Spirulina is an ancient strain of blue-green algae that has been around long before the advent of man. It typically grows in saltwater and some fresh water pools as algal blooms and is receiving much attention these days as a “superfood” due to its high protein content (60% to 70%) and plant-based phytonutrients. A total of (15) individual amino acids, vitamins and minerals are known to exist actively in this nutritional wonder. It’s easy to grow (yourself) at home and is relatively inexpensive.
Encapsulated Spirulina versus Naturally Occurring: Big corporations have been mass marketing it for years in encapsulated tablets and powders. A quick glance down any supplement aisle in your local health food store will most certainly yield various spirulina products. Unfortunately encapsulation is a form of rendering where many of the bio-active ingredients are stripped away leaving you (and your poor dog) with a “watered down” version that is not all its cracked up to be. Similarly, powder forms endure a rigorous degradation process where the final product is dried and prepped to attain a lengthy shelf life. Any time a natural food product is subjected to heat, random handling and ultimately encapsulation, it’s a pretty safe bet that the highly desirable phytonutrients are probably a shell – if present at all – of their former self. It’s best to go with the real stuff.
Did you know: Algae produce their own food through the miracle of photosynthesis by absorbing light pigments (along with carbon dioxide + water) and converting them into usable glucose.
Algae fast fact: Blue/green algae get their green color from chlorophyll.
Nutritional Profile: A veritable nutritional powerhouse, Spirulina contains copious amounts of: calcium, niacin, potassium, magnesium, and iron (all minerals) along with (8) essential amino acids, (10) non-essential amino acids (building blocks of protein) and (6) carotenoids. The spectrum of B complex vitamins is impressive to say the least with this single cell superfood laden with B1, B2, B3, B6, Folic acid and Pantothenic acid. The bright green color is due to the chlorophyll content which is instrumental in helping algae produce their own food by way of photosynthesis.
Not to be confused with Chlorella (another form of algae – but closer to being a plant than Spirulina). Chlorella has been shown to remove toxic heavy metals (like mercury), whereas, Spirulina does not have that ability.
What is the best form of Spirulina to buy? Spirulina comes in capsules, tablets, powders and flakes at better health food stores and organic markets. I do not recommend using these forms of Spirulina as many of the large manufacturers use low-grade ingredients and are not always careful about hygienic practices due to the burgeoning world-wide demand for their product (time is money, not quality) which puts this inferior brand of Spirulina at risk for contamination. Since many of the popular store brands are actually produced outside the USA, it’s anyone’s guess as to how long they’ve been sitting in some warehouse in a foreign land.
We have a better idea: Why not grow your own at home. It’s relatively inexpensive and gives you the peace of mind knowing that you are culturing something that is free of bacteria, toxic chemicals and pollutants. You’ll be feeding your dog a great source of protein that is completely 100% unadulterated. Several on-line companies offer Spirulina Starter Kits that contain everything you’ll (except, maybe, the small aquarium or tank) need to get you going.
I produced my own Spirulina at home. Now what? The taste of Spirulina has been (not so) affectionately referred to as “drinking pond scum.” I know all too well that just dropping some of this “green super food “ into your dog’s bowl is akin to offering them a tasteless piece of shoe leather. Most dogs simply won’t eat it. Instead, I would make it into a smoothie along with some other healthy ingredients.
www.spirulinaacademy.com - DIY information on algae growth starter, pH balance, equipment, tutorials, etc. Absolutely everything you need to get started in this fascinating food revolution of the future.
www.-grow-organic-spirulina.com – Home instruction primer for the ambitious algae grower. Everything from starter kits to support.
www.algaeindustrymagazine.com – The definitive, one-stop site for those interested in learning more about the world of home propagation for this cyanobacteria superfood.
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