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Spirulina: Nutritional Fertility and Pregnancy Support

Spirulina: Nutritional Fertility and Pregnancy Support

Spirulina is an excellent way to support healthy fertility and pregnancy through its superior nutritional content. Spirulina is a cyanobacterium, that is commonly referred to as blue-green algae. The protein in spirulina is considered to be of the highest quality protein, superior to all other plant proteins, including those in the legume family (beans, peas, soy, etc.). It is also an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. Because spirulina is an exceptionally nutritive plant food source, it has been shown to be excellent for supporting healthy fertility and pregnancy.

Several studies on mice have shown no adverse effects on pregnant mice who were fed spirulina daily at a weight-appropriate dosage. Excessive dosage of spirulina was shown to have some adverse effects to both the mice mothers and pups. This study makes a good point; it is important to use spirulina as a food, not in high doses. More does not equal better results!

Benefits of Spirulina for Healthy Fertility

Spirulina is one of the most asked about nutritional food supplements today. Spirulina is part of our Fertilica FertiliGreens product. FertiliGreens combines a variety of green foods and herbal tonics specifically formulated to help boost nutrition levels in couples preparing for pregnancy. Should a woman wish to continue supplementing with a green foods supplement like FertiliGreens, we suggest transitioning to an organic pure spirulina powder. This is because FertiliGreens contains some herbs not meant to be continued into pregnancy.

“Let your food be your medicine and your medicine your food” -Hippocrates, 460-c. 370 BC

Spirulina is a Complete Protein Source
This green super food is a complete protein source, as it contains all the amino acids necessary to qualify as a complete protein source. Protein content is 50-70% of its total dry weight. There is a variation in percentage of protein content dependent on time of harvest in relation to daylight. It contains the most protein when harvested in the early daylight (interesting!).

Whole Food Spirulina Contains a Wide Variety of Vitamins and Minerals
As we all know a whole food diet is essential to healthy fertility. Spirulina provides a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, all of which are easily utilized by the body. Spirulina is an easy way to boost your nutritional intake daily!

Vitamins: A, D, E, K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, B6, B12, Folate and Pantothenic Acid.

Minerals: Potassium, calcium, zinc, magnesium, manganese, selenium, iron, copper, and phosphorus. Because spirulina grows in fresh water, rather than salt water like seaweed, it contains a relatively low amount of sodium.

Antioxidant Content May Improve Egg & Sperm Health, Prevent Preeclampsia
Many of the vitamins and minerals in spirulina are antioxidants, which have been shown to protect the body from free radical damage. Oxidative damage due to free radicals has been shown to contribute to fertility issues such as luteal phase defect, poor egg and sperm health, as well as lowered overall immunity and health.

Researchers in Mexico suggest that spirulina may be helpful in treating women with preeclampsia or preventing it from happening at all. This may be due to its superior nutritional content, but researchers suggest it for another reason. Numerous studies have shown that preeclampsia is associated with increased oxidative stress in both the placenta and vascular system of the mother. NADPH oxidase has been shown to be the number one source for oxidant stress associated with preeclampsia. Phycocyanobilin (PCB) contained in spirulina has been shown to inhibit NADPH. This may help to protect mother and child from preeclampsia. The leading cause of preeclampsia is poor nutrition.

Essential Fatty Acids
Spirulina contains essential fatty acids in the form of linolenic acid, linoleic acid and arachidonic acid. These essential fatty acids aid in prostaglandin function necessary for hormonal balance and blood pressure regulation (also important for pregnancy).

Low Sugar and Starch Content
Spirulina only contains about 10-15% carbohydrate content. Spirulina consumption does not alter insulin levels, which makes it safe for those with PCOS, or diabetes-related infertility.

Where Does Spirulina Come From?
Spirulina naturally grows in alkaline lake water in warm regions. It is now farmed in controlled environments as well. Spirulina is tiny, measuring only 0.1mm across. Its rapid growth makes it a sustainable food crop. Because spirulina grows in such harsh conditions, it has been shown to be a very clean food source.

Suggested Daily Dosage
There are no official recommended daily guidelines for spirulina, but a general consensus is that 3000mg a day is safe. There are many spirulina products on the market, it is best to always follow the suggested guidelines on the product label for the product that you purchased. Always let your health care provider know what nutritional supplements you are taking, as they may be able to suggest an amount to take based on your personal needs. If you are pregnant, it is very important you let your doctor know you wish to take spirulina or are taking it. Never exceed suggested dosage for the product you are taking.

Spirulina comes in tablets, capsules or loose powder. The loose powder is excellent in Fertility Smoothies. Spirulina is a key ingredient in our Fertilica FertiliGreens! Remember that Fertilica FertiliGreens is not suggested for use in pregnancy, so switching to a pure spirulina supplement is suggested if you wish to use a greens supplement into pregnancy.

References

  • Salazar, M., Martınez, E., Madrigal, E., Ruiz, L. E., & Chamorro, G. A. (1998). Subchronic toxicity study in mice fed Spirulina maxima. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 62(3), 235-241.
  • Kapoor, R., & Mehta, U. (1993). Effect of supplementation of blue green alga (Spirulina) on outcome of pregnancy in rats. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition,43(1), 29-35. doi:10.1007/bf01088093
  • McCarty, M., Barroso-Aranda, J. and Contreras, F., (n.d.). Spirulina for Prevention and Control of Preeclampsia. Oasis of Hope Hospital, Tijuana, Mexico. Retrieved from http://phycobilin.org/research/spirulina-PE.pdf
  • Spirulina’s Nutritional Analysis. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.naturalways.com/spirulina-analysis.htm
  • Seaweed, spirulina, dried Nutrition Facts & Calories. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2765/2

Dalene Barton-Schuster - Certified Herbalist, Birth Doula

Practicing natural health and herbalism since 2000, Dalene received her training and certification under the guidance of Lynn Albers at Yarmony Mt. Herbal College in Colorado. She went on to become a Certified Birth Doula at Birthingway College of Midwifery in Portland, Oregon in 2007.

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[-] 19 Comments
  1. My midwife said this is a no-go and referenced Dr. Andrew Weil’s new article Is Spirulina Safe.
    Any comments?

    • Dear Susie,

      There are so many schools of thought and sources of information. If truly can make knowing what to trust hard. I understand that.

      This is going to be a longer reply than normal, yet I feel it very warranted here to help clarify that we know organic spirulina to be safe.

      I am not a practicing medical doctor who has documented case histories of adverse events from taking Spirulina in supplement form. I guestion if Dr. Weil does. I have, however, read research on Spirulina powder, as well as worked with clients who have used it prior to and in pregnancy. I simply am not finding any research, nor have we experienced with our clients, that there is any concern about consuming Spirulina preconception or in pregnancy.

      There are a large number of Spirulina species, including, yet not limited to Spirulina platensis (Arthrospira platensis), Spirulina maxima (Arthrospira maxima), and Spirulina fusiformis (Arthrospira fusiformis). We understand that identification and source are important. Quality control in the growth and processing of Spirulina in order to avoid contamination is mandatory to guarantee the safety of Spirulina products.

      Spirulina has a long history and documented record of human consumption, and as a result of the extensive study of it, it is known by prominent researchers to be safe and nutritious. Spirulina has been marketed to and determined safe for human consumption as food.

      Spirulina studies in which the outcome is not forced have not revealed specific body or organ toxicity, or genotoxicity and proven that ingesting very high levels of Spirulina during pregnancy does not cause fetal abnormalities or birth defects.

      I would like to highlight a portion of a report from the Aquatic Biosystems Journal titled “Analysis of β-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) in spirulina-containing supplements by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry” publishes in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health* from which I think some of what Dr. Weil shares may have been sourced either directly or through another who summarized the report: “We could find only a single published study, one conducted by Health Canada’s Bureau of Chemical Safety [15], which examined 11 “blue-green algae” containing food supplements for BMAA content. Using a liquid chromatographic method, the investigators found no BMAA to a detection limit of 200 ng/g. The researchers were able to recover up to 89% of BMAA when they intentionally spiked the supplements with BMAA, lending credibility to their findings. However, despite making note of the connection between BMAA and cyanobacterium spp. as a background to their investigation, within the methods section the group used only the broad term of “blue-green algae food supplements” and they did not specify species or provide a detailed description of the algae within the 11 products in question. It is unclear if the researchers were intending to examine spirulina, underscoring the need for proper nomenclature. Therefore, the presence/absence of BMAA in products specifically listing spirulina (or Arthrospira spp.) as an ingredient remains an open question… Advanced techniques indicate that the broad assumption that all (or 90% plus) members of the cyanobacterial taxa are BMAA producers may be incorrect [22]. Indeed, the most extensive review of the topic to date [23] has suggested that many of the assumptions related to the presence of BMAA in aquatic biosystems are based on a background of inadequate analytical methods and false positives.”

      That said, as with several supplements and foods determined to be safe, it is true that there are rare cases of side-effects in humans that have been reported. For people suffering from bleeding disorders or thyroid health issues, special care needs to be taken to not over-consume dark green leafy vegetables and we would not promote the use of Spirulina for these patients without guidance. I have not heard of Spirulina causing a bleeding disorder.

      Studies have actually proven Spirulina to:
      – Protect a fetus against toxicity from maternal heavy-metal exposure
      – Improve maternal iron absorption promoting healthy blood formation for mother and fetus
      – Have hypolipidemic, anti-inflammatory properties
      – Contain high in levels nutrients and antioxidants which protect cell integrity

      I welcome the opportunity to learn more on this subject, however, from my research I am not finding anything to indicate that we are misinforming our readers or improperly suggesting a very common, foundational product to support fertility or pregnancy health.

      *Full report: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4130116/

      I hope this is helpful as you choose what is best for your needs! Take care!

  2. I’m concerned about the safety of spirulina. Acording to many sources online
    it says to avoid it during pregnancy. Some say it detoxifies heavy metals, how can it be used
    at such a time?
    Thank you

    • Dear Marion,

      Organic Spirulina is a wonderful source of plant protein, antioxidants, B-vitamins and many other nutrients in pregnancy. It is always best to purchase certified organic Spirulina.

      I am not sure what the sources you refer to are, but it is my understanding that it is Chlorella that is used more for detoxifying from heavy metals and not intended for use in pregnancy.

  3. Is spirulina all right to take if you have endometriosis ? As it contains the fatty acid arachidonic acid, which makes bad prostaglandins that affect endometriosis ?

    Thank you.

    • Dear Becky,

      Arachidonic acid is an nutritious omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid that the body actually requires to function properly. We all need a healthy balance of omega 3s, 6s, and 9s. When these EFAs are in a healthy balance the body i not likely to overproduce prostaglandins or be plagued by inflammation. ARA from Spirulina is one of the healthiest forms of omega-6 EFA. Spirulina has superior, organic nutritional properties – in addition to containing polyunsaturated fats, it is rich in high-quality protein and antioxidants.

      So, in short I do think it is fine to consume if you have endometriosis. It may actually be helpful in addition to a whole food Fertility Diet, with limited consumption of red meat, dairy and gluten.

    • Thank you for your reply Elizabeth. It has been very helpful.
      Regards, Becky

  4. Hi there, I would like to know if spirulina helps with ovarian cyst. People been asking me to take spirulina. But I couldnt find online that says that spirulina helps with the cyst.

    Could you advise me on this?

    Regards,
    Reiyana

  5. Hi,
    How many flat tsps would 3000mg of spirulina be?
    Thank you.

    • Hello Alina!

      This would depend on the Spirulina product purchased. In general it is best to follow the suggested use of the product purchased.

  6. I am pregnant and wish to start a spirulina supplement. Could you recommend a source? Also, do you know if we can take spirulina and a prenatal? Do you have any yummy recipes for taking loose powder spirulina? Thanks for your time:)

  7. I read that Spirulina may contain mercury.

    Also, Spirulina — like any blue-green algae — can be contaminated with toxic substances called microcystins. (Source: Spirulina | University of Maryland Medical Center)

    The article recommends acquiring from a reputable source, but how can I be sure of that what’ve purchased is from a reputable source? Can you make some recommendations? I have placenta previa and would like to keep my iron count up, given the added hemorrhage risk with this condition.

    Many thanks.

    • Hello Rio!

      Congratulations on your pregnancy! I hope that it is going well aside from having placenta previa!

      Reputable sources are often Certified Organic, meet QAI standards, or are GMP certified. Each of these standards in general protects the consumer from purchasing a product which is not effective or even dangerous, and assures the identity, strength, quality and purity of the product. Do some searching for the logos for each certification to see how companies mark the product labels if you are not familiar already.

      All of the supplements we offer are cGMP per FDA regulations and Organic Spirulina can be found in the Natural Fertility Shop.

      You may already know these, but there are several food sources of iron – beets, spinach, beans, lean animal meats, pumpkin seeds, molasses and asparagus – which can all be consumed in pregnancy. Make sure to also include foods that help with the absorption of iron like oranges, strawberries, broccoli, tomatoes and green peppers.

      All my best!

  8. How concerned do you think we should be about Fukishima and trace elements of radiation in the Pacific Ocean? I know that sounds crazy but I have a friend who no longer takes spirulina because of this. Thanks!

    • Hi Sybil Sanchez,

      Good question. To tell you the truth, there are probably many places spirulina is harvested or farmed, and I would guess it would be of most concern to locate a source that is not directly in the line of the spread of the Fukushima radiation leak going into the ocean. I am not sure the actual scientific showing of the impact of the Fukushima fall out on our food sources of any kind, though I have read some articles on concerns of this, I am not 100% sure any of them are true. The brand of spirulina we sell come from organic farms, cultivated in ponds, not in the ocean. I think that if we constantly fear this issue, we may never eat anything, since much of our quality foods come from the West Coast of the United States. We do face a time of concern of human-made pollution in our food sources and all we can do is make the best possible choices, based on our own research of a product we wish to purchase. I assure you our spirulina containing products have very, very strict standards for quality. Has spirulina been contaminated by Fukushima? Have we? Have our other foods sources? Probably at some level, but to which level, I am not sure.

      Spriulina is a nutrient dense food, there is no question about that. Choose organic, ethically farmed spirulina!

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