All pregnant women always want the best foods and supplements to make their babies fat, strong and healthy. Spirulina is the best natural nutritional supplement to support fertility and healthy pregnancy, in addition to containing vitamins and minerals, spirulina also contains the best protein because it is easily absorbed in the body and is superior to all vegetable proteins such as nuts. Many pregnant women worry about the safety and side effects of the foods and supplements they consume during pregnancy. This article will discuss the nutritional value of spirulina, safety, and its side effects for pregnancy and breastfeeding mothers.
Spirulina is a blue-green alga (cyanobacteria) that is sold as a supplement and has benefits to improve immune function, reduce cholesterol, and help prevent cancer. Spirulina is used worldwide as a food supplement which is considered to be one of the most powerful superfoods in the world because it contains more than 100 nutrients.
Spirulina contains several nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and protein which are good for health. Vitamins in spirulina such as Thiamine (vitamin B1), vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin E, Riboflavin (vitamin B2), Niacin (vitamin B3), vitamin B6, vitamin B9 (folate). While the minerals in spirulina that you will find such as Copper, Iron, Potassium, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Sodium, Calcium, Chromium, and Selenium. Spirulina also contains other nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, essential amino acids, omega-3 fatty acids, and omega-6. Nutrients in spirulina are also synthesized by the biosynthetic pathway so that their nutrients are easily absorbed by the human body.
The high natural iron content in spirulina is highly recommended for vegetarians, pregnant women, and consumed after surgery. Spirulina is usually easy to find in warm lake water and is currently widely farmed in a controlled environment. Spirulina which is harvested during the day will have the highest protein content.
Difference between spirulina and chlorella
Spirulina is not the same as chlorella although both have similarities as a type of algae. Spirulina is a type of green-blue algae (cyanobacteria), while chlorella is a green alga. Chlorella has more nucleic acids and chlorophyll than spirulina. Chlorella is not a source of iron, protein, and Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA). Chlorella also has unit properties that make it able to bind to heavy metals so that it can be one of the natural detoxifications of heavy metals and other environmental poisons.
Benefits of consuming spirulina during pregnancy and breastfeeding
Spirulina is usually one of the ingredients added to food supplements that are specially formulated to help improve nutrition in couples who are preparing for pregnancy. Several factors can affect fertility such as an unhealthy lifestyle by smoking and sleeping late at night, giving birth in old age, often eating out with inadequate nutrition, excessive radiation exposure, and the pH level of a partner. Couples who have these factors are advised to consume additional nutrients. High nutrition is needed for couples who are preparing for pregnancy because it is very influential on fetal development in the future.
When entering pregnancy, the blood volume will increase, therefore high iron is needed during this period. Iron deficiency is one of the common problems experienced during pregnancy that can cause brain damage to the fetus. Spirulina contains high iron, which can be used to meet the needs of iron during pregnancy. The iron in spirulina is up to 58x higher than the iron in spinach. The iron in spirulina is also good for vegetarians and vegans because it has an iron that is easily absorbed by the digestive system.
Spirulina is the right choice, usually, tablets that are prescribed by doctors to add iron can cause constipation. Iron tablets are usually inorganic which can cause an increase in oxidative stress during pregnancy so that it can cause damage to body tissues, causing constipation and other problems such as lack of appetite, abdominal pain, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Taking spirulina does not increase oxidative stress levels because it is an easily digestible source of organic iron.
Pregnancy also requires high protein in the mother’s diet because the fetus will develop faster. High protein is needed for placental development, increased volume of maternal blood circulation, enlargement of maternal tissue, and formation of amniotic fluid. Increased protein in food is usually also offset by an increase in calories so that it can cause weight gain.
The protein in spirulina is different from food protein because it does not increase calories and is good for your diet. The protein in spirulina has high quality and has a clean protein utilization rate of between 50-60%. The protein in spirulina is very complete because it contains all the amino acids needed to qualify as a complete protein. The protein in spirulina is also 300% more than the protein in fish, meat or poultry. High protein in spirulina is not only for the physical growth of the fetus but also for the bones of pregnant women to make it stronger for childbirth.
Spirulina is also beneficial for increasing calcium during pregnancy because it is also a healthy source of calcium. The calcium in spirulina is up to 26 times the milk calcium. High calcium during pregnancy is needed to make your baby have strong bones and teeth, heart, muscles, and healthy nerves. Lack of calcium during pregnancy will make the fetus take calcium needs from your bones so that it can produce a negative impact on health.
Apart from being a source of calcium, spirulina is also a source of vitamin A (beta-carotene) which is 25 times more than vitamin A from raw carrots. Vitamin A is used for the growth and development of internal organs during pregnancy. Spirulina also has abundant antioxidants to improve the health of the mother and fetus during pregnancy and protect the body from damage caused by free radicals. Antioxidants in spirulina can also improve the health of eggs, sperm, and prevent preeclampsia.
Spirulina can also protect your baby from exposure to toxic heavy metals such as cadmium which can cause permanent kidney damage. Cadmium is a heavy metal that is found in rice and other common foods. Spirulina also has vitamins B, such as vitamin B-1 (thiamine), B-2 (riboflavin), B-3 (nicotinamide), B-6 (pyridoxine), B-9 (folic acid). Vitamin B1 (thiamin) in spirulina is needed for digestion of fats and proteins to increase energy, nerve function, brain function, and eye health.
Spirulina also contains essential acids in the form of linolenic acid, linoleic acid, and arachidonic acid to support the function of prostaglandins to improve hormonal balance and reduce blood pressure during pregnancy. Spirulina also has anti-inflammatory properties because it contains natural GLA (Gamma Linolenic Acid). Spirulina is also rich in omega 3, omega 6, and omega 9 which provide exceptional benefits during pregnancy. Spirulina can also help reduce total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL, and increase HDL cholesterol during pregnancy.
Research in Mexico and in the article Spriluna for Prevention and Control of Preeclampsia (Mark F. McCartys et al., 2009), also shows that spirulina can prevent preeclampsia in mother and child because it contains phycocyanobilin (PCB) which is proven to inhibit NADPH. NADPH oxidase is proven to be a major cause of oxidant stress associated with preeclampsia in addition to the consequences of malnutrition.
In addition to providing benefits for pregnancy, consuming spirulina is also good for breastfeeding. During breastfeeding, the baby’s mother requires high nutrition from food or other supplements. Spirulina is also recommended for new mothers because of the high iron content. After giving birth, a mother will lose a lot of blood which can cause anemia. Spirulina also helps accelerate the loss of body fat and improve overall body health.
Spirulina which has high quality and free of toxins is certainly safe for consumption during breastfeeding. The safety of spirulina products depends on how spirulina is harvested and where it comes from. Therefore, make sure you get spirulina which has a trusted and non-toxic brand. The belief to get high-quality spirulina that is difficult to obtain and the high risk of transmitting toxins to children makes most people do not recommend spirulina for consumption during breastfeeding. This consideration is also due to the baby’s body which is still difficult to develop a strong defense mechanism to fight poisons and their immunity is still in the developmental stage.
Although many spirulina brands on the market have chemical-free certificates, we don’t know whether the claim is valid and we don’t have time to do laboratory tests to find out. Breastfeeding mothers are advised to avoid it and look for other alternatives that are safest, for example consuming lots of vegetables and fruits that contain lots of iron if you need additional iron.
The recommended dose for consuming spirulina
The recommended dosage for adults is 2-4 tablets, with a per tablet containing 500 mg per day. Other studies also suggest taking a daily dose of 1.4 g given at 7 months of gestation until giving birth to a baby showing good results during pregnancy. Spirulina is best taken while or after meals with 1 glass of water. If you want to consume spirulina to control your weight, it is advisable to consume it 30 minutes before eating because it can control your appetite.
Spirulina is not only used by adults, but malnourished children also consume it with recommendations from doctors. Generally, the recommended dose for children to consume spirulina is half the adult dose.
It is best not to consume excessively more than the recommended dosage because some reports can cause acidity, diarrhea, or upset stomach. To be safer, consult your doctor if you want to use spirulina supplements to know what dosage is right for you.
Side effects of consuming spirulina when pregnant
Side effects caused when consuming spirulina while pregnant still do not have clear data, but there are risks that must be understood for pregnant women when they want to consume spirulina supplements. Research on mice shows no adverse effects on pregnant mice that eat spirulina at appropriate dosages for their body weight while consuming in excessive doses can cause side effects in mother and child rats.
Spirulina has the risk of being contaminated with mercury and other heavy metals, as well as harmful bacteria that can harm pregnancy because it affects the nervous system and brain development. Spirulina is also not recommended for women who have autoimmune diseases such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis because the risk can be worse.
Spirulina that is contaminated with microcystin and anatoxin can cause heart muscle damage, kidney failure, nerve damage, inflammation of the pancreas, difficulty breathing, liver toxicity, and seizures. Spirulina that is contaminated with phenylalanine can also be dangerous for pregnant women and people with PKU (phenylketonuria).
Unborn babies suffering from PKU do not have the ability to break down phenylalanine, an amino acid, causing levels of phenylalanine to accumulate in the body and cause brain damage and are harmful to the central nervous system. Other effects of contaminated spirulina can also cause vomiting, weakness, nausea, abdominal pain, rapid heartbeat, and excessive thirst.
The possibility of contamination with mercury is a reason for health practitioners to provide recommendations to limit foods from the sea such as fish and others if you are pregnant. This also applies to the consumption of spirulina during pregnancy, making sure you get spirulina products that are free of contamination. Choose spirulina products that have been tested and certified to be free of contaminants, including microcystins. You should also consider the advice and recommendations of your obstetrician whether it is safe to take spirulina during pregnancy.
Other benefits of spirulina for health
In addition to providing benefits for pregnancy, spirulina also helps balance blood sugar and reduce HbA1c. Spirulina only contains 10-15% carbohydrate, and consuming it does not change insulin levels which makes it safe for diabetes-related infertility and people with PCOS.
Spirulina also contains a powerful antioxidant called phycocyanin to protect cell damage from free radicals. The antioxidant spirulina is even 4x stronger than the blueberry antioxidant when tested by the laboratory. Spirulina also helps reduce inflammation that causes nasal congestion, itching, and sneezing. Spirulina also contains chlorophyll which can boost the immune system and help eliminate toxins in the blood. The chlorophyll in spirulina is 200% more than barley grass or wheatgrass.
Not only does it eliminate toxins, but spirulina can also help remove heavy metals in the body such as arsenic toxicity and helps to bind to radioactive isotopes. The antioxidant spirulina also has benefits to increase endurance, fat burning, and reduce fatigue when exercising.
Spirulina which is high quality and not contaminated is a superfood with countless health benefits. The use of spirulina during pregnancy and breastfeeding is still being debated by medical professionals because of the difficulty of finding quality spirulina and free from contamination. The best choice for pregnant women who want to consume spirulina is to make sure that the spirulina product to be consumed has been tested and has a certificate free of contamination. Another thing that needs to be done is to consult with your doctor first to determine the benefits and risks that will be faced before determining the final decision to consume spirulina or not. While the use of spirulina during breastfeeding is recommended to avoid it and switch to natural ingredients such as vegetables, fruits and other foods that also have high nutrition for the health of nursing mothers.
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