Spirulina Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 03/03/22 •  6 min read
spirulina benefits and side effects

HEALTH

Energy: spirulina benefits include control blood sugar levels, improve muscle strength and endurance, reduce anemia in older adults, treat allergic rhinitis characterized by inflammation in nasal passageways

Longevity: spirulina benefits include detoxification, fight and prevent cancer, lower blood pressure, lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, protect cells and tissues from damage, raise HDL (good) cholesterol, reduce inflammation as well as reducing the risk of heart disease

Appearance: spirulina benefits include weight loss

Spirulina is…

ENVIRONMENT

Water footprint: unknown

Carbon footprint: low, 0.0 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of aquatic plants, a car driving equivalent of .0 miles or .0 kilometers

Destruction: low, spirulina production is relatively sustainable, there is no significant damage to air, water, land, soil, forests, etc. as long as there are no pesticides, buy Non-GMO/organic, as toxic, chemical pesticides contaminate air, water, soil, etc.

Spirulina is…

ANIMALS

Kills: none, spirulina production does not require any animals to die

Harms: none, spirulina production does not require any animals

Indirectly kills or harms: none, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as pesticides harm and kill wildlife and ecosystems by contaminating soil, water, air and plants that animals eat

Spirulina is…

LABORERS

Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always accessible

Living conditions: varies, laborers exploitation is common, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation

Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits

Spirulina…

Where does most spirulina come from?

Most of the world’s spirulina in the world grows in inner Mongolia. But regarding spirulina in the United States, spirulina is often from Hawaii and California.

Is spirulina nutritious?

Yes! Spirulina contains significant amounts of calcium, niacin, potassium as well as magnesium, B vitamins, iron and has essential amino acids

spirulina is gluten free.

glutinous foods have side effects but a gluten free diet can help

Is spirulina gluten free? Yes, spirulina is gluten free. Spirulina does not contain gluten. Spirulina is a type of algae, therefore making it a naturally gluten free food. 

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include instances such as:

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

spirulina is not a common food allergen.

side effects of common food allergens like milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Is spirulina a common food allergen? No, spirulina is not a common food allergen. Some people may experience allergic reactions to spirulina but it is relatively rare by comparison.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods, AKA the Big-8, include:

These foods account for about 90% of all food allergies in the United States.

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

spirulina is sustainable.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Overall, is spirulina eco friendly and sustainable?

Spirulina production is relatively sustainable since there is no known significant damage to air, water, land, soil, forests, etc. Be sure to buy non GMO/organic, as toxic, chemical pesticides contaminate air, water, soil, etc. when using regenerative practices.

A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.

Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly. It’s also one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.

Additionally, a 2010 United Nations report said that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world the worst impacts of climate change.

spirulina is vegan.

seafood and fish is not vegan

Is spirulina vegan? Yes, spirulina is vegan. Spirulina is an algae and not an animal product or byproduct, therefore making it a vegan food. 

Go vegan for animals! It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non Vegan Foods List

spirulina is a product that may or may not have labor issues.

benefits of buying fair trade, labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Is spirulina a product with labor concerns?

At this time there are no major concerns with spirulina production but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening! It’s important to stay aware of human rights concerns that may come with specific brands.

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? But the labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Sadly, many labor concerns exist around the world in both developed and developing countries. We must be vigilant to ensure what we buy is not contributing to industries that are unfair to their valuable workers. Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even experience harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. However, workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. Fair trade organizations also fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

Furthermore, we can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade. 

Sources:

FoodData Central, spirulina powder

Spirulina is an effective dietary source of zeaxanthin to humans

Adriane Marie

Grocery Guru, Material Maven, Conscious Consumer Connoisseur. I organize ethical info for us to comprehensively see how purchases impact people, animals and the planet. I hope you find HEALabel helpful! Use it for personal and global improvement and empowerment.