It is a microcosmical blue-green microalga, among the most well-known that has been growing for more than 3 billions of years in alkaline soft water of warm region lakes such as Peru, Africa, Mexico. It has a spiral shape that gave its name of spirulina.
This microalga is intensively produced in California, in Hawaii and in Thailand. The most popular kind available on the market is Spirulineplatensis (among 30 edible kinds). Its colour is due to the presence of pigments: chlorophyll and phycocyanin.
Since the 50s its popularity has kept growing thanks to its fabulous nutritional virtues.
The composition of spirulina is exceptional for it contains a multitude of different nutrients and of course a lot of protein (70 % od dry extract). More precisely it brings:
- Protein, amino acids (8 essential amino acids but not a lot of methionine) , 60 gr of proteins for 100 gr of dry spirulina.
- Carbohydrates: 18 gr for 100 gr of dry spirulina.
- Vitamins: E B (B1, B2, B3, B12) and K
- Minerals (iron, calcium, magnesium) oligo-elements (selenium, zinc, iodic, borum) not rich in sodium and without iodine for ex 100 gr of iron for 100 gr of dry spirulina.
- Essential fatty acid (alpha linoleic acid, gamma linoleic.)it is to noticed that gamma linoleic can be found in maternal milk , 6gr of lipids for 100 gr of dry spirulina.
- Enzymes among which superoxide dismutase (SOD) : an important enzyme against free radicals and stress oxidant
- Pigments such as C–phycocyanin (blue pigment ), beta-carotene (orange pigment) with antioxidant propriety and chlorophyll
The nutritional value depends on the location of growing, crops, drying and of course seasons.
It is rich in zinc and iron, which is a good thing for vegan athletes. Indeed, haemoglobin that transports oxygen from the lungs to the cells is composed of iron and a lack of it engenders anaemia ( feared especially among sportsmen)
Zinc which plays a large part for smelling and tasting right also plays an important part in the healthy functioning of the immune system (a lack of these cells create a diminishing resistance to infections) and play a key role in performing well in sport.
Moreover, its richness in vegetal protein associated with dry vegetables such as lentils, beans peas, cereals and their derived product ( bread and pastas) soya can easily help provide the daily needs.