If you’ve done some reading up on Spirulina, you’ve seen plenty of articles (including on this site!) about the immense benefits the blue-green algae offers for our bodies. Named a preeminent “superfood,” the benefits truly are super, but how? How is it that our bodies use Spirulina and get the benefits of all of the nutrients it provides?
Most foods we eat have cell membranes that our bodies have to break down in order to get the goodness that the foods offer. It’s a normal step in the digestion process, but one that requires a little extra work and means that some of the nutrients typically get lost along the way. Spirulina, however, doesn’t have that cell membrane, so that step in the digestion process is completely passed over and our bodies can simply start digesting all of the nutrients faster, allowing more of them to enter our system more quickly. In other words, Spirulina’s easy digestibility means that its nutrients are more available to our bodies, thus granting it and its nutrients high bioavailability.
The bioavailability of nutrients does increase when ingested in conjunction with other complementary foods. At this point, though, the synergistic workings of Spirulina with other foods have not been studied widely enough to be able to point to optimal pairings for even greater bioavailability of the algae’s nutrients.
Nutrient-rich—beyond typical vitamins
However, even without other food pairings, Spirulina is very rich in nutrients on its own—some of which aren’t found in the average daily vitamin. Made up of 55-70 percent complete protein with all essential and non-essential amino acids, the microalgae is also full of calcium, potassium, magnesium, beta-carotene, the B vitamins thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin, plus iron, chlorophyll, phycocyanin, and nutrients like phosphorus and copper. Add to that – healthy lipids and linoleic and oleic fatty acids, which aid our bodies’ immune responses.
According to Healthline, Spirulina may just be the most nutritious food on the planet by weight. In fact, it’s been studied on numerous occasions for its use as an agent to fight malnutrition in malnourished and anemic children and malnourished HIV-positive adult women, with findings showing significantly positive results.
How does the body use Spirulina?
Spirulina is taken orally, typically in dried powder form or as tablets or capsules. However, it can also be ingested in raw, “living” form as the straight algae without further processing—which is how it was eaten dating back as far as the Aztecs. (Just make sure it’s uncontaminated…)
Once ingested, our body breaks down Spirulina and absorbs its nutrients, letting them go to work throughout our system. As mentioned above, because Spirulina does not have cell membranes to break down, the nutrient absorption process happens much efficiently, keeping more nutrients intact and able to be used readily.
With so many nutrients present and a composition ripe for prime bioavailability, Spirulina makes it easy for our bodies to get what they need and become healthier and healthier.