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Benefits of Algae

Algae are fast-growing, simple-structured, diverse group of unicellular-to-multicellular organisms with a wide range of ancestry.1 They are highly adaptable to a variety of environments. Their bioactive components can be found in pharmaceuticals, health care products, and cosmetics. Some of these compounds include polysaccharides, carotenoids, terpenes, and fatty acids.

Spirulina (Limnospira maxima, Sirenicapillariaceae, syn. Arthrospira maxima, Microcoleaceae) is a green microalga with an abundance of bioactive substances and nutrients.2 Spirulina has been studied clinically in the treatment of obesity, memory-related disorders, and high blood pressure. One spirulina extract, which demonstrated a high amount of phycocyanin, was shown to be safe regarding anti-coagulant markers and provide fast and strong relief from chronic pain.3 In a Korean randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial of the spirulina extract SM70EE (Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology; Jeju-si, Jeju Province, Korea), researchers assessed the cognitive benefits to 80 older adults who received 1 g of spirulina extract or placebo for 12 weeks. Results showed that SM70EE is safe and provided significant improvements in memory function in patients with mild cognitive impairment. Researchers also determined that continuous consumption may lead to increased memory function through improved visual memory and vocabulary. See HC 102241-701.

Chlorella (Chlorella vulgaris, Oocystaceae) is a one-celled freshwater green alga that is rich in fiber, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, unsaturated fatty acids, carotenoids, and protein including essential amino acids.4 A systematic review and meta-analysis of chlorella consumption on cholesterol was conducted and included 10 randomized controlled trials with a sample size of 539 adults. The authors determined that chlorella intake was related to a significant decrease in both total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, with no significant effects on high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides. According to the authors, the optimum chlorella dosage was < 1500 mg/d. See HC 052248-701.

Lori Glenn
HerbClip™ Managing Editor


1Dai N, Wang Q, Xu B, Chen H. Remarkable natural biological resource of algae for medical applications. Front Mar Sci. June 2022;9: 912924.

2Choi W-Y, Lee W-K, Kim T-H, et al. The effects of Spirulina maxima extract on memory improvement in those with mild cognitive impairment: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Nutrients. September 9, 2022;14(18):3714. doi: 10.3390/nu14183714.

3Jensen GS, Drapeau C, Lenninger M, Benson KF. Clinical safety of a high dose of phycocyanin-enriched aqueous extract from Arthrospira (spirulina) platensis: results from a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study with a focus on anticoagulant activity and platelet activation. J Med Food. 2016;19:645–653. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2015.0143.

4Sherafati N, Bideshki MV, Behzadi M, Mobarak S, Asadi M, Sadeghi O. Effect of supplementation with Chlorella vulgaris on lipid profile in adults: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Complement Ther Med. June 2022;66:102822. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2022.102822.