European organic SpirulinaVitality, immunity & sport
Our European organic spirulina, whose scientific name is Spirulina platensis, is a “superfood”. Spirulina is high in proteins and a source of iron. It also contains significant amounts of phycocyanin, chlorophyll, omega-6 and beta-carotene.
It is grown in Europe and is organic-, halal- and kosher-certified.
It is available as a powder or as nibs/vermicelli for use in health-food products or food supplements and is ideal for vegans.
What is spirulina?
Scientific evidence indicates that Spirulina platensis (also known as Arthrospira platensis ) (class Cyanophyceae, family Oscillatoriaceae) appeared on Earth 3.5 million years ago (Piccolo, 2011).
Spirulina is a cyanobacterium that grows in alkaline freshwaters (Barry et al., 2014; Marles et al., 2011).
Spirulina makes its own food through the process of photosynthesis . Photosynthesis involves absorbing the sun’s energy and carbon dioxide for the production of organic matter and oxygen (Hirata et al., 2000).
Because it is a photosynthetic organism , spirulina was long considered an alga. For this reason, spirulina is commonly called a “ microalga ”; likewise, cyanobacteria are a group of organisms commonly called “blue-green algae”. However, cyanobacteria are actually Gram-negative prokaryotic bacteria (Barry et al., 2014; Marles et al., 2011).
Our European organic spirulina is a superfood, whose composition is 100% Arthrospira platensis . It is rich in essential bioactive components.
We offer two types of European organic spirulina.
- Solar-dried European organic spirulina contains on average 60% proteins, 12% phycocyanin and 80 mg of iron . It also contains 40 to 50% omega-6 (relative to total lipid content) and 250 to 350 mg of magnesium.
- Spray-dried European organic spirulina contains on average 50% proteins, 8% phycocyanin and 80 mg of iron . It also contains 40 to 50% omega-6 (relative to total lipid content) and 250 to 350 mg of magnesium.
Spirulina contains chlorophyll pigments, which participate in photosynthesis and gives it its green color. This pigment has antioxidant properties (Munawaroh et al., 2019; Marles et al., 2011).
The bluish color, characteristic of the so-called blue-green algae, is due to the phycocyanin pigments, known for their antioxidant activity (Hirata et al., 2000).
Spirulina also contains beta-carotene .
These components together effectively confer undeniable health benefits to our spirulina products.
- Barry M., Ouedraogo M., Sourabie S. et Guissou I-P., Intérêt thérapeutique de la spiruline chez l’homme: revue général. International Journal of Biological and Chemical Science. Volume 8(issue6): pp2740-2749, Décembre 2014
- Hirata T., Tanaka M., Ooike M., Tsunomura T.& Sakaguchi M., Antioxidant activities of phycocyanobilin prepared from Spirulina platensis. Journal of Applied Phycology 12: 435–439, 2000
- Marles R. J., Barrett M. L., Barnes J., Chavez M. L., Gardiner P., Ko R., Mahady G. B., Low Dog T., Sarma N. D., Giancaspro G. L., Sharaf M.,Griffiths J., United States Pharmacopeia Safety Evaluation of Spirulina. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 51:593–604 (2011)
- Munawaroh H. S. H. , Fathur R. M. , Gumilar G. , Aisyah S. , Yuliani G. , Mudzakir A. and Wulandari A. P. Characterization and physicochemical properties of chlorophyll extract from Spirulina sp. Journal of Physics: Conference Series 1280 (2019) 022013
- Piccolo A. Spirulina A Livehood And A Business Venture. Report SF/2011/16 " Indian Ocean Commission - SmartFish Program. 2011
As a superfood, spirulina has many health benefits.
1. Effects on the immune system
a. Cingi et al., 2008
b. Selmi et al., 2011
c. Mao T. K. et al., 2005
a. Sandhu et al., 2010
b. Johnson et al.,2016
Scientific studies have shown that spirulina has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and can act on the immune system, exercise performance and tiredness (Liu et al., 2016).
1. Effects on the immune system
Many studies have suggested that spirulina plays a role in the immune system, due to the anti-inflammatory properties of phycocyanin , for the most part. Owing to its chemical structure, C-phycocyanin also has antioxidant properties and can sequester free radicals (Mao et al., 2005).
The role of phycocyanin in immunity has been the subject of a scientific literature review (Liu et al. 2016). Several studies on animals have shown that C-phycocyanin can improve immunity and help the body prevent and resist infection (Liu et al., 2016).
a. Cingi et al., 2008
A randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study was carried out on 150 people aged 19 to 49 years old with clinical antecedents of allergic rhinitis and showing symptoms thereof during the study (Cingi et al., 2008).
The goal of the study was to assess the effectiveness of spirulina on the symptoms of people suffering from allergic rhinitis .
For 6 months , half of the study population received a daily dose of 2 g of spirulina and the other half received a placebo. Of the 129 patients who followed the treatment for the duration of the study (6 months), 85 had taken spirulina and 44 had been treated with placebo tablets.
The patients also filled out a questionnaire once a week throughout the study to score their symptoms (nasal congestion, runny nose, itchy nose, sneezing).
The results show that the consumption of spirulina significantly improved the allergy symptoms (nasal discharge, sneezing, nasal congestion and itchy nose) compared with the placebo.
Daily supplementation with 2 g of spirulina for 6 months thus led to a significant decrease in allergy symptoms in allergic rhinitis patients (Cingi et al., 2008).
b. Selmi et al., 2011
In another study (Selmi et al., 2011), 40 people aged over 50 took 3 g of spirulina a day for 3 months. The goal of this study was to study the role spirulina plays on immune function.
According to the results of this study, the number of white blood cells increased , particularly in the older people. Moreover, the indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) enzyme, which regulates the immune response and contributes to the innate immune response, increased in more than half of the study participants.
Spirulina can thus play a beneficial role in countering immunological dysfunction (immunosenescence) in older people (Selmi et al., 2011).
c. Mao T. K. et al., 2005
Another randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study (Mao et al., 2005) was carried out on 36 subjects, aged from 18 to 55 years, with a history of allergic rhinitis, but no other health issues.
The aim of this study was to assess the impact of spirulina on the production of cytokines — and interleukin-4 in particular —, which stimulate the production of inflammatory mediators, source of some allergy symptoms.
The study participants were divided into three groups, one treated with a placebo (group D), one treated with a spirulina-based food supplement at a daily dose of 1 g (group C) and a third supplemented daily with 2 g of spirulina (group U) for 12 weeks .
Blood samples were taken at the onset of the study (T0) and at 12 weeks (T12). Blood cells were cultured with or without phytohemagglutinin (PHA), which stimulates cytokine production.
The results show that after 12 weeks, with a daily consumption of 2 g of spirulina, IL-4 production significantly decreased by 32% with respect to T0 levels.
Supplementation with spirulina thus appears to have an effect on the regulation of some mediators involved in the immune system in allergy patients.
- These studies demonstrate the effect of spirulina on the regulation of the immune response and on the attenuation of symptoms related to allergic rhinitis, at a daily dose of at least 2 g.
Several clinical studies have demonstrated the effect of spirulina supplementation on exercise performance , with — in particular — improved muscle strength and reduced fatigue and muscle damage after taking supplements. (Jensen et al., 2016 ; Kalafati et al., 2010)
Practicing a sport and intensive use of muscles lead to the production of free radicals and other reactive oxygen species in the working muscle. This is due to an increase in oxygen consumption in tissues and to the inability of the body to eliminate free radicals. Free radicals cause oxidation within cells, affecting proteins in particular, causing muscle fatigue (Jackson, 1998).
One study has shown that daily spirulina supplements of 7.5 g for three weeks lead to a significant decrease in the plasma concentrations of malondialdehyde , an oxidative stress marker in a group of people who exercise regularly (Lu et al, 2006).
Other studies have demonstrated positive results on markers of inflammation.
a. Sandhu et al., 2010
Sandhu et al. (2010) carried out a randomized controlled trial on 40 people in good health.
In the trial, the participants were divided into two groups. One group included 20 physically active subjects, undergoing regular sports training; of them, 10 received spirulina supplements and the other 10 received a placebo. The other group included 20 subjects not involved in any sports training; likewise, half (n=10) took spirulina supplements, and the other half took a placebo.
The participants in the supplemented groups received 2 g of spirulina (Spirulina platensis) daily for 8 weeks.
The purpose of the study was to determine the effectiveness of spirulina supplementation on muscle strength and endurance. Two isometric contractions of the quadriceps muscle in the dominant leg were measured to assess muscle strength and endurance (using an HUR1 5340 leg extension/curl computer-controlled instrument).
Between the beginning and the end of supplementation, the supplemented groups — but not the placebo groups — showed a significant increase in average and peak muscle force as well as a significant decrease in the fatigue index (Student's t test).
The figure below shows the measurements of peak force (measured in Newton) before and after supplementation. In the supplemented sports-training group, the average force was 337.4 ± 77.40 N, which is 40% higher than in the placebo group , also practicing intense physical exercise.
After supplementation, there was a significant difference between the groups in terms of average and peak muscle strength. Moreover, muscle strength in the spirulina-supplemented sports-training group increased more (ANOVA, p<0.01) in those not undergoing any physical training (p<0.05) and significantly so compared with the placebo groups.
Therefore, daily supplementation with 2 g of spirulina for 8 weeks affects muscle strength, particularly in those who practice intense physical activity.
b. Johnson et al.,2016
Other studies have been conducted on the role of spirulina on fatigue arising from physical training.
Johnson et al. (2016) did a randomized double-blind controlled study on 17 men in good health to assess their level of mental and physical resistance to fatigue. One group received 3 g of spirulina (Spirulina platensis) per day (6 tablets of 500 mg) for 8 weeks.
After one week, a daily dose of 3 g of spirulina led to a weak, but statistically significant increase in exercise output (calories consumed during 30 min of exercise on a cross-trainer).
Spirulina supplementation improved fatigue in as little as 4 h after taking the supplement and still had an effect 8 weeks later (Uchida-Kraepelin mental fatigue test).
These results show that a daily dose of 3 g of spirulina for 8 weeks can have an effect on fatigue in study participants.
According to the scientific literature, the recommended daily dose varies between 2 and 7.5 g. This dose range is within the recommended doses for health claims.
- Cingi C., Conk-Dalay M., Cakli H., Bal C. The effects of spirulina on allergic rhinitis. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol (2008) 265:1219–1223
- Jackson MJ. Free radical mechanisms in exercise-related muscle damage. In: Reznick AZ, Packer L, Sen CK, Holloszy JO, Jackson MJ (eds) Oxidative stress in skeletal muscle.
- Birkhauser Verlag, Basel, (1998) pp 75–86
- Jensen GS., Drapeau C., Lenninger M., Benson KF. Clinical Safety of a High Dose of Phycocyanin-Enriched Aqueous Extract from Arthrospira (Spirulina) platensis: Results from a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study with a Focus on Anticoagulant Activity and Platelet Activation. J Med Food 2016 ; 19:645–53.
- Johnson M., Hassinger L., Davis J., Devor ST., DiSilvestro RA. A randomized, double
- blind, placebo controlled study of spirulina supplementation on indices of mental and
- physical fatigue in men. Int J Food Sci Nutr 2016 ; 67:203–6.
- Kalafati M., Jamurtas AZ., Nikolaidis MG., Paschalis V., Theodorou AA., Sakellariou GK., et al. Ergogenic and antioxidant effects of spirulina supplementation in humans. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2010 ; 42:142–51.
- Liu Q., Huang Y., Zhang R., Cai T., Cai Y. Medical Application of Spirulina platensis Derived C-Phycocyanin. Evid-Based Complement Altern Med ECAM 2016 : 7803846.
- Lu H-K, Hsieh C-C et coll. Preventive effects of Spirulina platensis on skeletal muscle damage under exercise-induced oxidative stress. Eur J Appl Physiol. (2006) 98 :220-6.
- Mao T.K., Van de Water J., Gershwin M.E. , Effects of a Spirulina-Based Dietary Supplement on Cytokine Production from Allergic Rhinitis Patients. JOURNAL OF MEDICINAL FOOD 8 (1) 2005, 27–30
- Mao TK., VAN DE Water J., Gershwin ME. Effect of spirulina on the secretion of cytokines from peripheral blood mononuclear cells. J Med Food 2000 ; 3:135–40.
Our European organic spirulina is authorized for use in food and food supplements.
In Europe, spirulina (Arthrospria platensis; also called Spirulina platensis) is not considered a "novel food" because it was on the market as a food or food ingredient and consumed as such before 15 May 1997.
It is also recognized as a foodstuff by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
In France, Spirulina spp. is listed in Annex I of the so-called French “Plants” decree (published on 24 June 2014) (French decree on plants authorized for use in food supplements) (all parts are authorized) and is thus authorized in food supplements.
It is also one of the algae that can be used in food supplements, being on the list drawn up by the French General Directorate for Competition Policy, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) established in 2019.
In Belgium, Spirulina platensis is listed in the Belgian Royal Decree of 31 August 2021 on the manufacture and marketing of foodstuffs constituted or consisting of plants or plant preparations (authorized plant part: unicellular alga).
It is also found in the catalog of plants safe for use in food supplements, based on the BelFrIt project, establishing a common list for Belgium, France and Italy.
In addition, our European spirulina is certified organic in compliance with Regulation (EU) 2018/848 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2018 on organic production and labeling of organic products and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007.
Two types of European organic spirulina are available: either solar-dried or spray-dried.
Both are produced following the strict quality assurance and food safety rules at a European production site with ISO 22000 and ISO 9001 certification.
They are also processed according to organic production rules.
They are both kosher- and halal-certified.
The major steps involved in the production of solar-dried spirulina
Step 1: Spirulina cultivation
First, spirulina strains are cultivated in a small volume of water in conditions that are optimal for cell division. Once concentrated, the culture is transferred to different types of autotrophic reactors and then to tanks, and finally large-scale raceway ponds.
Step 2: Concentration by filtration
Spirulina is harvested by filtration from industrial-sized ponds located in a greenhouse. The water removed during filtration is recovered and reused.
Step 3: Compression and extrusion
Spirulina is pressed into a paste, to further reduce its water content. The paste is extruded, forming spaghetti-like strands that are then spread out on trays to dry.
Step 4: Solar drying
The spirulina strands are then placed in a solar dryer. This (indirect) solar drying technique involves low temperatures with a controlled flow of dry air regulated at 30°C for 8 h.
The slow drying process preserves the nutrients better.
Step 5: Forms of presentation
Spirulina is then either ground into a powder or broken into nibs/vermicelli.
Elementa also offers spray-dried spirulina. The filtered spirulina culture is spray-dried, becoming a fine powder when it comes into contact with hot air under temperature- and pressure-controlled conditions.
Both types of spirulina come in powder form and solar-dried spirulina is also available as nibs/vermicelli. Both forms are bright green with a typical “algae” aroma.
- Food supplements
- Protein bars
- Sports drinks
- Baked products
- Cookies and other biscuits
- Or as sprinkles to add to dishes or beverages
There are several plant-based claims pending regarding spirulina that can be used on food supplement labels. These health claims are tolerated by the European Commission and pending evaluation by EFSA. They involve various aspects of health: immunity, vitality, weight management.
At a daily intake of 6*250 mg, “spirulina strengthens the body’s natural defenses and favors resistance to infection” (ID 2583).
Some claims have different use conditions. For example, claim ID 2737 is based on a daily dose of at least 6*250 mg: “It enhances vitality, maintains stamina and tonus. For use to reduce temporary fatigue” (ID 2737). However, at a daily dose of 2 g or more, claim ID 2737 allows the following labels: “Helps improve tonus and vitality. Helps reduce fatigue. Helps maintain the body’s vitality. Helps to feel energized. Improves vitality/energy.”
There are also claims related to weight management and weight loss.
According to Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006, our European organic spirulina is rich in proteins. Moreover, according to the same Regulation, it is also a source of iron at a daily intake of 3.5 g of spirulina. The “high in iron” claim requires a minimum daily intake of 7 g of our spirulina.
Thus, being high in proteins and a source of iron, the following health claims can be used with our European organic spirulina according to Regulation (EC) No 4332/2012:
- Proteins contribute to growth in muscle mass
- Proteins contribute to the maintenance of muscle mass
- Proteins contribute to the maintenance of normal bones
- Iron contributes to normal energy-yielding metabolism
- Iron contributes to normal formation of red blood cells and hemoglobin
- Iron contributes to normal oxygen transport in the body
- Iron contributes to the normal function of the immune system
- Iron contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue
We recommend a daily dose of 3.5 g of our European organic spirulina to be able to use all the above-mentioned claims and to reap all the health benefits related to immunity and to exercise performance, according to the scientific literature.