Spirulina is a dietary supplement derived from sea algae that is valued for its incredibly high vitamin, mineral, and protein content, as well as its powerful antioxidant effects.
Because of the “superpower” properties, it is found in many superfood green drinks.
It’s been studied for use in fighting cancer, allergies, high cholesterol, and for fighting inflammation. It’s even been used by NASA as a nutrient-rich source of sustenance for astronauts on space flights.
It creates energy from sunlight using photosynthesis, just like plants do, so it offers many of the same health benefits as leafy green vegetables.
Our researchers have evaluated and ranked the best spirulina supplements on the market, ranking them according to quality.
1. Viva Naturals Spirulina Powder
For those seeking a high dosage of spirulina, tablets aren’t going to cut it. The powder-based spirulina supplement from Viva Naturals is grown in the United States, and the powder is independently tested for purity.
Add to this the fact that you can calibrate your dosage as low or as high as you’d like, and you’ve got all the makings of a top pick.
2. Nested Naturals Super Algae
Nested Naturals packages spirulina alongside chlorella, another algae, for extra antioxidant and heavy metal scavenging properties.
This spirulina supplement is ideally suited for people looking to take advantage of the detoxifying abilities of spirulina and chlorella; thanks to their ability to bind with heavy metals like lead and mercury, this is a popular choice for detox regimens.
3. BulkSupplements Pure Spirulina
For massive spirulina doses, there’s no other way to go than BulkSupplements. With 1000 grams of spirulina per bag, and no ingredients aside from spirulina, if you take large doses of spirulina every day, this should be your choice.
Other spirulina supplements have a leg up when it comes to organic sourcing, so it’s not our top pick, but for bulk users it’s still a winner.
4. Pure Hawaiian Spirulina
Each tablet of this spirulina supplement contains half a gram of pure spirulina, derived from a special farm in Kona, Hawaii.
This promises better purity control than supplements sourced elsewhere, and the nutrient content of this spirulina is excellent. Silica is the only binder or filler in the capsule, and it’s made from vegetarian-friendly cellulose, making this a very solid choice.
5. Perfect Aquatic Greens
This powder-based spirulina and chlorella supplement is certified organic and provides a 50/50 mix of each, by weight.
The supplements are solid, but unfortunately the total dosage contained in a tub is barely half of what’s in many of the other powder-based spirulina supplements on the market. Still, for a powder-based algae supplement, this is the best choice if you want chlorella as well as spirulina.
6. Now Spirulina
Now Foods makes a pretty solid spirulina supplement whose sole ingredient is certified organic spirulina.
The manufacturer gets around the problem of a capsule for delivery by pressing the powder firmly into dry tablets that provide one gram of spirulina each. While it’d be nice if the source of the spirulina was disclosed, the fact that it’s organic is a good sign.
7. LuRoot Spirulina
LuRoot is pretty boilerplate when it comes to spirulina supplements: half a gram of spirulina, delivered in a vegetable cellulose capsule.
The low dosage and lack of sourcing information, or other perks like an organic certification, knock it downward in the rankings compared to the competition.
8. Nature Bound Spirulina
Nature Bound Spirulina is another fairly basic spirulina supplement that provides a lower dosage (half a gram per tablet) and uses high-pressure machining to press the powder into a tablet.
Without an organic source, or more details on purity, this spirulina supplement doesn’t really distinguish itself in a meaningful way from the competition.
9. Natural Nutraceuticals 100% Organic Spirulina
This supplement provides an American-sourced, certified organic spirulina supplement. Each tablet is a half-gram pressed powder, meaning there are no other ingredients aside from spirulina.
The downside is that the intense pressure from the tablet pressing process might slow or hamper the absorption of the spirulina, and it would be better if the dosage was higher.
10. Pure Healthland Super Spirulina
This capsule-based spirulina supplement has a fairly low dosage and isn’t stellar when it comes to providing info on the sourcing of the spirulina that goes into the supplement.
At only half a gram per capsule, it’s outclassed by many competitors.
Spirulina benefits and side effects
An organism that grows in fresh or salt water, spirulina contains such an assortment of beneficial substances; it may well be the most nutritious food on the planet.
Also known as blue-green algae, spirulina may seem an unlikely superfood since it’s technically a type of bacteria, but in the same manner as plants, it uses the process of photosynthesis to manufacture energy.
Aztecs knew the power of spirulina, and it has recently become the focus of attention as a potential source of nutrition for astronauts since it can be grown in space. (1)
It can be purchased in both powder and tablet form, and usual dosages range from 1 to 3 grams, but as much as 10 grams daily has been proven effective in studies exploring spirulina’s health effects.
One tablespoon of dried spirulina delivers 4 grams of protein with only 20 calories; it also provides respectable amounts of many vital nutrients. (2)
Here’s what you can expect from supplementing 7 grams of spirulina daily: 21% RDA for copper, 15% RDA for vitamin B2, 11% RDA for both iron and vitamin B1, 4% RDA for vitamin B3.
It also includes smaller amounts of potassium and magnesium, as well as other nutrients necessary for maintaining the human body
The protein in spirulina is considered comparable to that found in eggs, containing all the essential amino acids; the low amounts of fat will provide some omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in a ratio of 1.5 to 1.
Let’s look at the range of health benefits you may realize if you include spirulina in your diet.
Improvements in Vital Blood Markers
Nearly 800,000 Americans died of heart disease in 2011, and it ranks as the number one cause of death worldwide. (5)
Several blood markers associated with heart disease can improve dramatically with the supplementation of spirulina.
Both LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and blood triglyceride counts drop when spirulina is added to the diet, and HDL cholesterol levels go up, effectively reducing the chances of developing heart disease.
A study of test participants with high cholesterol who took a gram of spirulina daily found LDL cholesterol levels fell by just over 10%, while blood triglycerides decreased by more than 16%. (6)
Lipid peroxidation, which is an indication of oxidative damage to the body’s fatty structures, can raise the risk of developing serious diseases.
A small study with 37 patients suffering from type 2 diabetes noted lower levels of oxidative damage as well as higher levels of antioxidants in the blood from the addition of 8 grams of spirulina daily. (12)
Another risk factor for heart disease is hypertension (high blood pressure); and spirulina may be useful in decreasing blood pressure through bumping up production of nitric oxide. This molecule acts in the signaling process that allows blood vessels to dilate and relax. (13)
While lower dosages aren’t effective, 4.5 grams of spirulina daily lowered readings in people who had normal blood pressure. (14)
Preventive Capacities of Spirulina
Besides dropping the risk of developing heart disease, the use of spirulina may also help prevent other serious health issues, including cancer. (15)
The generous amounts of antioxidants found in spirulina can reduce the damage done by free radicals in the body; inflammatory responses are also positively impacted, which has beneficial effects on risk factors for chronic diseases. (16)
Phycocyannin is the main active ingredient in spirulina that acts as an antioxidant; it also imparts the distinctive blue-green color to the substance. (17)
Animal studies indicate spirulina can cut the chances of developing cancerous tumors, as well as inhibiting growth. (18)
More human studies have been done with oral cancer than other types. When researchers tracked the response of patients with precancerous lesions in the mouth, results were impressive.
Nearly half the subjects taking a gram of spirulina daily for a year experienced complete regressions, while the control group rate (no treatment) was significantly lower at 7%. (19)
When spirulina treatment stopped, nearly 50% of the participants whose lesions had disappeared began to develop them again.
In another study, researchers compared the effects of spirulina with the pharmaceutical drug pentosyfillene in treating oral lesions such as those described above; a gram of spirulina a day resulted in greater improvements than using the drug. (20)
Other Health Benefits
Spirulina has been tested for its effectiveness in several other areas, including the treatment of allergic rhinitis, or the inflammation of nasal passages.
This condition can be triggered by environmental conditions such as exposure to animal hair, pollens, or substances that can differ between individuals.
One study with more than a hundred subjects suffering from allergic rhinitis found taking 2 grams of spirulina daily eased symptoms, including nasal congestion and discharge, as well as itching and sneezing. (21)
Anemia may be improved by spirulina supplements. There are several different types of anemia, one of the most common types often affects elderly patients.
The lower level of red blood cells in the body characteristic of anemia can lead to general fatigue and overall weakness. (22)
When anemic patients supplemented with spirulina, red blood cell counts rose; their immune systems also grew stronger. (23)
Athletes may find taking spirulina improves performance through reducing oxidative damage in muscle tissue.
Another study conducted with college athletes showed that muscle strength was significantly enhanced by adding spirulina, but endurance wasn’t affected. (26)
Spirulina also shows promise as a detoxification strategy for patients suffering from high concentrations of heavy metal in the body. When subjects with arsenic poisoning were give spirulina supplements, levels of arsenic dropped dramatically.
In one small human trial following 25 patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, results appeared promising; on a two-gram daily dose of spirulina, subjects experienced substantial drops in blood sugar. (29)
We hear a lot about “superfoods” and how they can make positive contributions to health; while many contenders may not deserve the status, spirulina is truly a nutritional star.
It’s readily available and reasonably priced, making it simple and easy to add to your health program.
Spirulina is a water plant loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals; it is effective in lowering cholesterol, preventing oxidative damage, discouraging the growth of cancerous lesions, and may prove to be helpful in managing a range of other health conditions.