Spirulina is a biomass produced from blue and green algae, which is also consumed by humans and animals as a rich source of nutrients. Popularized worldwide as a dietary supplement in both powder and pressed tablet form, Spirulina is also fed to animals destined for commercial consumption, such as poultry. Spirulina, which is a naturally occurring salt-water algae, has abounded around the Earth for centuries and has been consumed by civilizations throughout history. Nutritionally, Spirulina is richer in protein than products such as soybeans, fish, and meat. Likewise, this algae super-food also contains large amounts of antioxidants; of beta-carotene; a full spectrum of carotenoids; eight essential amino acids; iron; vitamins A, E & B; potassium; enzymes; minerals; and phytonutrients. Moreover, Spirulina can help those who suffer from allergies, it also helps balance blood sugar, and it removes some heavy metals from the body. Nevertheless, because of Spirulina’s richness it should also be consumed in moderation, normally no more than a spoonful a day.
Spirulina and Algae Nutritional Supplements
Due to its rich nutritional value, Spirulina has been the subject of research by institutions such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and NASA for both combatting malnutrition worldwide and as a dietary supplement for space travelers. In order to commercialize Spirulina, the algae is first harvested in either an enclosed body of water (ponds) or in open water meshed-out spaces under certain specific conditions. Once the algae has matured, it is washed and prepared for dehydration or drying. There are several ways to dry and pulverize the Spirulina algae, amongst the most popular ways is flash drying the algae at high temperatures between two and eight seconds. This flash dry process usually eliminates any fatty acids in the algae without compromising its high nutritional value. Once the drying process is complete, the Spirulina is packaged as a powder, as a pressed tablet, or otherwise, and prepared for mass sale and distribution.
Today, one of the major producers of Spirulina in the United States is Hawaii, which is home to algae supplement producing companies such as Nutrex. In the case of Nutrex Hawaii, the company processes Spirulina algae with a patented Ocean Chill Drying technology right after harvesting. Other major Spirulina supplement producers are Earthrise Spirulina Natural Powder from California, BulkSupplements Pure Spirulina Powder from China, Now Foods Organic Spirulina Powder from India, and Healthforce Spirulina Azteca from Chile. In Latin America, some of the major Spirulina-producing countries are Chile, Mexico, and Peru.
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