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Is Spirulina Healthy or Harmful?

Is Spirulina Healthy or Harmful?

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.

 

About Jesse James

Jesse James is a rock climber, holistic nutritionist, technology pioneer, writer, and philosopher.

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