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The algae Chlorella and Spirulina - special microorganisms

Some algae are mainly used as vegetables in Japanese cuisine. The algae Spirulina and Chlorella contain amino acids, vitamins, minerals and fatty acids. They also have health benefits.

Algae are an extensive group of microorganisms and plants that predominantly exist in water, but also on land. Algae come in the form of single cells, loose clusters, and firmly connected or more branched colonies. Their structures are similar to plant roots, stems or leaves. Most algae have cell walls, contain chlorophyll and have photosynthesis. Occasionally the chlorophyll component is covered by other pigments.

Algae generally contain the nutrients beta-carotene, the nucleic acids DNA and RNA, and chlorophyll. Depending on the species, they usually provide a number of other nutrients. However, algae can also absorb various heavy metals, depending on their habitat, for example through the contamination of sea water. If they are consumed as vegetables or used as food supplements, they should be of good quality.

Blue-green algae
Algae of this group belong to the microorganisms. They have similar cell structures to bacteria, but like plants they carry out photosynthesis. The chlorophyll it contains gives these algae their green color, while phycocyanin (a chromoprotein = protein with a dye molecule) ensures their bluish color. Probably the best-known blue-green algae with health functions is spirulina.

Spirulina contains a whole range of nutrients that are beneficial to health. These include various amino acids, including alanine, valine, isoleucine, lysine, threonine, and phenylalanine. Spirulina also contains relatively small amounts of glycogen, the carotenoids beta-carotene and xanthophyll, the enzyme superoxide dismutase, useful fatty acids such as gamma-linolenic and linoleic acid, minerals and trace elements such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc and manganese, chlorophyll and phycocyanin as well as many B vitamins (B1, B2, B6, folic acid, niacin and pantothenic acid).

With these micro-nutrients, spirulina acts on a number of health functions. It can strengthen the cardiovascular system and, above all, stimulate the formation of blood cells. This is mainly due to the phycocyanin content, which also promotes stem cells in the bone marrow. The immune system can also benefit from spirulina, as the nutrients it contains stimulate immune cells. Spirulina can increase the formation of antibodies, it also stimulates the formation and activity of T lymphocytes, phagocytes (macrophages, phagocytes) and killer cells. It can also strengthen the functions of the important immune organs, the thymus gland and the spleen.

Spirulina has anti-inflammatory, antiviral (e.g. on herpes simplex) and antioxidant effects. It stimulates the metabolism and can help improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Spirulina can further protect cells and stimulate the repair of damage in DNA. It can also reduce the toxic effects of lead in the body.

Green algae
Green algae are single or multicellular, they form foam-, film-, fiber-like, branched and matted colonies or, as with seaweed, leaf-like fronds. Green algae have very different habitats, ranging from fresh water to rocks and other cold, damp surfaces.

Probably the best-known green alga is Chlorella, it is unicellular and settles in still, fresh waters, but also on the ground or tree bark. There are different types of Chlorella, the main ones used in food supplements are Chlorella pyrenoidosa.

Chlorella contains many nutrients, especially polysaccharides and chlorophyll, but also various amino acids, including arginine, leucine, lysine and phenylalanine. It also contains several minerals and trace elements, e.g. iron, magnesium, calcium, zinc, iodine and germanium. The vitamins contain A, C, E and K, many B vitamins and the vitaminoids choline and inositol.

Chlorella has several health effects, most notably on the immune system. It can stimulate the immune system and strengthen immune responses. This can help protect against bacterial or viral infections or prevent colds. Chlorella is believed to reduce high blood pressure and accelerate wound healing.

One of the most important functions of Chlorella is that it can help detoxify and remove accumulated cadmium, lead, mercury and dioxin. Chlorella is therefore often used as a dietary supplement to remove heavy metals, e.g. after dental restoration with the removal of amalgam fillings. However, relatively high amounts of Chlorella (approx. 8 g daily or more) are necessary for this.

Spirulina and Chlorella as a dietary supplement
Since the proportion of the individual substances in algae is quite low, they usually have to be taken in higher doses as a dietary supplement.

Spirulina and Chlorella are available as nutritional supplements in the form of powder, capsule, and tablet. Since the nutrients contained in these algae are generally available in relatively small doses, the dose recommendations for food supplements are usually in the range of two or more grams per day.

Chlorella and spirulina are also part of so-called "green foods", various mixtures with plant-based nutrients, often including wheat and barley grass. The dosage of spirulina and chlorella should be recommended by therapists to support therapies or for diversions.