Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that has a high nutritional value and is believed to have many health benefits including boosting the immune system.

What are its health benefits?

Spirulina is a microalgae that grows naturally in oceans and salty lakes in subtropical climates – it is also now grown in laboratories.

Punted as a “superfood”, spirulina contains significant amounts of amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), vitamins, minerals and carotenoids (antioxidants that protect cells from damage from free radicals). These include calcium, B vitamins, betacarotene, vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, copper, iron, zinc, selenium and the essential fatty acid gamma linoleic acid (GLA).

Reportedly, spirulina may have the following benefits but more research is needed:

  • Promotes the healthy functioning of the immune system
  • Provides more energy
  • Promotes the body’s natural cleansing process
  • Speeds up recovery after illness
  • For weight loss
  • Helps protect against allergic reactions
  • Helps maintain healthy skin, hair and nails
  • Treating precancerous mouth lesions

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA)

Available in pill, powder form and as flakes, a typical spirulina dosage for adults is approximately four to six tablets (500mg each) per day. However, first consult your Clicks pharmacist or your doctor to determine the correct dosage for you.

When it comes to supplementation for children, first speak to your Clicks pharmacist or your doctor about the correct dosage.

Not enough is known about the effects of spirulina on women during pregnancy or breastfeeding, so rather don’t take it.

Know the overdose risks
Even in high doses, spirulina appears safe. However, ensure you buy a reputable brand (Clicks stocks only highly-purified spirulina) as it can be contaminated with other toxic substances and harmful bacteria.

Contaminated spirulina can cause these side effects:

  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Thirst
  • Weakness
  • A rapid heartbeat
  • Liver damage

If you suffer from the following medical conditions, steer clear of using it:

Ensure you discuss dietary supplementation first with your Clicks pharmacist to avoid the potential for side effects and adverse interactions with medications. For example, if you’re taking the blood-thinning medication warfarin, you shouldn’t take spirulina.

The accuracy of this information was checked and approved by Clicks' pharmacist Waheed Abdurahman in February 2015