Spirulina…. did you say Spirulina ?
It is a microcosmical blue-green microalga, among the most well-known that has been growing for more than 3 billions of years in alkaline soft water of warm region lakes such as Peru, Africa, Mexico. It has a spiral shape that gave its name of spirulina.
This microalga is intensively produced in California, in Hawaii and in Thailand. The most popular kind available on the market is Spirulineplatensis (among 30 edible kinds). Its colour is due to the presence of pigments: chlorophyll and phycocyanin.
Since the 50s its popularity has kept growing thanks to its fabulous nutritional virtues.
The composition of spirulina is exceptional for it contains a multitude of different nutrients and of course a lot of protein (70 % od dry extract). More precisely it brings:
- Protein, amino acids (8 essential amino acids but not a lot of methionine) , 60 gr of proteins for 100 gr of dry spirulina.
- Carbohydrates: 18 gr for 100 gr of dry spirulina.
- Vitamins: E B (B1, B2, B3, B12) and K
- Minerals (iron, calcium, magnesium) oligo-elements (selenium, zinc, iodic, borum) not rich in sodium and without iodine for ex 100 gr of iron for 100 gr of dry spirulina.
- Essential fatty acid (alpha linoleic acid, gamma linoleic.)it is to noticed that gamma linoleic can be found in maternal milk , 6gr of lipids for 100 gr of dry spirulina.
- Enzymes among which superoxide dismutase (SOD) : an important enzyme against free radicals and stress oxidant
- Pigments such as C–phycocyanin (blue pigment ), beta-carotene (orange pigment) with antioxidant propriety and chlorophyll
The nutritional value depends on the location of growing, crops, drying and of course seasons.
Although its nutritional qualities are less than meat eggs and dairy products, they are superior to nuts and grains. That is why it is regularly used by sport people all around the world, professional or non-professional, in different sports and disciplines, endurance, speed, resistance or strength.
It is sold in powder, flakes, capsules, tablets liquids etc.
Spirulina and sport … worth it ?
It is rich in zinc and iron, which is a good thing for vegan athletes. Indeed, haemoglobin that transports oxygen from the lungs to the cells is composed of iron and a lack of it engenders anaemia ( feared especially among sportsmen)
Zinc which plays a large part for smelling and tasting right also plays an important part in the healthy functioning of the immune system (a lack of these cells create a diminishing resistance to infections) and play a key role in performing well in sport.
Moreover, its richness in vegetal protein associated with dry vegetables such as lentils, beans peas, cereals and their derived product ( bread and pastas) soya can easily help provide the daily needs.
Poor in calories and lipids, it is really appreciated by people being on a low-fat diet. And as it is complete on a micro nutritional level it allows malnourished people (such as elderly, anorexic, recovering people) to revitalize and rejuvenate!
During an intense exercise, we can notice an excessive formation of radicals at traumas that create an inflammatory state. Thanks to its composition antioxidants and essential fatty acid, this microalga is an excellent partner to complete your daily food intake and to prevent any slowdown of performances.
The daily posology is between 5 to 10 gr. daily according to the specific parameters of each athletes. The course of treatment last for about one or two months to be renewed more than once a year. The best time to take it is in the evening, during the evening meal, to help the recovery process, and regeneration of energy (glycogen) and the reconstruction of tissues (bones, muscles and viscera) .
On a cooking point of view, it can put in soups any kind of hot salty beverages or broths as well as starches, (rise, semolina, pasta) vegetables to improve their nutritive values. Only its colour is not attractive.
On the sugary side spirulina can be added and mixed with dairy products such as yoghourts white cheese cereals and oat.
And it can be drunk in juice water or milk.
As a conclusion …
According to its great nutritional values, spirulina must be added to the intake of sportsmen during intense training periods, competitions and recovery times or during restrictive diets. Remember that spirulina is poor in calories thus, either drunk or eaten, it is an ally to help fighting eventual micro-deficiency in “greedy for performances” athletes. Spirulina and sport = interesting intake .
Sports Dietitian Nutritionist