Spirulina for Iron Deficiency Anemia

I am not a huge fan of the algae Spirulina. It has been questioned to potentially cause vitamin B12 deficiencies. From a Chinese Medicine perspective it would be good for someone that is robust as the Spirulina can be very cooling and cleansing.
The California company Cyanotech that manufactures a product called “Spirulina Pacifica” which you’ve probably seen at Whole Foods released a study looking at anemia in people 50 years or older. The abstract to the study can be found here. What is interesting is that they say it helped with anemia, but not the type of anemia. You had to read a bit further to understand that it is only for iron deficiency anemia (microcytic – small red blood cell size) , not a B12 deficiency anemia (macrocytic – large red blood cell size). Certainly an older population can have either type of anemia – however this Spirulina helped the iron deficient kind of anemia. This needs to be pointed out because people with a B12 or Folate deficiency causing anemia may take Spirulina and thereby worsen the anemia.
Now if someone had iron deficiency anemia then Spirulina would not be on my short list as an option for foods. Although Spirulina may be very nutritious and ‘cleansing’ there a better ways to address iron deficiency without taking some form of iron that upsets the GI tract or causes constipation.

(The other peculiar thing about this article is the title which says “Senior Citizens”, but they recruited people age 50 and older!)

Yours In Health,

George Mandler

Licensed Acupuncturist

Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist

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