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What is spirulina and where is it found?

Spirulina is a cyanobacterium, which is a blue green algae. It is high in protein, B vitamins, and iron. It also contains copper, manganese, potassium, and magnesium. Further, spirulina contains a powerful antioxidant called phyocyanin. Spirulina is used as both a supplement and whole food and comes in different forms, such as powder, flakes, and tablets.

What are the benefits?

Spirulina is used to treat hay fever, diabetes, blood pressure, ADHD, hyperlipidemia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Additionally, many people take it to help with weight loss and enhance exercise performance. Others take it for its anticancer properties. It also helps eliminate arsenic from the body.

Are there interactions with food or medications?

Spirulina should not be taken with anticoagulant or antiplatelet supplements or meds since spirulina has been shown to inhibit platelet aggregation. It should also be avoided during immunosuppressant therapy since spirulina may stimulate the immune system.

Are there side effects?

As long as the algae is not contaminated, there can be a few side mild effects such as bloating, diarrhea, stomach upset, edema, and flatulence. Some spirulina may be contaminated with microcystis aeruginosa, which produce toxins that affect the liver and cause jaundice, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, weakness, shock and death. It is important to buy spirulina from a reputable source.

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