by Shauna Burton

Commercials for the cereal Total always impressed me as they showed how many bowls of the competition's cereal it took to get the same vitamins and minerals as one bowl of Total. Well, Nature has a thing or two to teach Total. Nature's “Total” can be found in blue-green algae or Spirulina.

If we compare the naturally occurring nutrients of Spirulina to those of mass-produced genetically-modified cereals of today, Spirulina puts man-made cereals to shame. Ounce for ounce, Spirulina has three times the protein of soy, 58 times the iron of spinach, 26 times the vitamin b12 of beefliver, and is the richest known source of betacarotene. I am not a Spirulina salesperson, but this algae is a great secret to know about if you are contemplating adding a supplement to your diet. Spirulina is also particularly good for vegetarians or for people contemplating vegetarianism because it is packed with all the nutritious properties that people think they would lack if they eliminated meat from their diet.

Spirulina is an algae grown in water and gains its nutrients from the sun. The life force of Spirulina is chlorophyll. Chlorophyll absorbs the sun's nutrients which powers the plant's life. When humans ingest chlorophyll, it enriches and oxygenates the blood. It is often called "green blood" because this form of chorophyll is almost identical to human blood, except that its center is magnesium instead of iron. When chlorophyll is consumed, our bodies can replace the magnesium with iron, thus strengthening our own blood supply. Chlorophyll has also been shown to heighten the efficiency of all the organs and tissues of the body.

Chlorophyll isn't the only important component. Spirulina is 70% protein - a complete protein containing all essential amino acids. Studies have shown that people transitioning from omnivorous diets to vegetarianism or veganism can benefit from the protein in Spirulina to ease the change (though it's not necessary).

The vitamins and minerals in Spirulina are also worth mentioning. Vitamin B12, a rarity in the vegetable kingdom, is plentiful in and easily derived from blue-green algae. Beta-carotene (vitamin A), vitamin E, B1, B2, B6, folic acid, biotin, choline, pantothenic acid, are also contained in spirulina. The largest concentrations are vitamin A and E.

The minerals found in Spirulina are boron, cobalt, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, calcium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, and zinc, the largest concentrations being iron and magnesium. It also contains DNA and RNA, both increase cell turnover and slow aging. Essential fatty acids (EFA's) which reduce the cholesterol in the blood, comprise Spirulina's cell walls. EFAs are a vital part of our diet because the body can not manufacture them on it's own.

In Japan, Spirulina has been used therapeutically for people who have diabetes and liver problems, fatigue, anemia, pancreatitis and many other diseases. Dr. Robert Marion, an expert in the field of nutritional medicine, says that there are only benefits to consuming Spirulina, no drawbacks. In his 30 years of experience, he has seen such benefits in his patients as shinier hair, glowing complexion, and an increased vitality. The standard dosage is 10 grams. For people who have health problems it is recommended that they double this amount.

Footnotes: 

Warning: Do not stop any treatment or medication you currently use. Consult with your doctor before starting the use of supplements.