Spirulina, a blue-green algae, is marketed as a ‘superfood’ by various health food gurus, but is it healthy or harmful?
It is a tricky subject because several highly-respected scientific studies have found dangerous levels of microcystin in spirulina supplements. Microcystin is a hepatoxin produced by many species of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae). Health food gurus claim spirulina – a type of blue-green algae – does not produce microcystins, yet scientists have found these toxins in commercial spirulina supplements. What is going on?
The answer is pretty simple; it is true that spirulina does NOT produce microcystins, but many other species of blue-green algae do. Since both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ types of blue-green algae grow in the same pond, cross-contamination occurs easily. Therefore, almost all spirulina is contaminated by microcystins. Case closed.
I have yet to find a reputable brand that sold ‘certified microcystin free’ spirulina. Barring such a certification, you can be quite sure that your spirulina supplement contains dangerous hepatoxins.
Worse, there are no proven scientific studies showing the often-claimed ‘amazing’ health benefits of blue-green algae. Most of those claims come from snake-oil health promoters rather than science.
The verdict: Avoid spirulina.