rounded by naturally offering high concentrations of such nutrients as iron, many B vitamins, phycocyanin, and phytonutrients such as chlorophyll, which is a plant substance very similar to human blood cells. Spirulina also contains important healthful acids, including the nucleic acids RNA and DNA, nine essential amino acids, linoleic and arachidonic acids, as well as gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is an essential polyunsaturated fatty acid also found in primrose oil.