Spirulina is a food of high nutritional value. It contains a variety of bioactive nutrients such as high biological value protein, iron, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), beta-carotene, (provitamin A), vitamin B complex, vitamin E etc.
Spirulina is a prokaryotic organism consisted of united cells, which form helicoid fibers. The spiral shape gave rise to its name – Spirulina.
The characteristic blue-green color of spirulina is attributed to the natural colorants that it contains and more specifically to chlorophyll (green color) and phycocyanin (blue color).
In contrast to other plant cells, which contain a hard cellulosic wall, spirulina’s cell wall is formed by four numbered layers, from the inner most outward as: LI, LII, LIII and LIV. All these layers are very weak, except for layer LII which is made up of peptidoglycan, a substance responsible for the wall’s ridigity. The protein and lipopolysaccharide nature of the LII layer contributes to the easy human digestion of Spirulina.
The blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) are the first group of bacteria that evolved and could fix atmospheric carbon dioxide into organic carbon compounds using water as an electron donor and thereby evolving oxygen. We owe the present oxygen-rich environment partially to the millions of years of photosynthetic activity by Cyanaobacteria that made it possible for other oxygen dependent life forms to evolve. Indeed it is this same ability to fix carbon dioxide and produce organic matter that we are presently utilizing in the mass cultivation of these organisms for food.
In its commercial use, the common name, Spirulina, refers to the dried biomass of the cyanobacterium, Arthrospira platensis, and is a product of biological origin. In its taxonomic use, Spirulina is a name used to describe mainly two species of Cyanobacteria, A. platensis and A. maxima, which are commonly used as food, dietary supplement, and feed supplement.
It should be pointed out that the name Spirulina is used commonly as a name of commerce. As a matter of fact, studies of morphological, physiological, and biochemical examination of representatives of Spirulina and Arthrospira genera have shown that these two genera are distinctively different. However, this site will use the name Spirulina with the understanding that all the edible forms that are under commercial cultivation and sold as “Spirulina” actually belong to the Genus Arthrospira, and more specifically to the species Arthrospira Platensis.
nutritional value of spiroulina platensis
Spirulina is a 100% natural product which contains a variety of nutritional components, that makes it a balanced natural wholefood. It contains great amount of high biological value protein (55-70%) and a wide range of vitamins, metals, minerals and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Moreover, spirulina is rich in beta-carotene and vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin). More specifically, its content in vitamin B12, which is a vitamin mainly found in animal source food, makes spirulina an ideal source of vitamin B12 for vegetarians.
Beta-carotene, (provitamin A), vitamin B complex (B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, Pantothenic acid, Biotin, Folate), vitamin E.
Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, Iron, Manganese, Zinc, Magnesium, Copper, Chromium, Selenium.
Spirulina contains mainly polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as the essential fatty acids gamma-linolenic, alpha-linolenic and linoleic acid.
Essential Amino acids
Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophane, Valine
Non Essential Amino acids
Histidine, Alanine, Arginine, Aspartic acid, Cystine, Glutamic acid, Glycine, Proline, Serine, Tyrosine.
In the following table the nutritional profile of spirulina is presented
|COMPOSITION||Per 100g||Per 3g|
|Basic Nutritional Components|
|Total Fat (g)||3.8||0.114|
|Saturated Fats (g)||1.03||0.031|
|Polyunsaturated Fats (g)||2.4||0.072|
|Monounsaturated Fats (g)||0.22||0.007|
|Dietary Fiber (g)||6.9||0.207|
|Provitamin A (beta-carotene) (mg)||60.1||1.80 (*37.5%**)|
|Vitamin Β1 (Thiamin HCl) (mg)||5.3||0.16 (14.5%*)|
|Vitamin Β2 (Riboflavin) (mg)||2.44||0.07 (5%*)|
|Vitamin Β3 (Niacin) (mg)||10.8||0.32 (2%*)|
|Vitamin Β5 (Pantothenic acid) (mg)||1.07||0.03 (0.5%*)|
|Βιταμίνη Β6 (Pyridoxine) (μg)||549||16.47 (1%*)|
|Biotin (μg)||44||1.32 (2.5%*)|
|Folic acid (μg)||827||24.81 (12.5%*)|
|Vitamin Β12 (Cyanocobalamin) (μg)||182||5.46 (218%*)|
|Vitamin Ε (mg)||7.78||0.23 (2%*)|
|Calcium (Ca) (mg)||1028.3||30.85 (4%*)|
|Iron (Fe) (mg)||50.4||1.51 (11%*)|
|Phosphorus (P) (mg)||1374.8||41.24 (6%*)|
|Iodine (I) (μg)||22||0.66 (0.4%*)|
|Magnesium (Mg) (mg)||598.8||17.96 (5%*)|
|Zinc (Zn) (mg)||6.5||0.195 (2%*)|
|Selenium (Se) (μg)||59||1.77 (3%*)|
|Copper (Cu) (μg)||810||24.3 (2.5%*)|
|Manganese (Mn) (mg)||5.3||0.16 (8%*)|
|Chromium (Cr) (μg)||110||3.3 (8%*)|
|Potassium (K) (mg)||1558||46.75 (2.5%*)|
|Barium (Ba) (μg)||1190||35.70|
|Cobalt (Co) (μg)||35||1.05|
|Sodium (Na) (mg)||756||22.68|
* RDA: Recommended Daily Allowance
**Considering that 6μg of provitamin Α are converted into 1μg of vitamin Α
|Amino acids Profile||Per 100g||Per 3g|
|Essential Amino acids|
|Non Essential Amino acids|
|Aspartic acid (g)||5.66||0.170|
|Glutamic acid (g)||8.05||0.242|
|Fatty Acids Profile|
|gamma-Linolenic acid (C18:3) (mg)||1960.4||58.81|
|a- Linolenic acid (C18:3) (mg)||311.2||9.34|
|Linoleic acid (C18:2) (mg)||138.7||4.16|
|Palmitic acid (C16:0) (mg)||735.3||22.06|
|Oleic acid (C18:1) (mg)||157.3||4.72|
|Myristic acid (C14:0) (mg)||85.9||2.58|
|Capric acid (C10:0) (mg)||61.2||1.84|
|Lauric acid (C12:0) (mg)||59.3||1.78|
|Palmitoleic acid (C16:1) (mg)||48.6||1.46|
|Stearic acid (C18:0) (mg)||48.3||1.45|
|Arachidic acid (C20:0) (mg)||42.2||1.27|