Spirulina: Nutritional Composition
Have you heard of spirulina? It's a supplement that can be very beneficial, but its use should always be supervised by a professional.
You still don’t know about spirulina? The food supplement that’s so popular? In this article, we’ll tell you what it’s made of and the benefits that its consumption entails for your health. In a way and with proper use, it can be a resource to avoid nutritional deficiencies.
Origin and description of spirulina
Although it sounds unthinkable, the discovery of this element occurred several centuries ago. It was called “Tcuitlatl” or “Dihe” by the ancient Aztec civilization. Moreover, it’s what we know today as a revolutionary food option: spirulina.
At present, there are differences regarding its terminology. We sometimes call it cyanobacteria and other times green-blue algae. In any case, we can take spirulina orally, both in the edible natural product and in its adaptation in tablets or in shake powder.
What does this food source contain that’s taken it to the top sales of healthy supplements? One of its most important virtues has to do with the complementation in sports and nutrition; as well as with the possible supportive treatment in diseases such as obesity or high blood pressure.
Nutritional composition of spirulina
Even though these numbers vary slightly depending on the brand that supplies the food supplement, up next, we’ll point out the amounts of each element per 100 grams of spirulina:
- Calories: 290 (0.90 Kilocalories).
- Total fats: 8 grams.
- Carbohydrates: 24 grams.
- Protein: 57 grams.
- Fiber: 3.6 grams.
- Salt: 1.9 grams.
- Grams remaining: vitamins and minerals.
Detailed nutritional information
In the next section, we’ll breakdown some of its most important components and also their consequent physiological benefits.
Our body can’t make most vitamins. Therefore, we need an external contribution to the correct amounts. The vitamin cocktail that spirulina provides is the following:
- B1 (thiamine): it has an important role in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Besides that, it regulates the central nervous system.
- B2 (riboflavin): essential for proper eye health and skin hydration. Its deficiency in our daily nutrition can cause oral and pharyngeal problems.
- B3 (niacin): participates in the synthesis of some hormones and is also essential in growth stages.
- B5 (pantothenic acid): a key factor for the proper health of hair follicles – hair – and even controls acne.
- B6 (pyridoxine): acts to regulate mood through neurotransmitters in the brain.
- B8 (biotin): relieves muscle pain and helps reduce insomnia.
- B9 (folic acid): essential in pregnant women to ensure the correct formation of the fetus.
Besides the ones cited here, it also has beta-carotene, vitamin E, vitamin K, and inositol.
Minerals regulate functions in our body. Additionally, they contribute, to the metabolism of macronutrients, which are vastly present in spirulina. The most prominent in this supplement are the following:
- Phosphorus: it’s responsible for the conservation and repair of tissues and also acts in the metabolism of cells such as sperm.
- Iron: boosts the production of red blood cells. Its deficit can cause anemia.
- Magnesium: lacking it in the body can cause physical fatigue and even involuntary muscle contractions.
- Calcium: aids in the construction and maintenance of bones and teeth.
- Potassium: regulates cell balance and muscle activity.
- Zinc: indirectly increases blood testosterone.
- Sodium: it has a fundamental role in the transmission of nerve impulses; in muscles, for example.
- Manganese: as it executes its function, it favors the immune system.
Essential amino acids
They’re indispensable compounds in the structural functions of the body, such as the repair and maintenance of body tissues. Amino acids are the components that are most present in spirulina.
- Leucine: causes an increase in muscular resistance to work with external loads. For example, strength exercises in the gym.
- Phenylalanine: known as a natural antidepressant.
- Isoleucine: helps repair and maintain muscle tissue.
- Lysine: in addition to regulating cholesterol, it has a fundamental role in muscle growth.
- Tryptophan: there’s evidence of its anxiolytic effect on the human brain.
- Histidine: contributes to the strengthening of networks immersed in the nervous system.
Beyond all that, spirulina also includes nonessential amino acids; such as alanine, arginine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine, and tyrosine.
Fatty acids are an important source of energy. Hence, every healthy body must have adequate levels of these components.
- Linolenic acid: may help prevent certain types of cancer, in addition to regulating blood pressure.
- Linoleic acid: lowers saturated body fat levels and has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Oleic acid improves defenses through lymphocyte activation.
Final thoughts about spirulina
In conclusion, it’s convenient to point out that we need more and better scientific studies to prove the benefits of spirulina consumption to face certain diseases. Today, there isn’t enough evidence to demonstrate with a solidity that it’s useful for the direct treatment of pathologies or ailments.
Nonetheless, the nutritional power that spirulina provides for supporting a nutrient-rich diet is clearly known. Consequently, deficiencies in daily food consumption can be avoided, which leads to proper body functions and better sports performance.