Microalgae for health
Spirulina arthrospira platensis
Spirulina is a cyanobacterium, or blue-green algae, belonging to the Arthrospira genus. The most common species are Spirulina maxima and Arthrospira platensis.
Spirulina contains around 60% protein in dry form. It is particularly suitable for vegan or vegetarian diets. Low in calories, Spirulina has an interesting amount of fatty acids and is rich in iron, vitamins A and B12, and minerals. It has beneficial effects as a food, which have been scientifically recognized. It is a source of antioxidants, strengthens the immune system and improves the tone and vitality of the body.
Like all microalgae, Spirulina must however be considered with caution to ensure its quality. Cultivation must be managed with rigor and attention to detail in order to avoid the development of elements which are harmful to humans, such as heavy metals.
Spirulina is largely made up (80%) of hydrophilic elements: proteins, minerals, polysaccharides and water-soluble vitamins. Inside the cell, water is used to transport the majority of Spirulina metabolites and plays the role of natural support. Thus, water is fundamental to its survival and to the activities of most of its constituents. As a result, the drying of Spirulina eliminates most of this interior water, causing the death of the cell which can no longer ensure its vital functions. Drying therefore profoundly modifies the structure of Spirulina and its metabolites.
The Spirulina strain cultivated by AlgoSource is a referenced Arthrospira platensis. Over three decades, this strain has been cultivated season after season, respecting its natural life cycle. Every year, between November and March, the strain is kept at rest in the heart of the AlgoSource strain bank. Year after year, this culture-conservation method has permitted AlgoSource to gently select the best Spirulina strain, offering optimal qualities of resistance and production of its molecules of interest.
Starting in April, Spirulina is awakened by successive stages of volume increase. The strain goes from the laboratory beaker where it has remained “dormant” to increasingly large containers, before being cultivated in an open basin under a greenhouse. These pools, called raceways, make it possible to effectively capture the sun’s energy at a depth suited to its intensity. A paddle wheel ensures perpetual movement of the water and, thus, prevents stagnation or the deposit of Spirulina at the bottom of the basin.
Spirulina develops by photosynthesis and the greenhouse makes it possible to maintain a sufficient temperature for this organism, which appreciates temperatures of 20-35°C. Continuous monitoring of the culture medium also makes it possible to ensure, in real time, that the growing conditions and quality are as effective as possible.
Water quality is an essential factor for having Spirulina of good quality, since this alga has a natural tendency to absorb heavy metals. It is the central point of contingency that determines the perfect quality of biomass. By cultivating its own Spirulina biomass, AlgoSource maintains control over the environment, the quality of the elements necessary for cultivating the microalgae and its environmental impact.
Once harvested manually, the Spirulina biomass is pressed and immediately undergoes a step of deep-freezing. This step keeps all the freshness of the microalgae before proceeding with extraction of its main bioactive pigment: phycocyanin.
Spirulysat®, Spirulina liquid extract
Phycocyanin is the main pigment present in Spirulina, up to 20% of its weight. This large hydrophilic protein plays the role of capturing photons, then of transferring their energy to the photosynthetic system of the cell. It has the capacity to absorb orange and red light, in wavelengths close to 620 nm and to emit fluorescence at around 650nm. This means that phycocyanin is the core of Spirulina; it provides 10 times more energy than chlorophyll.
Spirulysat is an extract that has a high concentration of phycocyanins, to which are added polysaccharides, amino acids, etc. This very high-value complex is the flagship product of AlgoSource. Its nutraceutical and health properties make it a benchmark in the realm of deriving value from microalgae.
AlgoSource has developed a unique, patented, cold-water extraction process, without solvents or chemicals and in liquid form, phycocyanin from Spirulina. This liquid form contributes to faster and digestible assimilation by the body. By separating the fluorescent blue pigment from the proteins without increasing the temperature, AlgoSource recovers and protects the intrinsic properties of Spirulina in Spirulysat®.
A comparative experiment conducted using Spirulysat® in its standard, liquid form, and the same freeze-dried product made it possible to measure the impact of drying, even at low temperature, on phycocyanin: Spirulysat® liquid was found to be fifty times more effective in its antioxidant action on SOD (measurement of action on superoxide ion) than its dried version.
The dry versions of spirulina (powder, filaments, tablets) are, therefore, structurally less effective than the liquid extract, Spirulysat®, which does not cause the product to undergo any heat treatment.
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