Algae can be regarded as the first photosynthetic life-form. Three-and-a-half billion years ago, blue-green microalgae, called cyanobacteria, created our atmosphere of oxygen, enabling other life to evolve. Since then, they have helped to regulate our planet's biosphere. This microalgae Spirulina has a spiral cellular structure, which is similar to that of a simple prokaryote. This alga has an extraordinary capacity to survive under conditions that are much too harsh for other algae. Habitats with extensive Spirulina growth include the Pacific Ocean near Japan and Hawaii, large fresh water lakes, including Lake Chad in Africa, Klamath Lake of North America, Lake Texcoco in Mexico, and Lake Titikaka in South America.1

The blue-green microalgae Spirulina has been an important source of protein in the traditional diet of natives of Africa and Mexico. The species of Spirulina that are most commonly used in nutritional supplements are Spirulina platensis (S. platensis) and Spirulina maxima (S. maxima). It has been sold as commercial products in many countries, such as Japan and Taiwan, for use as a healthy functional food and for therapeutic purposes.2 This tiny aquatic plant, Spirulina, contains large amounts of all-vegetable protein (70% dry weight),3 carotenoid (4000 mg/kg),4 omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (such as rare essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid), sulfolipids, glycolipids, polysaccharides, provitamins; other nutrients such as vitamin A,5 vitamin E,6 various B vitamins; and minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, zinc,1 and selenium.7 It is also a rich and inexpensive source of such pigments as phycocyanin (Pc), an accessory photosynthetic pigment of the phycobiliprotein family. Phycocyanin is commonly utilized in the food industry as a food colorant,8 an emulsifier, a thickening agent, and a gelling agent. It can also be used in cosmetics colorants9 and fluorescent markers in biomedical research.10 Various investigations have verified that various components of Spirulina, including phycocyanin, selenium, carotenoids, and fatty acid y-linolenic acid (GLA) have significant antioxidant and radical scavenging characteristics.11-14 It is, therefore, a potential therapeutic agent for treating oxidative stress-induced diseases, inflammations, allergies or even cancer.13 This chapter summarizes recent findings concerning the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immunoenhancing, antiviral, anticancer, and hepatoprotection properties of Spirulina, with reference to the potential advantages of Spirulina as a regular nutritious supplement in the prevention of various disorders that are associated with oxidative stress, inflammation, cancer, and liver-malfunctioning diseases.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Supplements For Diabetics

Supplements For Diabetics

All you need is a proper diet of fresh fruits and vegetables and get plenty of exercise and you'll be fine. Ever heard those words from your doctor? If that's all heshe recommends then you're missing out an important ingredient for health that he's not telling you. Fact is that you can adhere to the strictest diet, watch everything you eat and get the exercise of amarathon runner and still come down with diabetic complications. Diet, exercise and standard drug treatments simply aren't enough to help keep your diabetes under control.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment