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What is Spirulina?

Discovery of Spirulina

In 1940, Dr. Creach, a French pharmacologist, ventured to Africa and arrived at the shores of Lake Chad in Central Africa. There, he discovered a type of tiny green plant floating on the lake surface. The local indigenous people traditionally scooped it up from the lake to mix with chili and spices as a sauce, dried it on the sands to eat, or even sold it in markets. Dr. Creach was intrigued by these green floaters and reported his discovery to the Linnean Society in the Bordeaux region, sending samples to the renowned algologist Dangeard for identification. It turned out that these floaters were a type of spiral algae—Spirulina.

It wasn’t until 25 years later, after World War II, that a French expedition team revisited Africa and found Spirulina blooming not only in Lake Chad but also in other alkaline lakes in the region. At that time, scientists were concerned about the rapid global population growth and the increasing food shortage, so this discovery immediately drew significant attention from algologists, nutritionists, and governments worldwide.

As people were spreading the news of this important discovery, exhilarating news came from Mexico as well. Spirulina was also thriving in Lake Texcoco, near Mexico City.

Spirulina is a primitive plant, belonging to the cyanobacteria family, which are also known as blue-green algae. Like bacteria, their cells lack a true nucleus (called prokaryotic), making them some of the simplest and oldest photosynthetic organisms on Earth, having been around for 3.5 billion years and comprising over a thousand species.

Spirulina itself is just one “genus” with about 38 species, but currently, only two species are utilized in production:

  1. Spirulina platensis (S. platensis)
  2. Spirulina maxima (S. maxima)

These species, originating from Central Africa’s Lake Chad and Central America’s Mexico, have been consumed as natural food by the local populations for centuries, demonstrating their long-term safety for human consumption.

Morphology and characteristics of Spirulina

Spirulina has a green appearance and is spiral-shaped when viewed under a microscope. The cells do not have a real nucleus, nor do they have organelles such as mitochondria and chromatophores that are present in higher animal and plant cells. However, it is a spiral, unbranched, coiled body composed of multiple cells. of filaments. The morphology and characteristics of Spirulina are detailed in Table 1.

Spirulina, like other plants, can use sunlight, carbon dioxide and other minerals to synthesize organic matter while releasing oxygen. It has high photosynthetic efficiency, and its yield per unit area is dozens of times higher than that of field crops. The comparison of yield, protein content and essential amino acid composition between traditional crops and Spirulina is detailed in Table 2, Table 3 and Table 4.


Most spirulina likes high temperature (25~36℃) and high alkalinity (pH value 9~11). Many other organisms have difficulty surviving in such environmental conditions, but spirulina can grow and reproduce rapidly.


Biochemical composition characteristics of Spirulina

① Spirulina contains more than 60% protein, composed of 18 kinds of amino acids, and contains 8 kinds of amino acids necessary for humans and animals.
②Spirulina also contains 6 kinds of vitamins, of which the vitamin B12 content is particularly high, 3.5 times higher than animal liver. It is the highest vitamin B12 content among all known organisms. The content of β-carotene is also high. β-carotene is the precursor of vitamin A. After inhalation, it is stored in the liver and small intestinal wall cells and converted into vitamin A under the action of enzymes. In recent years, experts at home and abroad have unanimously determined that β-carotene has the effects of preventing and fighting cancer, enhancing human immune function and delaying aging.
③The content of γ-linolenic acid and other unsaturated fatty acids in Spirulina cells reaches about 1.7%. They have the function of lowering blood lipids and softening blood vessels.
④ Phycobiliprotein is a photosynthetic pigment unique to cyanobacteria, and its content can be as high as 18% of dry weight. Foreign studies have proven that it is not only a good pure natural blue pigment widely used in food and cosmetics, but also has the ability to improve the body’s immunity and resist AIDS.
disease effect.
⑤Spirulina contains a variety of trace elements and minerals necessary for the human body, such as iron, zinc, copper, selenium, etc. These trace elements and minerals are combined with organic matter and are easily absorbed and utilized by the human body, and can effectively regulate the body’s balance and enzyme activity
In addition, some small molecule polysaccharides and egg-like substances contained in spirulina were discovered. Bioactive substances such as polysaccharides also have excellent medicinal effects.

Main ingredients of spirulina

The cell wall of Spirulina is not made of cellulose, but is made of some polysaccharides, which is easy to digest and absorb. The digestibility of Spirulina is as high as 86%. The main nutritional components of spirulina are detailed in Table 5. The comparison of protein content and caloric content with some major and non-staple foods is shown in Tables 6 and 7.

                                              (a) Freeze-dried and air-dried algal powder grown in laboratories and culture tanks.
(b) Spray-dried algae powder produced from Lake Tex Coco.


Spirulina has the above important biochemical composition characteristics, so it is called the most ideal nutrient bank and recommended by UNESCO as “tomorrow’s most ideal and perfect food”

Spirulina Powder Suppliers


Spirulina, a microalgae lauded for its exceptional nutritional profile, appears as a vibrant green spiral under the microscope. This organism is prokaryotic—lacking a true nucleus and organelles like mitochondria and chromatophores found in more complex cells. Its structure is composed of unbranched, helical filaments, making it not only distinctive in form but also highly efficient in photosynthesis. Thriving in high temperatures (25-36℃) and alkaline conditions (pH 9-11), spirulina’s environmental resilience allows it to outperform traditional field crops in both yield and nutritional density.

Rich in over 60% protein, spirulina contains all essential amino acids necessary for human and animal health, standing out particularly in its provision of vitamin B12—surpassing even animal liver—and beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A renowned for its anti-carcinogenic properties. Additionally, it is a source of γ-linolenic acid and other unsaturated fatty acids beneficial for cardiovascular health. Spirulina’s unique phycobiliprotein not only serves as a natural pigment but also enhances immune response and offers potential anti-viral properties.

The digestibility of spirulina is remarkably high at 86%, due to its cell walls being composed of easily digestible polysaccharides rather than cellulose. This, along with its rich content of trace minerals like iron, zinc, and selenium, readily bioavailable in their organic forms, supports overall bodily function and enzymatic activity. Spirulina’s impressive array of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants makes it an unparalleled supplement in the health food sphere.

In summary, spirulina presents itself as not just a food supplement but a comprehensive nutritional solution capable of supporting a wide array of bodily functions and enhancing overall health. Its robust nutrient profile and sustainability make it an invaluable component of dietary regimens aimed at fostering health and well-being.

The content of this article is provided by RichingNutrition.Riching Nutrition recognizes the profound benefits offered by spirulina and proudly supplies top-grade spirulina powder. Known for our commitment to quality and environmental sustainability, we ensure that every batch of spirulina we provide is cultivated and processed under the strictest standards. We invite health enthusiasts and forward-thinking consumers to explore the potential of spirulina with us. Discover how this “food of tomorrow,” endorsed by UNESCO, can revolutionize your health and dietary practices. Visit us at Riching Nutrition to learn more and to integrate the power of spirulina into your life today.

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