To Top

Super Algae

Spirulina—you know, that gooey green stuff you see folks blending at natural food stores—may actually be good for you. Personally, I find the look of it as appealing as a “Biggest Loser” contestant in a thong. If you can stomach it, though, it might just be something to try.

Basically, spirulina is algae and has been used as a food source for centuries. It can lower blood pressure and cholesterol, decrease muscle damage from exercise and enhance muscle protein synthesis. Yep, the green gooey stuff is muscle friendly, even if it isn’t palate friendly.

In one study, Spirulina maxima taken as a supplement—4.5 grams per day for six weeks—by 16 men and 20 women between the ages of 18 and 65 had a hypolipemic effect, meaning it lowered blood lipids. In this case it especially lowered triglycerides and low-density-liproprotein cholesterol. It reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure,1 and it modified total cholesterol and high-density-lipoprotein-cholesterol values.2

Spirulina may even help diabetics. Two-month supplementation resulted in lower fasting and postprandial blood glucose. A significant reduction in the form of hemoglobin that shows how much blood glucose is in the body was also observed—and that’s a great thing.

Triglycerides were significantly lowered. Total and low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol decreased, and high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol increased. As a result, a significant reduction in the risk factors for heart disease was observed. Spirulina supplementation helps control blood glucose and improves the lipid profile of subjects with type 2 diabetes mellitus.3

What happens when you give spirulina to people who exercise? Sixteen students volunteered to take Spirulina platensis in addition to their normal diet for three weeks. Blood samples were taken after they finished the Bruce incremental treadmill exercise—basically increasing the amount of work done on a treadmill until you can no longer stay on the darn thing—before and after supplementation. Plasma concentrations of malondialdehyde, a compound that’s an index of oxidative stress, were significantly decreased after supplementation with spirulina. The activity of blood superoxide dismutase, an antioxidant compound, was significantly raised with spirulina as well. In addition, the lactate concentration was higher, and the time to exhaustion was significantly extended. Taking the algae had a protective effect on skeletal muscle damage, and that probably led to postponement of exhaustion during the all-out exercise.4

With its high concentration of functional nutrients, spirulina is a supplement worth considering. It’s a great source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Its health benefits, plus its potential muscle-enhancing effects, make it an attractive addition to your supplement arsenal.

Editor’s note: Jose Antonio, Ph.D., is the CEO of the International Society of Sports Nutrition ( and is a sports science consultant to VPX/Redline.


1 Torres-Duran, P.V., et al. (2007). Antihyperlipemic and antihypertensive effects of Spirulina maxima in an open sample of Mexican population: A preliminary report. Lipids Health Dis. 6:33.

2 Juarez-Oropeza, M.A., et al. (2009). Effects of dietary spirulina on vascular reactivity. J Med Food. 12(1):15-20.

3 Parikh, P., Mani, U., and Iyer, U. (2001). Role of spirulina in the control of glycemia and lipidemia in type 2 diabetes mellitus. J Med Food. 4(4):193-199.

4 Lu, H.K., et al. (2006). Preventive effects of Spirulina platensis on skeletal muscle damage under exercise-induced oxidative stress. Eur J Appl Physiol. 98(2):220-226.

Instantized Creatine- Gains In Bulk

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in Nutrition