Spirulina - nutritional profile

Amino acids 
Spirulina contains between 50 and 70% protein in a highly digestible form, this is 2x higher than soya and 3x higher than meat or fish.   
Spirulina is considered as a complete protein source, because it provides all of the 9 essential amino acids: Histidine, Isoleucine,  Leucine,  Lysine,  Methionine,  Phenylalanine,  Threonine, Tryptophan  and  Valin.  Essential  amino  acids cannot be synthesized by the body. 
Spirulina also provides 9 out of 12 non essential amino acids. Alanine, Arginine, Aspartic acid, Cysteine, Glutamic acid, Glycine, Proline, Serine and Tyrosine. 

Polysaccharides  
Spirulina contains 10-15 % carbohydrates, primarily polysaccharides, easily absorbed by human cells with minimal intervention of insulin. Hence, Spirulina sugars provide quickly energy, while minimizing the risk of hypoglycemia. Spirulina  contains  specific  sulfated polysaccharides,  such  as  calcium  spirulan  (Ca-SP),  with  powerful  antioxidant, antitumor and antiviral properties. Calcium spirulan, composed of rhamnose, ribose, mannose, fructose, galactose, xylose, glucose, glucuronic acid, galacturonic acid, sulfate, and calcium, was found to inhibit the replication of several enveloped  viruses,  including  Herpes  simplex  virus  type  1,  human  cytomegalovirus,  measles virus,  mumps  virus, influenza A virus, and HIV-1.

Essential fatty-acids 
Spirulina is made of only 7 % lipid, most of it in form of essential fatty acids.  Spirulina is particularly rich in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), it is the second richest source of this nutrient after maternal milk. GLA has showed positive effects on cardiovascular protection (lowering total cholesterol and LDL, raising HDL cholesterol), atopic dermatitis, immune system (increasing lymphocytes), rheumatoid arthritis and 
possibly cancer treatment. Spirulina also contains sulfolipids, a class of lipids which possess a sulfur-containing functional group. Spirulina 
sulfolipids, such as sulphoquinovosyl diacylglycerol (SQDG) have proved to be effective against HIV. Preparations obtained from Spirulina biomass have also been found active against herpesvirus, cytomegalovirus and influenza virus. 

Minerals

Spirulina contains essential minerals and trace  elements  absorbed from its growth medium into  chelated, easily absorbed forms:  

  • Potassium : A crucial mineral that regulates body electrolyte balance. Deficiency can cause heart arrest, hypertension,  adrenal exhaustion and muscular collapse.  

  • Calcium : The most abundant mineral in the body, it is especially important to bone and dental health, but is  also  involved  in  neural transmissions to the muscles. Spirulina supplies about as much calcium, gram for gram, as milk.  

  • Zinc : The pivot point of over thirty vital enzymatic reactions,  with  profound  effects  on  mental  health, skin tone, prostate function and healing capacity.  

  • Magnesium : Deficiency  can  lead to spasmodic muscle disorders, including cardiac irregularities. Helps assimilation of vitamin  C,  B vitamins and protein.  

  • Manganese : Activates enzyme systems, along with zinc.  Promotes  activity  of  neurotransmitter acetylcholine, and helps stabilize blood sugar.  

  • Selenium : Originally believed to be a toxic heavy metal, but now known to be necessary for health. It prevents premature aging,  harmful oxidation and free radical formation, reduces the toxic effect of  carcinogens, and improves cardiac efficiency.  

  • Iron : Promotes formation of haemoglobin,  the oxygen-carrying blood pigment found in healthy red blood cells. Iron deficiency is most common among women in their reproductive years.  

  • Phosphorus : The second most abundant mineral in the human body, it is found in practically every cell. Functions  with  calcium  to  maintain  bone  density. Helps  to  digest  carbohydrates  and  the  B  vitamins niacin and riboflavin. 

Vitamins  
Spirulina supplies several of the vitamins that we  need to carry on metabolic processes:  

  • Provitamin A (beta-carotene) : one gram of Spirulina covers 46 % the daily requirements in vitamin A for an  adult  (see  also  below under  “carotenoids”). Provitamin A is antioxidant and essential to eyesight. It protects the skin and the eyes from UV and prevent skin aging. The level of beta-carotene in spirulina is 10x higher than in carrots.  

  • Vitamin B1 : for optimal functioning of our muscular and nervous system.  

  • Vitamin B2 : needed for energy production.  

  • Vitamin B3 : helps reducing cholesterol.  

  • Vitamin B12 : Spirulina is the only non-animal source of vitamin B12. Its concentration is 4x higher than raw liver.  One  gram  of Spirulina  covers  33  %  the  daily requirements.  Vitamin  B12  fights  anaemia.  It  is important  for  red  blood  cell  creation and development. Spirulina  is  therefore  highly recommended for vegetarian people.  

  • Vitamin  E  :  has  a  positive  effect  on  the  cholesterol level and prevents cardiovascular diseases.  

  • Vitamin K : Increases calcium fixation, softens artery and increases blood coagulation.  

  • Spirulina also provides the following vitamins : B5, B6, B7, B8, B9, and D. 

Carotenoids 
Carotenoids are organic pigments. They are used as precursors by our body to synthesize the appropriate vitamins.  A good example is provitamin A (beta-carotene), a precursor of vitamin A. The advantage of beta-carotene is that it is converted by our body into vitamin A only when needed, thus minimizing the dangers of toxicity linked with an overdose of vitamin A (difficult to eliminate). 

Enzymatic pigments  
Spirulina  is  also  rich  in  pigments  that  are  bio-chemically  important.  Without  theses  pigments,  our organism would not be able to synthesize many of the enzymes necessary for the balance of our metabolism. 

  • Chlorophyll: This pigment gives the green colour to spirulina.  It  helps  human  body  to  eliminate  toxic heavy metals (mercury, arsenic, lead)  

  • Phycocyanin:  This  pigment  gives  its  blue  colour  to spirulina. It stimulates the immune system, and has antioxidant  as  well  as anti-inflammatory  effects. Spirulina is the only source of phycocyanin in the world

  • Porphyrin:  a  red  compound  that  forms  the  active nucleus of hemoglobin. 

Enzymes 
Besides enzymatic pigments, Spirulina contains many other enzymes. It is particularly rich in superoxide dismutase (SOD), a powerful antioxidant.