The dietary supplement spirulina is a cyanobacteria cultivated in tropical and sub-tropical lakes. Also known as blue-green algae, spirulina is considered a superfood because of the health benefits derived from taking it.
For vegetarians, spirulina can help solve typical deficiencies in the vegetarian diet: lack of complete protein, anemia or lack of iron, and low consumption of B vitamins.
Spirulina is rich in complete protein. This means spirulina contains all the essential amino acids the body requires. Complete proteins are not generally found in plant foods, so having the ability to consume them in one product can be especially beneficial for vegetarians who have trouble consuming enough of all the essential amino acids. Typically vegetarians must combine different sources of protein in order to get all the necessary amino acids, and some vegetarians may have trouble meeting their dietary needs. Spirulina can solve this problem.
The iron found in spirulina can be easily absorbed into the body and studies have shown it can be effectively used to assist people with anemia. One clinical trial involving undernourished children showed spirulina had a positive effect in reversing anemia. Because iron is more readily found in animal products, vegetarians may become anemic at some point in their lives. In fact, iron deficiency is the most common mineral deficiency in vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. Spirulina provides a good source of iron, and it's easily digested and absorbed into the body.
Vitamin B Complex
Some vegetarians take B vitamin supplements to ensure they get enough vitamin B-12 in their diet. The vitamin B complex, and in particular vitamin B-12, are important in cellular metabolism and for maintaining a healthy nervous system. Some studies have shown that vegetarians may not get enough B-12 in their diets. One theory as to why they may have low levels of vitamin B-12 is because increased fiber intake can lower the absorption of B-12. Thus, supplements may be used to increase vitamin B in the diet. Spirulina contains the full spectrum of B Vitamins and may replace the need for separate B complex supplements.
Taking 5 to 10 grams of spirulina per day can help vegetarians maintain optimum dietary health. Spirulina can address three areas of the vegetarian diet where supplements are typically needed. It provides a good source of complete protein, easily- digested iron, and the B vitamin complex.