What are the vitamins in spirulina

Spirulina - a lot of green and little behind it

What is Spirulina?

Spirulina platensis (more correctly: Arthrospira platensis) is a cyanobacteria (formerly "blue algae") that inhabits shallow, subtropical to tropical waters with a high salinity, especially in Central America, Southeast Asia, Africa and Australia. It has been used as food by the people who live in these waters since ancient times. The use as a source of protein, iron and vitamin A, for example in India or Burkina Faso, is undisputed according to the WHO. However, there is no shortage of this in Germany.

Today spirulina is produced commercially in aquaculture. They are obtained by filtering or centrifuging and then hot air or freeze-dried.

Unlike microalgae like Chlorella, spirulina has no cellulose walls. This means that all ingredients are more bioavailable than with yeast and other single-cell algae. According to the Federal Food Code, 100 g of dried spirulina provides around 60 g of protein, 19.8 mg of iron and 3.6 mg of beta-carotene and 1820 µg of folate.

According to the Max Rubner Institute, around 80% of the vitamin B12 contained in spirulina is in a form that cannot be used by humans, so it is of no help to vegans. The same possibly also applies to a large part of the beta-carotene, since spirulina showed practically no influence on the serum level in a study.

Can there be problems with pollutants?

Since the production of microalgae and spirulina is often an open system, a mix can occur: Spirulina can be contaminated with algae (e.g. green algae) and other cyanobacteria, but also with intestinal bacteria (entry via bird droppings). As a typical natural product, it can also contain microorganisms (e.g. water fleas). In the event of contamination with other cyanobacteria, exposure to liver-toxic microcystins, as known from so-called AFA algae, is possible. In the meantime, however, spirulina are also offered from closed systems, but not as often as chlorella algae.

In previous investigations, heavy metal loads (lead, cadmium and mercury) from contaminated breeding water were found. According to EFSA, increased exposure to inorganic arsenic is possible through increased consumption of algae-containing food.

In the last few years there have been regular reports in the European rapid warning system RASFF about excessive amounts of carcinogenic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) in Spirulina, presumably due to contamination as a result of improper drying. Therefore, since 2015 there have been maximum PAH values ​​for food supplements with spirulina (VO (EU) 2015/1933).

Again and again, products from Asia in particular attract attention due to impermissible radioactive radiation.



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