Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Spirulina—a great all-around supplement

Although this drink looks yummy, I prefer to take the tablets.
If you are looking for a great all-around supplement to take, spirulina would be a good choice. Spirulina is sometimes called “the perfect food.” It contains amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and high levels of vitamin A. This vitamin A is in the form of beta carotene from a food source, therefore allowing the high IU content to be safe.

The following is taken from a handout I picked up at a natural foods grocery store many years ago. I could not find a source for this piece and hope that its author will be pleased with its inclusion here.

Spirulina: Diet and Energy Aid

Spirulina is considered by many to be an amazing diet and energy aid and is a source of concentrated nutrients that has been used for centuries. The ancient Aztecs thrived on spirulina from Lake Texcoco in Mexico, and for the people who live around the Lake in Chad, Africa, spirulina has been a mainstay in their diet for generations.

Spirulina is a water-grown, 100% vegetable plankton. It is a blue-green algae that grows in fresh water lakes in Africa and Central America. Spirulina has been found safe by the Food and Drug Administration and is now available in health food stores.

Spirulina is an incredible source of concentrated nutrients. It is 65% protein, making it the world’s highest known source of protein. Raw meat is only 27% protein, and even soybeans are only 34% protein. The protein in spirulina contains all eight essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Spirulina is the world’s highest known source of B-12, with high concentrations of vitamins A, B-1, B-2, B-6, D, E, H, and K. In addition, spirulina also provides all necessary minerals, trace elements, cell salts, and digestive enzymes. The list does not end here, however, because spirulina also offers an abundance of chlorophyll, ferrodoxins, and other pigments.

One of the most amazing functions of spirulina is its ability to help people lose weight while providing them with nutrition at the same time. Spirulina strikes at the very heart of the problem that plagues all dieters—excessive hunger itself! Usually, as a result of an improper or imbalanced diet, the body is not sufficiently nourished and is constantly giving out signals, which we know as hunger pangs or cravings. This is the point at which spirulina steps in. It can satisfy these hunger pangs by offering the body complete nutrition. The protein in spirulina is much easier to digest than other proteins and as a result, spirulina is absorbed very quickly. This quick absorption in turn signals the body that it has all the nutrients it needs, and thus stops the hunger-pang signals.

Spirulina helps keep blood sugar at normal levels. Since a certain area of the brain will react to low blood sugar levels, setting up hunger pangs, a normal blood sugar level is important for losing weight as well as for general health. Spirulina contains phenylalanine, an amino acid, which some researchers believe acts directly on the appetite center of the brain.

Another advantage of spirulina is that you can adjust dosage to suit your body’s individual needs. One program initially suggests the dosage of three 500mg tablets, 1/2 hour before meals. If this dosage succeeds in keeping hunger away, you can try reducing the dosage to two tablets or even one tablet. If hunger persists, however, the dosage can be increased. You can take as many as six to eight tablets before each meal. Naturally the use of spirulina is invaluable in modified fasting, but before engaging in any type of fasting, consult your physician.

Along with spirulina’s fantastic weight loss effects, it is also able to provide quick and long-lasting bursts of energy. The source of this energy is a starch found in spirulina that is identical to the glycogen used as a carbohydrate storage product in the human liver and muscle cells. As soon as spirulina is consumed, its glycogen content becomes almost immediately available to human metabolism and provides a fast energy boost that lasts.

This fast energy burst is very advantageous to physically active people. If you are involved in an energetic pursuit such as marathon running or swimming, spirulina can give you the extra energy needed to complete the activity without relying on sugar or other products normally used to achieve this result. Spirulina also helps the athlete avoid the use of bulk foods or juice that would slow down the system instead of moving it more efficiently. The dosage suggested for energy bursts is from 3 to 6 tablets of spirulina.

As you have read, you can’t go wrong with spirulina. When I first started taking this supplement, one of my regular facial clients started complaining about feeling lethargic and never having enough energy to get through the day. She didn’t need to lose weight, but did need an energy boost, so I recommended she experiment with spirulina. She started with 2-3 500mg tablets, 2-3 times per day. The next time I saw her, only one month later, she was amazed at how much energy these little tablets had given her. She didn’t go through her normal roller coaster of energy during the day; the spirulina had stabilized her blood sugar and increased her energy level significantly.

I definitely feel an increase in energy throughout the day from this supplement. But it’s not a rush or a buzz like some herbal supplements or ephedrine products tend to produce. The energy that I feel is steady and strong and doesn’t make me feel nervous or jittery at all. That is because when taking spirulina, I am supplying my body with complete nutrition; it gets all of the essential amino acids that make up a complete protein. I tend toward hypoglycemia and found spirulina helps to keep my blood sugar levels at an even keel.

I like to take spirulina with me whenever I travel. Whether in a car, plane, or boat, spirulina gives me access to actual food; something that may not be readily available during certain stages of a trip. It’s an asset on a camping trip, which is somewhere you usually need as much energy as you can find.

When you go to the health food store, you’ll see many different companies who sell spirulina. I personally purchase the Whole Foods brand, knowing it is probably just as good as any other. You can decide for yourself which brand you will buy.

Spirulina does come in a powder that you mix with water. I have tried this and find the tablets infinitely easier. The powder is difficult to completely dissolve in water, making this mixture lumpy. And due to the somewhat algae-like taste, for me this was nearly impossible to get down. The tablets are essentially compressed spirulina powder.

Spirulina is a perfect supplement for vegetarians. For obvious reasons, vegetarians are challenged to get enough protein in their diet every day. What could be better than this complete vegetable product that is also a complete protein? I highly recommend any vegetarians consider taking spirulina on a daily basis. Protein is essential to balanced health as well as providing the body with energy and the capacity to heal itself.

For information on other helpful supplements, see:
Balance in all things