15 Spirulina Benefits (plus How to Take It & Side Effects)

Updated in December 2023

Spirulina benefits include the ability to prevent heart conditions like a heart attack, atherosclerosis and heart failure, and treating conditions like diabetes and allergic rhinitis. It can also be beneficial for gaining muscle mass. 

Spirulina is a microgreen that can also be used as a food supplement. It is an excellent source of protein, minerals, B-complex vitamins, iron and antioxidants, like phycocyanin and gallic acid. 

This super-food is sold in its dehydrated form in pills, capsules or powder. It can be purchased at natural health food stores or online. The recommended dose depends on the objective looking to be achieved. 

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Health benefits

Spirulina can be taken for many reasons, such as: 

1. Boosting mood

Because it is a great source of proteins, spirulina can provide the body with great amounts of energy. This supergreen also as a prebiotic effect, which strengthens the good bacteria in the gut. When intestinal flora is balanced, there is a greater production of vitamin B6, which contributes directly to energy levels and mood. 

Spirulina is also rich in magnesium, making it a great contributor to the synthesis of the hormones that promote wellbeing. 

2. Preventing and treating anemia 

Spirulina is a source of iron, which is a mineral that is fundamental for the production of hemoglobin (a component of red blood cells). Eating this super-green can increase hemoglobin levels, aiding in the treatment of anemia. 

3. Decreasing "bad" cholesterol and triglycerides 

Phycocyanin is the main antioxidant that is present in spirulina. It inhibits the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines, decreasing fat levels in the blood. 

Furthermore, other antioxidants in spirulina, like betacarotene and gallic acid, can contribute to the reduction of total cholesterol, "bad" cholesterol (LDL) and triglyceride levels in the blood. This can prevent diseases like heart attack, atherosclerosis and heart attack. 

Learn more about cholesterol and its normal ranges in the blood. 

4. Combating high blood pressure

Spirulina is able to promote the production of nitric oxide, which works to relax blood vessels. This may lead to a decrease in blood pressure. It is important to use spirulina as indicated by a doctor to prevent significant drops in blood pressure, as this can lead to negative health effects. 

Check out other natural remedies for high blood pressure that you can use to compliment the medical management of hypertension. 

5. Regulating blood sugar

Spirulina contains antioxidants and polysaturated fats in its composition. This can promote the reduction of blood sugar levels, which can help to prevent diabetes and stabilize fluctuating sugar levels. 

In addition, due to its composition, spirulina can also increase insulin sensitivity, which can help to rapidly decrease the amount of circulating glucose. There are also teas for blood sugar that you can take to help keep levels under control when used with your medical prescription.

6. Promoting muscle mass gains

In addition to being a source of amino acids that help to maintain and develop muscles, spirulina also contains linolenic acid. This is a polysaturated fat that improves strength and resistance, which are necessary for workouts targeted at muscle gains. 

Spirulina is also a source of antioxidants which promote the recovery muscles post-exercise, which is fundamental for muscle growth. 

Read about other muscle-building foods that you can add to your diet to see muscle gains. 

7. Relieving symptoms of allergic rhinitis

This supplement contains anti-inflammatory and immuno-stimulating activities, which can improve antibody functions. It can be used as a natural compliment to the treatment of the symptoms of allergic rhinitis, like nasal congestion, sneezing and itching. 

8. Helping with weight loss

Spirulina is a source of proteins and is high in fiber. These qualities can help to keep you fuller for longer and reduce your overall food intake.

In addition, this microgreen is low in calories and contains great amounts of linolenic acid, which is an antioxidant that plays an important role in metabolism and fat burning.

See other weight loss teas that you can use to include in your weight loss diet. 

9. Preventing early aging

Spirulina is rich in antioxidants like vitamin A and C, which help to decrease cellular damage caused by free radicals and consequently prevents early cellular aging. These compounds contribute to skin health and prevent flacidity and the formation of wrinkles.

10. Reducing inflammation

Because it contains fatty acids, like omega-3, spirulina can act like an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory when consumed. Therefore, it may be useful for the treatment of arthritis, as it can reduce joint inflammation and relieve other symptoms. There are also other anti-inflammatory foods that you can eat to reduce systemic inflammation. 

11. Detoxing the body 

Spirulina contains antioxidants with a hepatoprotective effect. This factor prevents cellular damage in the liver and protects it from toxins. Spirulina also has the ability to reduce fat accumulated in the liver, and has an antiviral effect against the herpes simplex virus and hepatitis C. 

12. Preventing cancer

Due to its antioxidant effects and the micronutrients present in its compositions (like zinc and selenium), spirulina is also able to prevent the development of cancer. This supplement can decrease oxidative stress and prevent damage caused by free radicals.

Learn about detox drinks you can prepare at home to naturally protect and cleanse your liver. 

13. Preventing neurodegenerative diseases

Spirulina possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that active glial cells, a type of glial cells. This effects can help to prevent and/or prevent the progression of neurodegenerative disease, particularly Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis. Spirulina can also help to improve memory and learning, especially in older adults.  

14. Strengthening the immune system

Spirulina helps to activate immune cells because of the linolenic acid, phycocyanin and other antioxidant compounds in its compounds. These help to regulate immune system responses in the presence of microorganisms. 

Some studies indicate that consuming spirulina may be beneficial to those infected with HIV. It helps to improve immunity, as it has been shown to stimulate the dominant immune system cells, T CDA+, which are responsible for combating the virus. 

15. Maintaining eye health

Due to the presence of zeaxanthin in its composition (a type or carotenoid), spirulina helps to prevent retinal damage and prevent changes to vision.

This carotenoid is beneficial for the prevention and progression of macular degeneration, an illness associated with aging and one of the main causes of aging in adults over 65 years old. 

How to take

Spirulina is available in powder form, pills and capsules. It can be taken with water or added to other foods, like juices, sauces, fruits or salads. 

In general, patients are advised to take 1 to 8 g per day (1000 mg to 8000 mg per day), which can vary depending on the treatment goal. Spirulina should be ingested as directed by a doctor or registered dietitian. It can be taken as a single dose or spread out throughout the day.

Possible side effects

Taking the recommended doses of spirulina can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea in some people. 

Although allergic reactions to this supplement are rare, it is important to monitor for symptoms like skin redness, itching, abdominal pain or more severe symptoms, like difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing and tongue swelling. These symptoms should be assessed at a hospital immediately. 

Contraindications for use

Spirulina should not be consumed by patients with phenylketonuria, or by those with high levels of phenylalanine or any other abnormality related to this amino acid. 

In addition, it should not be used during pregnancy, breastfeeding or in children or adolescents, as there are not enough studies available yet to prove spirulina use in these populations. 

Can spirulina be taken by people with hypothyroidism? 

At this moment, there is no evidence to suggest that spirulina will interfere with levothyroxine, which is a medication to treat hypothyroidism. Nor is there evidence to suggest that it can worsen this condition. However, supplementing with spirulina is not confirmed to be 100%, therefore you should speak with your doctor or registered dietitian before taking spirulina.