(NaturalNews) Spirulina may help protect against the birth defect-inducing effects of toxic heavy metals such as cadmium, according to a study conducted by researchers from Mexico's National Polytechnic Institute and published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2011.
A prior study, published in the Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety journal in 2008, found that spirulina's antioxidant properties helped reduce the toxic effects of cadmium. In the 2011 study, researchers sought to see if spirulina could reduce birth defect rates. They administered cadmium to pregnant mice on the seventh day of gestation, and also supplemented some of the mice with spirulina on each gestation day from zero through 17.
The researchers found that spirulina doses of 125, 250 and 500 mg/kg significantly decreased the rates of cadmium-induced exencephaly, micrognathia and skeletal abnormalities. Lipid peroxidation, a marker of oxidative stress, significantly increased with cadmium exposure but significantly decreased with spirulina supplementation in a dose-dependent manner.
"The results of the present study clearly point to the therapeutic potential of Spirulina in Cd-induced teratogenicity and probably through its antioxidant activity," the researchers wrote.
Although spirulina has shown effectiveness at removing metals such as mercury from the body, its true power appears to lie in its high antioxidant power. Spirulina contains high levels of antioxidant vitamins C and E and beta-carotene and the antioxidant minerals copper, chromium, iron, manganese, selenium and zinc.
In addition, spirulina possesses several properties that seem to increase the effectiveness of antioxidants in the body. Research has shown that it protects vitamin C from losing its potency, and a study published in Phytotherapy Research in 2008 showed that spirulina actually reduced not just oxidative stress but the rate at which free radicals were generated during inflammatory processes in the body.
In line with the cadmium studies, a study published in the journal Food Chemical Toxicology in 2007 found that spirulina protects against oxidative stress induced by mercuric chloride.
Boosts health and energy
In addition to its high antioxidant content, spirulina also contains high levels of B vitamins, vitamin D and several essential minerals and fatty acids. It provides a complete protein and actually contains more protein by weight than soy or red meat. It has especially high levels of the amino acid L-tryptophan, which the body uses to synthesize the mood-regulating neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin.
In an intriguing finding that may be linked with spirulina's ability to remove toxins from the body, a study published in the Journal of Zhejiang University - SCIENCE B in 2005 found that live spirulina cells immersed in wastewater for seven days absorbed up to 74 percent of the lead present within the first 12 minutes. Overall, the maximum biosorption rate was 0.62 mg of lead per 100,000 live spirulina cells.
Spirulina has also been linked to healthier skin and hair, improved academic performance in schoolchildren, lower cholesterol, lower weight and increased energy. It helps improve the symptoms of allergies, anxiety, depression, fatigue, stress, premenstrual syndrome, arthritis and herpes. It helps the body fight infection, anemia and even cancer. Spirulina even seems to help prevent the harmful effects of radiation. All these benefits can come from doses as low as 2-3 grams per day.
Pregnant or breast-feeding women should use spirulina only under the supervision of a health care provider, however, and spirulina should be avoided by people with phenylketonuria or autoimmune disorders.
To learn more about the remarkable benefits of spirulina, visit the NaturalNews "SCIENCE" page on this amazing superfood (http://science.naturalnews.com) or download the free report "Super Foods for Optimum Health - Chlorella and Spirulina" at NaturalNews.com.