A. flos-aquae is distributed in nutrient rich freshwater lakes throughout the world. Only Upper Klamath Lake in southern Oregon supports a vast, dominant colony of this species.
Protein, essential fatty acids, carbohydrate, vitamins (especially A&K), and minerals
Cyanobacteria-likely the founder of all eukaryotic life on earth- are essential to all life on earth by providing oxygen, sequestering carbon, and providing essential food resources at all levels of the food chain.Dubbed “Earth’s first food,” Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (commonly abbreviated AFA) is a species of cyanobacteria (blue-green microalgae), which are among the most ancient of all living organisms. For at least 3.5 billion years cyanobacteria have provided oxygen to the atmosphere and nutrients to the myriad varieties of life forms that inhabit Earth’s freshwater sources.
Cultivated as a reliable food resource for centuries by native cultures worldwide, algae is recognized as a legitimate nutritional powerhouse. With science increasingly documenting the many nutritional benefits of both freshwater and sea algae, the body of research continues to grow and the list of benefits is continually expanding. Of the many species of edible microalgae, Aphanizomenon flos-aquae is considered by experts to have superior characteristics and is , one of Earth’s most basic yet most potent sustainable foods. Aphanizomenon flos-aquae is the only wild harvested blue green algae on the market today. Part of its unique nutritional profile is a direct result of the unique environment it is harvested from on upper Klamath Lake in a volcanic-ash sediment basin rich in micronutrients and pristine spring-fed water. Today, blue-green algae from Klamath Lake is known as a “superfood” that:
• Biomodulates physical wellness for overall energy and performance
• Provides essential amino acids that nourish the brain and every system in the body
• Promotes enhanced absorption and assimilation of food nutrients*
• Supports cardiovascular health
• Supports a healthy digestive system
• Helps maintain normal cholesterol levels*
• Sustains healthy immune system function*
• Provides a natural source of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids*
• Offers a vast array of micronutrients in a convenient form
The nutritional profile of wild, organic blue-green microalgae is impressive. Not only does AFA contain all 20 amino acids, thus providing a complete source of protein, but it also contains essential fatty acids, as well as 13 necessary vitamins, 23 elements and trace elements, the mental energy activator phenylethylamine (PEA), and the vitally important antioxidant pigments phycocyanin and chlorophyll. In addition, AFA contains an ideal balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, complex sugars, and fiber. Few substances on Earth can boast such a complete, well-rounded and wholesome nutritional composition.
Years of extensive study finely document the many health benefits of AFA, and particularly of the strain produced abundantly in the ideal environment of Upper Klamath Lake in scenic Southern Oregon. It is this unique combination of a wide variety of essential nutrients in one source that makes organic Aphanizomenon flos-aquae such a logical choice for dietary supplementation. Ongoing research reveals an increased interest in the benefit of making microalgae-based food supplements a significant part of a balanced daily diet for health-conscious consumers.
Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) is one of most ancient super foods on earth and has been consumed as a dietary supplement for decades. Throughout the years AFA has been thoroughly researched to better understand and document the profound benefits on physical and mental health. There are thousands of personal testimonies of the benefits experienced when consuming AFA and there are also multiple scientific research articles to further confirm these positive results.
AFA studies have been conducted using various forms of the algae, including capsules and extracts and have had participants ranging from animals to children to adults. The variety included in the study design, format and participants helps to cover a larger spectrum and reveals the full range of AFA’s benefits. The benefits documented in this research range from improved immunity, to stem cell proliferation, to antioxidant properties and much more. Research shows (and personal testimonies confirm) that Aphanizomenon flos-aquae is a highly effective superfood that supplies a rich source of micronutrients, chlorophyll, vitamins, essential fatty acids and proteins providing important components of a healthy diet.
1. Study on the effects of super blue-green algae on the nutritional status and school performance of first, second and third grade children
Sevilla I, Aguirre N. The Nicaragua Report. Cell Tech; 1995.
Conclusion: Consuming an Aphanizomenon flos-aquae blue-green algae supplement improved the nutritional and academic status of children in Nicaragua.
Summary: Malnutrition affects a great number of children and families in Nicaragua. Over half of children deaths that occur in Nicaragua are due to malnourishment. The malnourishment of the children also cause problems in school including, being unable to focus, lack of attendance, participation and performance.
Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) is the species of blue-green algae used in this study. An informal study already showed that the blue-green algae improved the nutritional and academic status of children in Nicaragua. These positive results gave reason for some more formal research.
The children were given 1 gram of an AFA supplement everyday for six months. Their physical appearance, nutritional status, school attendance, behavior and academic performance were all recorded and observed throughout the study. After the six months was over the children greatly improved in all areas, while the control group children’s conditions worsened.
From this research it was concluded that blue-green algae supplementation can improve a child’s nutritional and health status, and improve academic performance, attendance, and participation in school.
Note: Malnutrition affects every aspect of a person’s life. When someone is malnourished they are not getting the proper amounts of nutrients and calories for maintaining good health. When a child is malnourished they are not getting the nutrients they need for proper growth and development and they lack the energy to excel in other areas, especially academically.
These children in Nicaragua are malnourished because they live in a poverty stricken area and they are starving or lacking a nutrient rich diet. Combine hunger with a lack of nutrients, and you have children that cannot concentrate, get sick more often and have troubles learning.
The blue-green algae AFA has many beneficial properties to offer children. It can provide energy, protein, essential fatty acids and vitamins. Besides that it has other beneficial properties, like antioxidant properties that can aide in maintaining good health. So for a person that is malnourished, an AFA supplement can make a huge difference in their nutritional status and overall well being.
2. Effects of blue-green algae extracts on the proliferation of human adult stem cells in vitro: a preliminary study
Shytle RD, Tan J, Ehrhart J, et al. Med Sci Monit. 2010; 16(1): BR1-5.
Conclusion: When Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) algae is combined with NT-020, proliferation and increased health of stem cells may occur.
Summary: As a person ages their stems cells aren’t as healthy and do not regenerate as well. The stem cells also become much more susceptible to oxidative stress. Stem cells are cells that have the potential to develop into many different types of cells in the body. They are found all over the body in many organs including bone marrow, peripheral blood, umbilical cord blood, spleen and more. Stem cells serve as a repair system for the body, so oxidation and reduction of stem cells results in a reduction in the body’s ability to heal itself.
NT-020 is a formulation that has previously been tested for its ability to proliferate adult stem cells. NT-020 is made up of blueberry extract, green tea extract, carnosine and vitamin D3. Like NT-020, AFA research indicates that it may also have the ability to proliferate adult stem cells. Water and ethanol extracts of whole or cellular AFA was used to study in vitro, AFA’s effect on adult stem cells. Various doses of AFA (0.0625 – 0.5 mg/mL) were tested alone and in combination with NT-020.
AFA, in high doses, alone had moderate results on the proliferation of adult stem cells. However, when a high dose of AFA was combined with NT-020 it increased the proliferation. The ethanol extract of cellular AFA had the best results. These results suggest that NT-020 combined with a high dose (0.5mg/mL) of ethanol extract of AFA may increase proliferation of stem cells.
Note: Stem cells are cells that can differentiate into different specialized cells. They also act as a repair system in various tissues. There are two types of stem cells, embryonic and adult stem cells. Embryonic stems cells are just that, stem cells from an embryo and adult stems cells are from adults.
The stem cells main role is to maintain and repair tissues and organs in which they are located. As a person ages, these stem cells do not regenerate as well and become oxidized. Oxidation is when a free radical steals an electron, stabilizing itself but in turn making the other cell an unstable free radical. If a stem cell is oxidized it can no longer do its job of repairing tissues.
Stem cells treatments are currently a hot topic in research. The embryonic stem cells are the center of the controversial stem cell research, since harvesting the cells often kills the embryo. In stem cell treatment healthy stem cells are used and introduced to damaged tissue, diseased areas or injury. This treatment has the potential to treat cancer, Parkinson’s disease, type II diabetes, Celiac disease, cardiac failure and more.
Stem cells are very important to our health and to the future of medicine. AFA extract has been shown to have the ability to increase stems cell proliferation and inhibit oxidation. So supplementation of AFA can be beneficial to those who are aging and losing the ability to regenerate and maintain the health of their stem cells.
3. Consumption of Aphanizomenon flos-aquae has rapid effects on the circulation and function of immune cells in humans
Jensen GS, Ginsberg DI, Huerta P, Citton M, Drapeau C. Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association. 2000; 2 (3): 50-58.
Conclusion: Aphanizomenon flos-aquae was found to aid in increased immune cell travel, leading to increased immune surveillance, but did not directly stimulate the immune system.
Summary: The immune cells humans have are the defense system against foreign invaders that can cause illness. There are several types of immune cells that can move throughout the body and into various cells in the body. Without enough immune cells a person wouldn’t be able to fight off the bacteria or viruses they come in contact with, making them vulnerable to illness. This study gave Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) algae to human subjects to test if it could have a positive effect on immune cell activity.
AFA algae contains phytochemicals, which are various chemical compounds that have demonstrated beneficial properties for humans. These phytochemicals can affect many parts of the body, including certain immune cell functions. To determine AFAs effect on immune cell, test subjects were given either 1.5 grams of the AFA supplement or a placebo (fake supplement) during the two day experiment. Blood samples were taken from the subjects to test for immune cell activation.
The results indicated that the subjects who received AFA had an overall increase in the number of immune cells in the blood. Those who consumed the AFA also had more adhesion molecules, which aid the immune cells in attaching to cells so that they can enter them. However the data did not support a direct effect of AFA on the immune cells because the results occurred too quickly. Instead the AFA may trigger communication to the brain, leading to the brain increasing the immune cell circulation in the blood. With this information they were able to determine that AFA can aid in immune cell trafficking but not direct activation of the immune cells. This increased traffic of immune cells leads to better surveillance and protection against invaders.
Note: Our immune cells are among some of the most important in our body. Without adequate amounts of these cells our bodies could not fight off illness and disease. When a new bacterium or virus invades our body, it has not yet developed the tools called antibodies to fight off that particular invader, and illness results. .
The immune cells need to be able to distinguish between invader cells and the body’s own healthy cells to function properly. When a person has an immune system that attacks its own healthy cells they have an autoimmune disorder. The immune system is also supposed to kill tumors but some tumors can avoid detection or inhibit the immune cells and eventually those can turn into cancer. There are also certain viruses such as HIV that cause immunodeficiency and make people much more vulnerable to infections and tumor growth.
AFA increased the movement of immune cells giving the body better surveillance for early detection and protection against viral or bacterial invaders. Early detection is important because pathogens can multiply very quickly and the immune cells need to begin fighting before the pathogen can multiply enough to cause illness or disease.
4. Effects of the blue-green algae Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (L.) Ralphs on human natural killer cells
Manoukian R, Citton M, Huerta P, et al. Phytoceuticals: Examining the health benefits and pharmaceutical properties of natural antioxidants and phytochemicals. Massachusetts: International Business Communications, Inc.; 1998.
Conclusion: Consumption of freeze-dried Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) algae resulted in a significant decrease of percent of natural killer (NK) cells in circulation two hours after consumption.
Summary: Natural killer cells are immune system cells. They are scavengers of cells infected with viruses and tumors and they kill them by programmed cell death. NK cells travels through the blood and will go to an infected area when signaled to do so. They are thought to carry out their functions in the spleen, lung and liver parenchyma, and uterine and gut mucosal linings. The usual way of measuring NK activity is by measuring levels in the blood or its ability to kill tumor cells in vitro (laboratory experiment). However since these cells are thought to carry out their functions within the tissues, these methods of measuring NK activity may not be accurate.
AFA has been shown to have protective effect in the AMES test, which is a test that measures the mutagenic potential of chemical compounds. The protective effect of AFA means that it prevented the mutation. It has also been shown that AFA does not have immunosuppressive effects, unlike other strains of blue-green algae. For this study, participants were given 1.5 grams of freeze-dried AFA and after their immune function parameters were measured.
The AFA had an almost immediate effect on blood lymphocytes. NK cells were reduced by 60% after AFA consumption. The mechanism behind this is not known but is most likely due to AFA inducing the migration of NK cells by activating their adhesion mechanisms. AFA also could have stimulated nerves in lymphoid tissues (tissues associated with immune function) and secretion of neuropeptides, affecting the recruitment of immune cells from circulation. Although the exact mechanisms are not known, this study could conclude that there was an increase in immune surveillance by NK cells after AFA consumption, which could lead to fewer colds and less viral infections.
Note: Immune cells are essential to human survival. Without these cells we would not be able to fight of illnesses or diseases. Natural killer cells are just one type of immune cell, which can seek out and kill cells taken over by foreign invaders. Immune cells are located throughout our bodies and when signaled they respond and move to the infected area.
Aphanizomenon flos-aquae can aid immune surveillance, making our immune system more effective. An immune system that can better monitor your body means a healthier life, as pathogens that our body comes into contact with every day can be fought off more quickly.
5. Bioregulatory and therapeutic effects of blue-green algae
Kumar K, Lakshmanan A, and Kannaiyan S. Indian Journal of Microbiology. 2003; 43 (1): 9-16.
Conclusion: Aphanizomenon flos-aquae has been found to have multiple beneficial properties including inhibiting tumor growth, mobilization of immune cells, reducing inflammation, and reducing cholesterol levels.
Summary: Blue-green algae has been used for decades. It is known to contain various vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and antioxidant components, along with other beneficial properties. Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) is one of the species of blue-green algae that is consumed as a dietary supplement and has been shown through scientific research to be a very beneficial supplement.
AFA contains a high concentration of phycocyanin (PC), which is the component that gives the algae its blue-green color. One study showed that PC inhibited tumor cell growth. In another study the PC was shown to inhibit an enzyme that is commonly expressed in breast cancer cells, inhibiting this enzyme reduces tumor growth. PC also acts as a free radical scavenger, which means that it is like an antioxidant and gets rid of free radicals that can harm the body.
The high amount of the omega-3 fatty acid in AFA helps prevent the formation of arachidonic acid, which causes inflammation in the body. Despite the high fatty acid content, AFA has been shown to decrease cholesterol levels. This is thought to be due to the chlorophyll content of the AFA but the exact mechanism is unknown.
AFA has also been shown to increase the circulation of our natural killer cells, which are immune response cells, that reject tumor cells and virus infected cells. Another benefit that has been briefly studied was that AFA has been shown to accelerate the recovery from mild traumatic brain injury.
Overall, AFA is a very beneficial all natural supplement. It is made up of a variety of nutrients that can aid in a various areas of the body by helping to prevent disease and improving already existing conditions.
Educational Note: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of the leading causes of death in America. High cholesterol and plaque build up from oxidized LDL are contributing factors to CVD. LDL cholesterol can become a free radical when it is oxidized. It then adds to the plaque in the arteries. AFA has not only been shown to lower cholesterol but it also has phycocyanin that acts as an antioxidant and eliminates free radicals. The phycocyanin found in AFA has also been shown to slow tumor growth, which may slow down the spread of some cancers.
Overall, the American diet is deficient in omega-3 fatty acids (FA). Americans typically consume a much higher omega-6 to omega-3 FA ratio. Omega-6 is a precursor to arachindonic acid (AA) which can cause inflammation in high amounts. The omega-3 in AFA can prevent the formation of AA as well as be a good supplement for an essential fatty acid (EFA) that Americans are lacking in their diet.
The immune system is extremely important to our health, without it our bodies would become very vulnerable to bacteria, viruses, and parasites. AFA has been shown to increase the circulation of our immune cells, which in turn means that our body has better surveillance against foreign invaders.
Overall, AFA is a remarkable type of microalgae. It can be used as a dietary supplement that is extremely beneficial to the human body and good health.
6. Primitive Stem Cells are Present in the Blood of Adult Equines and Increase with Moderate Exercise or Ingestion of the Cyanobacteria, Aphanizomenon Flos-Aquae
George W McCommon, Frank Lochner, Asa C Black Jr, and Henry E Young
Conclusion: The results of this study suggest that there is a normal contingence of circulating primitive epi-blast like stem cells, and blastomere-like stem cells in the blood of adult equines. Moderate exercise will increase the level of circulating primitive stem cells. Ingestion of AFA will lead to an increase in primitive stem cells in the blood of adult equines. These primitive stem cells can be increased by exercise, or consumption of AFA, and can be collected via venipuncture resulting in easier harvesting and less trauma and/or morbidity to the animal/equine population as opposed to biopsy from either bone or adipose tissue.
Summary: Commercially, “autologous adult mesenchymal stem cells are being used to treat a number of different musculoskeletal disorders in equines.” These mesenchymal stem cells are obtained from a variety of different body tissues, usually bone marrow and adipose tissue; however, the processing/harvesting of these cells is very painful and stressful to the animal. Once the cells are harvested, they are increased in vitro, then transfused intravenously into the animal. The cells then migrate to the site of tissue injury. The entire process is unwieldy, and the animal is subjected to potential infection, pain, trauma, and delayed healing at the injury site. There is a need for less invasive methods of increasing adult stem cells in equines.
Primitive stem cells have been discovered in the blood of adult animals such as rodents, pigs, and humans. The focus of this study was on the presence of primitive stem cells in the blood of adult equines.
Studies conducted by Stout et al examined the migration of stem cells into the blood from the connective tissues of skeletal muscle in pigs, following trauma. In this study trauma was defined as splenectomy followed by pancreatectomy. After 90 minutes of anesthetized trauma, the circulating level of primitive stem cells increased 23.5 times as compared to the baseline levels established prior to trauma.
Unpublished data form Young et al noted a 168% increase in the “levels of circulating primitive stem cells in human blood 90 minutes post ingestion” of Cyanobacter, specifically Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA).
“Four hypotheses were tested in this study: Primitive stem cells are present in the blood of adult equines; moderate exercise will increase levels of primitive stem cells in adult equine blood; ingestion of Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) will increase levels of primitive stem cells in adult equine blood; and primitive stem cells can be isolated from adult equine peripheral blood with less injury to the animal than that caused by their isolation from bone marrow or adipose tissue.”
Ten horses, three different breeds, were used in the study. The ages of the animals ranged form 5-20 years. “Moderate exercise” in this study was defined as 10 minutes of cantering, which is a gait that is slower than a gallop, and a bit smoother.
Blood (8ml) was obtained form the animals via venipuncture of the jugular vein immediately prior to, and 1 hour after exercising.
Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) was obtained form Stem Triton (Sea Change Therapeutics, Denver, CO). The dosage was defined as 1 gram (2 capsules, 500mg each). One gram (per dose) was fed to each animal.
Blood (8ml) was obtained form the animals via venipuncture of the jugular vein immediately prior to and 1 hour after ingestion of AFA, and then at 6 hours after ingestion. Two separate isolation procedures were employed, and a hemocytometer was used to count the cells. Primitive equine stem cells were identified by size and staining patterns. Two types of primitive stem cells were identified.
All horses had two types of “spherical entities” (primitive equine stem cells) within their blood prior to exercise and prior to ingestion of AFA—these were at average baseline levels. After exercise, and after ingestion of AFA, all horses demonstrated an increase in both types of spherical entity populations. An increase in population was experienced with either 10 minutes of exercise, or ingestion of 1 gram of AFA. Also, the Standard bred horses experienced an increase in stem cell numbers with increasing age of the horses, while the Quarter Horses experienced an increase in stem cell numbers that paralleled stress to the animal. All horses demonstrated an increase in number of both populations of primitive stem cells after ingesting AFA. Throughout the 6 hour time-frame, all horses experienced an increasing number of primitive stem cells.
Cells identified in this study demonstrated characteristics of primitive adult stem cells (Epiblast-like and blastomere-like). A study by Young et al previously identified these cells and they were shown to be located within adult skeletal muscle, bone marrow, adipose tissue and blood.
Very small spherical entities that stained positive were blastomere-like stem cells. These cells are able to differentiate into 66 of the 66 possible cell types (designated CD34-/CD663+).
In contrast, the larger spherical entities, epiblast-like, which were negative to the stain (CD34-/CD10+) will differentiate into 63 out of 66 possible cell types.
Limiting factors: Larger sample sizes “to explore the significance of age, exercise and ingested AFA on the numbers of circulating primitive stem cells in the blood of adult equines”; “Feasibility of using circulating primitive adult stem cells for restoration and/or repair of damaged tissues; and ascertaining whether heavy metals (arsenic, mercury, lead) are present in AFA, and what affects short or long term exposure to these chemical agents would have on the human body.”
Notes: Autologous cells are cells that are obtained form the same individual.
Mesenchymal cells are cells that are able to develop into cells of the circulatory and lymphatic systems as well as connective tissue.
Adipose tissue is fatty tissue.
A “blast” cell is a primitive undifferentiated cell.
A “blastomere” is a type of cell that is produced from the cleavage of a zygote after fertilization. Division of cells continues until a morula (mulberry) is formed—a collection of cells that appear mulberry-like with a central cavity. A “blastomere-like” cell is a cell that resembles a blastomere.
“Epiblast” pertains to the outermost cell layer of an embryo before it differentiates into the ectoderm and mesoderm. “Epiblast-like” refers to a cell/cells that resembles the epiblast cells.
7. Antioxidant and hepatoprotective activity of Aphanizomenon flos-aquae Linn against paracetamol intoxication in rats
Kuriakose GC, Kurup MG. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology. 2010; 48: 1123-1130.
Conclusion: The results of this study suggest an extract of AFA (Aphanizomenon flos-aquae) acts as an antioxidant against acetaminophen induced liver injury.
Summary: Paracetamol (generic: acetaminophen) causes liver injury at high doses. Liver injury in this study was demonstrated by higher liver enzymes and lower liver antioxidants. Ethanol extract of Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (EEAFA) reversed theses above effects.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) which cause oxidation are produced by cellular metabolism. These ROS play a role in many of the side effects of drugs as well as the development of many degenerative diseases. The modern treatment of the chronic liver diseases (viral hepatitis B/C, alcoholic liver disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and hepatocellular carcinoma) incur significant side effects and have limited efficacy.
Acetaminophen treated rats had decreased levels of the most common body antioxidants [Superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase, glutathione peroxidase, and glutathione transferase]. These rats also had higher levels of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances. This level is an index of lipid peroxidation, the damage caused by oxidative stress to the cell.
The study suggests EEAFA can counteract the effects of decreased antioxidant levels and cellular oxidative stress, acting as an antioxidant to protect the liver against acetaminophen toxicity. This liver protective effect may be due to the strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of phycocyanin pigment present in AFA and other yet to be discovered properties.
Note: High doses of acetaminophen, and rarely normal doses, can cause liver injury by hepatic necrosis (destruction of the liver tissue). Normal doses of acetaminophen can cause liver dysfunction. Just this year, the FDA has lowered the recommended safe dosages of acetaminophen. Acetaminophen is by far the most common cause of acute liver failure and second leading cause requiring the need for liver transplant. It is the most common cause of drug overdose.
Acetaminophen liver injury can be seen on routine blood chemistry through increased aspartate amino transferase (AST) and increased alanine aminotransferase (ALT). These labs literally indicate injury to the liver cell, which causes spilling of these enzymes outside the liver cell, and the enzymes eventually end up in the blood.
Antidotes for acetaminophen toxicity exist, but often they are ineffective because it is given too late after the toxicity occurs, as signs of acetaminophen toxicity may be absent or nonspecific.
Ethanol extracted AFA (EEAFA) has been shown to reverse many of the side effects of acetaminophen on the liver and appears to protect the liver form injury.
If one takes acetaminophen, taking AFA may provide good protection against many of its toxic effects.
8. Alteration of the gastrointestinal microbiota of mice by edible blue-green algae
Rasmussen HE, Martinez I, Lee JY, Walter J. Journal of Applied Microbiology. 2009; 107: 1108-1118.
Conclusion: Supplementation of Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) has been shown to have modest effects on the gut flora, which is the healthy bacterium that lives in our gastrointestinal tract.
Summary: There is a bacterial community that lives in our digestive tract. This community is essential to gut health and occurs naturally over time. The bacterium provides many benefits to humans such as preventing the growth of harmful pathogenic bacteria, training the immune system and producing vitamins.
AFA is a type of blue-green micro algae that is commonly consumed as a dietary supplement. It has already been shown to reduce cholesterol and have anti-oxidative effects and is now being tested to see if it can positively impact the gut flora. In this study a low fat feed supplemented with either 0% or 5% AFA was fed to mice. The other mice that didn’t receive the AFA supplemented diet were given feed supplemented with different species of blue-green algae. After 4 weeks the rats gut flora composition was evaluated.
The AFA had only a modest effect on the gut flora of the mice. The mice fed the AFA supplemented feed had a microbial community about 70% similar to that of the control. However, recent research has shown that even subtle changes in the microbial community can have an impact on the host traits. These results indicate that research on humans is needed to fully understand the impact blue-green algae has on human gut flora. Overall, this study found modest but positive results of the impact AFA has on the gastrointestinal tract microbial community.
Note: At birth we have a sterile gut, meaning we are not born with our gastrointestinal flora. However, rapidly after birth we begin to colonize bacteria in our gut. This bacterium that lives in our gut has a symbiotic relationship with us, meaning that both the microbes and the host benefit from each other.
This colony of several different types of bacterium provides many great benefits to humans. Without this we wouldn’t be able to utilize certain undigested carbohydrates (CHO) that reach our colon. The bacteria will ferment the leftover CHO and turn them into short chain fatty acids (SCFA). The SCFA can be used as fuel or aid in the absorption of vitamins and minerals.
The bacterium in the gut also inhibits the growth of pathogenic bacterium and promotes our immune system. They simulate the immune systems ability to recognize and fight foreign invaders.
Among these benefits the gut flora also plays a role in metabolizing dietary carcinogens, preventing allergies, preventing inflammatory bowel syndrome, and produce vitamin K, biotin and some hormones. Having an adequate and proper functioning gut flora is imperative to our health and supplementing with the blue-green algae Aphanizomenon flos-aquae can be a great way to ensure that your gut flora is functioning properly.
9. Evaluation of renoprotective effect of Aphanizomenon flos-aquae on cisplatin-induced renal dysfunction in rats
Kuriakose GC, Kurup MG. Renal Failure. 2008; 30: 717-725.
Conclusion: The results of this study suggest that the use of Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) algae can reduce the kidney damage that can occur from the use of the drug Cisplatin.
Summary: Cisplatin (CIS) is a chemotherapy drug, used to treat various malignant solid tumors. This drug can also have severe side effects including nephrotoxicity (kidney toxicity). Free radicals (the oxidants that cause damage to our body) play a crucial role in the development of CIS-induced kidney failure. This kidney failure is also closely associated with lipid peroxidation (oxidative damage to cells).
AFA contains a blue pigment called phycocyanin (PC) that has been known to have antioxidant properties. This study was designed to test AFA’s antioxidant power and renoprotective potential against CIS-induced oxidative stress and kidney dysfunction. The AFA algae was extracted using different solvents. These different extracts were tested in a pilot study to determine which extract had the highest antioxidant activity; the ethanol extract had the most activity and was selected for use in the study.
There were three different concentrations of the ethanol AFA extract (EEAFA), 25, 50 and 100 mg per kg of bodyweight, given to rats in different experimental groups. All the rats that received the EEAFA had outcomes that restored the kidney function to normal and minimized lipid peroxidation; these positive results were thought to be due to the antioxidant properties of phycocyanin (PC). From this data the study concluded that an ethanol extract of AFA has the ability to protect the kidney against damage and reduce lipid peroxidation caused by Cisplatin.
Note: Cisplatin is a chemotherapy drug that is used to treat various cancers. This drug can cause multiple side effects including kidney damage, which has a serious impact on the individual’s life . The kidney has several functions including, remove waste from the body, balance body fluids, release blood pressure regulating hormones and control the production of red blood cells. Damage to the kidneys can cause waste and fluid build up in the body as well as high blood pressure.
Often in the early stages kidney disease can successfully be treated. Careful monitoring and control of other conditions can help prevent the damage from getting worse. Chronic kidney disease is often treated with medications to slow the progression of the disease. When kidney disease progresses to kidney failure then dialysis or transplantation may be required. Dialysis can be a very debilitating process wherein the dialysis machine performs the kidney’s functions of cleansing the blood of toxins and uric acid several times per week. Transplantation is typically successful; however, it can take a long time to receive a new kidney for replacement.
10. Characterization of human monocyte activation by a water-soluble preparation of Aphanizomenon flos-aquae
Pugh N, Pasco DS. Phytomedicine. 2001; 8(6): 445-453.
Conclusion: Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) algae has been found to activate monocyte/macrophage function.
Summary: AFA has been reported to enhance immune function and immune surveillance of the body. This study examined how a water-soluble preparation of AFA would affect immune function in vitro (in a lab). In particular, the researchers were looking for how it affected the activation of monocytes. Monocytes are a type of white blood cell that plays multiple roles in the immune system.
AFA was tested to determine its ability to activate NF-kappa B and AP-1; these are proteins that activate the transcription (copying) of genes that are responsible for the immune system response, including monocytes. AFA’s ability to activate these substances was compared to some other known immune system stimulators, LPS (bacterial endotoxin), TPA (phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate) and INF-y (Interferon-gamma).
Each of the immune system stimulators were tested and compared to AFA’s ability to activate the transcription proteins. AFA had similar results as LPS; they both exhibited the same level of activation and activation activity. Both had similar results when each were combined with the two other substances (TPA or INF-y) and tested for the transcription proteins’ activation. When AFA was compared to TPN, it had a much higher activation rate of NF-kappa B and a lower rate for INF-y. The combination of INF-y and AFA had lower activation success than AFA alone.
AFA and the immune system stimulators were also used to test their effect on cytokine (cell signaling) proteins that stimulate the immune system. The effect AFA has on these proteins was similar to that of LPS. AFA and LPS have multiple similarities on their macrophage enhancing effects and it appears that AFA mediates the activation similarly to LPS.
It was concluded that in vitro AFA can be a strong activator of monocyte/macrophage function. These results show that AFA can be a beneficial supplement that can improve multiple aspects of immune function.
Note: NF-Kappa B and AP-1 are both proteins that are stimulated in response to cytokines, stress and bacterial and viral infections. These proteins are apart of the immune system response and a good indicator of when the immune system is being stimulated. They also aid in the multiplication of monocytes/macrophages, which are white blood cells that are stimulated by the immune system to fight foreign invaders.
Our immune system is important for maintaining good health and fighting off sickness. Aphanizomenon flos-aquae is a blue-green algae that has been studied and found to have properties that aid in immune system activity and surveillance. An AFA supplement can be beneficial to the immune system but to overall health in the prevention of illness and disease.
11. Isolation of three high molecular weight polysaccharide preparations with potent immunostimulatory activity from Spirulina platensis, Aphanizomenon flos-aquae, and Chlorella pyrenoidosa
Pugh N, Ross SA, ElSohly HN, ElSohly MA, Pasco DS. Planta Med. 2001; 67: 737-742.
Conclusion: The polysaccharides extracted from Aphanizomenon flos-aquae, Spirulina platensis and Chlorella pyrenoidosa are more active than those currently used for cancer immunotherapy.
Summary: Blue-green algae have been shown to enhance immune function in both animals and humans. Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) in particular has been reported to change immune cell trafficking and increase immune cell surveillance. To isolate the compounds in the algae, 70% ethanol was used for an extraction. This extraction turned the algae into purified polysaccharides (long carbohydrate chains); Immunon was the polysaccharide formed from AFA extraction.
After various laboratory tests were done, it was found that a smaller dose of Immunon was needed to create the same immunostimulatory response as a bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS). LPS is found on a type of bacteria that creates a strong immunostimulatory response in animals. It was also found that the mRNA (messenger RNA, which carries the DNA information to make a new strand of DNA) of substances that regulate the immune system had increased.
Other polysaccharides are already being used in the clinical setting to treat a variety of human cancers. There are four primary polysaccharides that are currently being used and their effectiveness was tested against the alga polysaccharides. They found that the alga polysaccharides were 1,000 times more active as an immunostimulant than those already being used.
The polysaccharides that have been made from the algae have been shown to positively affect the immune system, and did so more efficiently than other tested chemicals or methods. With all of this information, it was determined that successful development of these polysaccharides from algae will add to the arsenal of available agents for immunotherapy in the treatment of cancer and other infectious diseases.
Note: The immune system is a very important part of human health. Without it we would not have a defense mechanism to fight off foreign invaders like bacteria or viruses. It also plays a key role when someone has cancer. The immune system responds to infected tissue or tumors and attempts to kill them. However, when tumors go undetected then cancers spread more readily .
Aphanizomenon flos-aquae is a type of wild blue green algae that has shown very positive immunostimulatory and immunomodulating effects. It can help increase the immune system surveillance, which in turn can help our bodies detect illness faster and more efficiently. With AFA’s ability to enhance the immune system the body is enabled to fight viral and bacterial infections and detect cell mutations and potential cancerous cell changes more rapidly.
12. The effect of blue-green algae Aphanizomenon flos-aquae on nutrient assimilation in rats
Kushak R, Drapeau C, Winter H. Journal on Nutraceuticals and Nutrition (JANA). 2001; 3:35-39.
Conclusion: Low concentrations of Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) in the diet are associated with increased feed consumption and weight gain in rats. Amylase activity in the pancreas also increased with AFA consumption.
Summary: AFA is rich in protein, vitamins and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Numerous studies on blue-green algae have demonstrated that AFA has antiviral, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulating and enzyme-inhibiting properties.
Supplementation with AFA has shown to increase levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids and to decrease cholesterol and triglyceride levels. In addition, no detrimental effects have been shown in rats when fed large doses of AFA daily. However, the information from research on AFA algae is limited so this study tested AFA’s efficiency in animal nutrition and its role in nutrient absorption. Rats had their diets supplemented with various amounts of AFA. The rats’ feed consumption, visceral (organs) and body weight, enzyme levels, protein and glucose levels were evaluated.
The results showed that the rats with the lowest concentration of AFA in their diet consumed the most feed and had gained the most weight in both their bodies overall and in their liver and pancreas. The rat’s protein levels increased in the intestinal lining and liver. Amylase activity was the only enzyme activity that increased and aminopeptidase activity decreased with supplementation. Although there were minor positive results, there were no adverse effects. Therefore, due to AFA’s high nutritional content it was concluded that supplementation may increase the nutritional value of ones diet.
Note: Having a balanced diet and consuming all the necessary nutrients is very important for overall health. Without adequate amounts of all of the nutrients needed daily, deficiencies can develop, creating illness and disease. Often a deficiency is not detected until an individual is already sick. A healthy diet can also help prevent colds and illness by boosting the immune system, providing antioxidants and giving the body the energy it needs for vitality and overall health. .
AFA provides many nutrients including proteins, vitamins and fatty acids. The essential fatty acids that AFA contains are not only necessary for proper health and nervous system function, but are the omega-3 variety that most people lack in their diet. The study concludes that the nutrient profile of AFA shows great promise as a source of complete proteins, essential fatty acids (EFA), minerals and a broad spectrum of phytonutrients making it a rich source of vital nutrition for the whole body.
13. Antioxidant properties of a novel phycocyanin extract from the blue-green alga Aphanizomenon flos-aquae
Benedetti S, Benvenuti F, Pagliarani S, Francogli S, Scoglio S, Canestrari F. Life Sciences. 2004; 75: 2353-2362.
Conclusion: The phycocyanin protein found in Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) was found to have strong antioxidant properties, and could be helpful in treating conditions related to oxidative stress and inflammation.
Summary: AFA contains phycocyanin (PC), a blue pigment with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Antioxidants from natural sources have been shown to be more easily absorbed and used; therefore these natural antioxidants have a greater protective effect. This study used an AFA extract enriched with PC and studied the antioxidant properties in vitro (in the laboratory).
Red blood cells (RBC) were incubated with chemicals (AAPH and CuCl2) that induce oxidative stress and hemolysis (the rupturing of RBC). The AFA extract was then added and was able to slow down the hemolysis and reduce oxidative stress in a dose-dependent manner (the more concentrated the better the results).When the RBC was incubated with AAPH it also reduced the amount of a naturally occurring antioxidant called GSH (glutathione); the AFA extract was also able to delay the depletion of GSH. The involvement of the phycocyanin (PC ) pigment in these results was demonstrated by incubating the extract with each of the radical-inducing chemicals. The blue color from the PC slowly disappeared and the PC became less detectable, these results indicate a rapid oxidation of the PC caused by these chemicals.
This study suggests that the phycocyanin in AFA has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and that AFA can be helpful in fighting illness caused by oxidative stress and inflammation.
Note: Antioxidants are very helpful in protecting against oxidative stress. They are able to protect our cells against oxidation by becoming oxidized themselves, that is, they take the damage caused by free radicals so that our cells are spared that harm. When our bodies experience the harm caused by free radicals, the damaged cells can then cause inflammation.
Free radicals are unstable molecules that are missing an electron and will steal an electron from another cell to become stable. The cell that loses its electron now becomes damaged, causing a cascade effect. This continuing cycle can cause cell walls to break and tissue damage to occur, creating increased inflammation
Antioxidants donate their electrons to free radicals, so that our cells can remain undamaged. We have some naturally-occurring antioxidants in our bodies, but not enough to fully protect our cells. Aphanizomenon flos-aquae contains phycocyanin which is a protein that has demonstrated antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Supplementing with AFA can help reduce the effects of free radicals and inflammation.
14. Effect of a Klamath algae product (“AFA-B12”) on blood levels of vitamin B12 and homocysteine in vegan subjects: a pilot study
Baroni L, Scoglio S, Benedetti S, Bonetto C, Pagliarani S, Benedetti Y, Rocchi M, Canestrari F. International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research. 2009 Mar;79(2):117-23. doi: 10.1024/0300-98126.96.36.199.
Conclusion: In this study, Klamath Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) appears to be an adequate and reliable source of vitamin B12 in humans.
Summary: It is thought the plant-based (vegan) diet is deficient in vitamin B12. In addition, even if the vegan product contains vitamin B12, it may be found in a biologically inactive form, from which a human cannot derive benefit. Spirulina has been shown to contain mainly inactive vitamin B12. Research on Chlorella is inconclusive. AFA in a wild a food and contains a relatively very high vitamin B12 level versus Spirulina and Chlorella. Laboratory testing suggests that Klamath AFA can deliver adequate active vitamin B12. It was postulated by the study authors that AFA could deliver adequate amounts of active vitamin B12 to human vegans.
Vitamin B12 levels measured in the blood can represent active and inactive forms. In addition, blood vitamin B12 levels may not represent the absorption and utilization of active B12 by the cells. Therefore blood vitamin B12 can be unreliable.
Because active vitamin B12 is necessary to convert the amino acid homocysteine to the amino acid methionine, we can use homocysteine levels to accurately measure the function of vitamin B12 in the body.
In vegans, when vitamin B12 levels are inadequate, homocysteine rises. This study, which demonstrated decreased blood homocysteine levels, showed an improvement in the function of vitamin B12 in more than 90% of patients.
Note: Getting adequate vitamin B12 is difficult for portions of the general population, and is particularly challenging for most vegans. In this study, AFA increased the utilization of active B12 in vegans.
Active vitamin B 12 is essential in DNA synthesis. The DNA is the basic building block of all our cells. Inadequate active vitamin B 12 is manifested by an increased homocysteine. Why is this important?
Homocysteine is an amino acid which is toxic to the body in higher than normal amounts. In the brain it can cause memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. Elevated homocysteine is much more predictive than elevated cholesterol as a known heart disease risk factor. Elevated homocysteine can cause defective bone formation.
Getting adequate active vitamin B 12 into the body’s cells can lower homocysteine levels, and therefore lower the risk of heart disease, the number one killer in the US. In can also lower the risk of brain dysfunction and lower the risk of fractures due to osteoporosis.
Klamath AFA was shown in this study to decrease blood homocysteine.
Homocysteine levels can be easily measured in the blood by your doctor.
15. Oxygen radical absorbance capacity of phycocyanin and phycocyanobilin from the food supplement Aphanizomenon flos-aquae
Benedetti S, Benvenuti F, Scoglio S, and Canestrari. Journal of Medicinal Food. 2010; 13 (1): 223-227.
Conclusion: The oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) value for the phycocyanin (PC) and phycocyanobilin (PCB), derived from Aphanizomenon flos-aquae, were both considerably higher than the tested pure antioxidant materials.
Summary: Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) is a microalgae that is rich in PC and PCB. PC and PCB are pigments within the AFA that also has strong antioxidant activity. These substances have been tested in vitro for their antioxidant activity, however they have never been tested using the ORAC assay.
The ORAC assay is a test that specifically measures the capacity of a substance to scavenge for radicals. A radical is a substance that has had an electron or hydrogen molecule stolen from it, making it unstable. This process is known as oxidation. These radicals can cause a chain reaction that can lead to damage or death of a cell. Antioxidants help by removing the radicals and preventing more oxidation reactions. The ORAC assay is used to test the ability of an antioxidant to balance free radicals thus making the radicals stable again.
The PC and PCB derived from AFA was tested against other well known pure antioxidants such as Trolox, ascorbic acid, and reduced glutathione. After testing all of the substances using the ORAC assay it was found that the PC and PCB had by far the highest ORAC values. With these results, the use of AFA as a dietary supplement can be supported as a helpful antioxidant and used for aiding in the treatment of oxidative stress.
Note: Oxidative stress is not something you can avoid completely. It can be caused from a variety of different things such as: dietary factors (deficiencies in Vitamin E or C), inflammation, smoking, pollution and your own metabolism. With oxidative stress, free radicals form.
Oxidative stress is the suspect to many neurodegenerative diseases such as Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and Huntington’s disease. It can also play a role in cardiovascular disease due to the oxidization of LDL cholesterol, which is a precursor to plaque formation.
Taking antioxidant supplements can help prevent damage to your body and possibly prevent certain diseases. Aphanizomenon flos-aquae is a great source of PC and PCB which have been proven in multiple different methods, including ORAC, to be strong antioxidants.
16. Blue-green algae as an immuno-enhancer and biomodulator
Jenson GS, Ginsberg DI, Drapeau C. Journal on Nutraceuticals and Nutrition (JANA). 2001; 3: 24-30.
Conclusion: Data suggests that blue-green algae have immuno-enhancing properties that can be used in the treatment of various diseases.
Summary: This article was a review of many other research articles that studied the beneficial properties of blue-green algae. The review articles demonstrated various benefits found from research, including its effects on immunity, therapeutic effects on metabolism, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-cancer effects.
Due to the phycocyanin (a blue pigment) content in blue-green algae, all blue-green algae can carry some of the same benefits. These include: anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, reduced tissue damage, and hepatoprotective (liver protection) effect. PC is a component in all blue-green algae, but the content in each strain varies. Other components, phytochemicals or chemical properties also vary due to the growing environment, making some of the benefits differ between strains.
Various blue-green algae research was reviewed for this article, which included a variety of blue-green algae strains. Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) is one strain of blue-green algae often studied. The research data showed that AFA increased the activation and mobilization of immune cells, therefore giving our bodies better surveillance and protection. The polysaccharides in AFA were found to stimulate macrophage (white blood cells that attack and destroy bacterial and viral invaders) activity.
The data also demonstrated AFA’s ability to alter fatty acid levels due to its high omega-3 fatty acid content. This lowers the arachidonic acid (a fatty acid), which can cause inflammation if too much builds up in the body. AFA was also shown to lower blood cholesterol levels. Besides AFA altering lipid metabolism, it has also been shown to affect sugar metabolism, resulting in a lowering of blood glucose levels.
The data presented demonstrates that blue-green algae is a highly beneficial product. It can help in treating suppressed immune systems or inappropriate immune responses as well as offer multiple other biological benefits to the human body.
Note: The immune system is one of the most important functions to maintain in our bodies. Many health problems are a result of a malfunctioning or weak immune system. Our bodies need a proper functioning immune system to fight off contaminants and to control those bacteria and viruses that already live in our bodies. When our immune system fails sickness and disease result. Once this occurs both the immune system and the body can be compromised.
Research has shown that there are many benefits that can be offered from blue-green algae. Aphanizomenon flos-aquae can stimulate the immune system and serve as a preventative tool against illness and disease. Besides aiding the body’s immune functions, AFA offers many other benefits as a supplement for maintaining good health. Reducing inflammation, cholesterol and blood glucose are just some of the other beneficial properties of AFA.
17. A randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover clinical trial of super blue-green algae in patients with essential blepharospasm or Meige Syndrome
Vitale S, Miller NR, Mejico LJ, et al. American Journal of Ophthalmology. 2004; 138:18-32.
Conclusion: Significant statistical evidence that Super Blue Green Algae (SBGA) aided in the treatment of blepharospasm or Meige Syndrome was not present, however SBGA supplementation did have positive results for some. [Note: SBGA is a past trade name of Aphanizomenon flos-aquae.]
Summary: Blepharospasm is a condition in which a person has no control over the twitch of their eye; this can become chronic and persistent and can affect lifestyle. Meige Syndrome is a more serious version of Blepharospasm that affects the whole face, mainly the eyes and mouth. It can affect speech, eating, and drinking, cause pain, and harm a person’s personal life. Neither condition is curable; both are typically treated with an injection of Botox to can calm the spasms.
SBGA (Aphanizomenon flos-aquae, or AFA) has been found to have many beneficial properties and has been cited as being helpful with eyelid and facial spasms. This is of particular interest, since Botox injections don’t last long and can be painful and expensive. Patients with blepharospasm or Meige Syndrome were randomly given either an AFA supplement or placebo for six months, and then had a six-month washout period, followed by another six months on the other treatment.
No significant statistical evidence supporting the use of SBGA was found in this study. It was found that whichever treatment the patients started off with (placebo or AFA) they did better with. This is possibly due to a patient bias, meaning that the patient wanted to experience positive results so they assume that the first substance they were given was the “active” (AFA) substance. However, there were a few patients who did show a definite improvement in their condition, so while the SBGA did not have definitive positive effects, it did not have any negative effects, either.
Note: Blepharospasm and Meige Syndrome are very difficult conditions to deal with, especially from a social aspect. Blepharospasm is typically associated with excessive blinking and spasming of the eyes, uncontrollable twitching of the eyes and sensitivity to light. Meige Syndrome combines blepharospasm with a oromandibular (affecting mouth, jaw and tongue) dystonia (neurological movement disorder). The dystonia in Meige Syndrome is often associated with protrusion of the tongue, grinding of the teeth, jaw pain, difficulty eating, drinking and speaking, spasms of the jaw opening and more.
These conditions cannot be cured and if left untreated can greatly affect a person’s life. The most effective treatment for these conditions currently is an injection of botulinum toxin A, also known as Botox. These injections do not last very long and patients have to come in for injections every few months which can not only be painful but become very expensive. Alternative methods are being researched and Aphanizomenon flos-aquae supplementation was evaluated. Unfortunately there is no evidence that this supplement helps, but as no harmful side-effects were found, there is no harm in trying this course of action.
Aphanizomenon flos-aquae: Components and Benefits
Chlorophyll is a natural phytochemical that gives plants its green pigment. Research has demonstrated that chlorophyll can prevent and reduce the damage from carcinogenic substances, including damage to DNA. It has also been shown to have antioxidant effect against damage induced by carcinogens and therapeutic effects when used in combating certain cancers.
For more information:
• Jubert C, Mata J, Bench G, et al. Effects of chlorophyll and chlorophyllin on low-dose aflatoxin B1 pharmacokinetics in human volunteers. Cancer Prev Res [Serial online]. 2009; 2: 1015-1022. http://cancerprevres.aacrjournals.org/content/2/12/1015.full.pdf
Phycocyanin is a blue pigment found in blue green algae that works in conjunction with chlorophyll. It occurs naturally in cyanobacteria or blue-green algae such as Aphanizomenon flos-aquae. Research has demonstrated that phycocyanin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
For more information:
• Ou Y, Zheng S, Lin L, Jiang Q, and Yang X. Protective effect of C-phycocyanin against carbon tetrachloride-induced hepatocyte damage in vitro and in vivo. Chem. Biol. Interact. [Serial online]. 2010; 185(2): 94-100. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20227401
• Benedetti S, et al. Antioxidant properties of a novel phycocyanin extract from the blue-green alga Aphanizomenon flos-aquae. Life Sci. [Serial online]. 2004; 75(19): 2353-2362. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15350832
ß-Carotene is a red-orange-yellow fat-soluble pigment that is a part of the carotenoid family. It’s most important function is acting as a pro-vitamin to vitamin A, meaning that it gets converted to vitamin A in the body. It is also converted to retinol, a form of vitamin A, which is essential to vision. Beta-carotene is also known to have antioxidant properties.
Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin that is essential for good health, vision and strong immunity, gene expression, reproduction, cell growth & differentiation, and GI health.
For more information:
• Grune T, et al. ß-carotene is an important vitamin A source for humans. J. Nutr. [Serial online]. 2010; 140: 2268S-2285S. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/140/12/2268S.full.pdf
• Kim Y, Seo JH, and Kim H. ß-carotene and lutein inhibit hydrogen peroxide-induced activation of NF-KB and IL-8 expression in gastric epithelial AGS cells. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol [Serial online]. 2011; 57: 216-223. http://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jnsv/57/3/216/_pdf
• Mayo-Wilson E, et al. Vitamin A supplements for preventing mortality, illness, and blindness in children aged under 5: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ [Serial online]. 2011; 343: d5094. http://www.bmj.com/content/343/bmj.d5094
Canthaxanthin is a carotenoid pigment found in nature. It is used to reduce sensitivity to sunlight in those who have the genetic disorder or for those who take medication that increases sensitivity. It cannot be converted to vitamin A but it is still being researched and is thought to have many of the same properties as other carotenoids.
For more information:
• Chew BP and Park JS. Carotenoid action on the immune response. J. Nutr. [Serial online]. 2004; 134(1): 2575-2615. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/134/1/257S.long#abstract-1
• Chew BP, Park JS, Wong MW, and Wong TS. A comparison of the anticancer activities of dietary beta-carotene, canthaxanthin and astaxanthin in mice in vivo. Anticancer Res. [Serial online]. 1999; 19(3A): 1849-1853. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10470126?dopt=Abstract
Fatty Acid (n-3)
The omega-3 fatty acid (FA) is a healthy and essential type of fat. Currently most people are not consuming enough of this type of FA. Omega-3 is an essential nutrient for the brain and nervous system, studies suggest Omega-3’s benefit mood and depression, helps regulate blood triglyceride levels, lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease, , aids in joint pain, reduces inflammation and is essential for cognitive health. It also is very important for prenatal health due to its important role in visual and neurological development in infants. Consuming adequate amounts of omega-3 is also important for maintaining the balance between omega-3 and omega-6 FA. Too much omega-6 can be harmful to the body, and omega-3 is known to counteract the negative side effects that can result from excess omega-6.
For more information:
• Simopoulos AP. Omega-3 fatty acids in inflammation and autoimmune diseases. J Am Coll Nutr [Serial online]. 2002; 21(6): 495-505. http://www.jacn.org/content/21/6/495.long
• Jicha GA and Markesbery WR. Omega-3 fatty acids: potential role in the management of early Alzheimer’s disease. Clin Interv Aging [Serial online]. 2010; 5: 45-61. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2854051/?tool=pubmed – __sec8
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. There are twenty different amino acids that arrange in different patterns to form various proteins. Proteins are essential to the body and they are crucial to all cell function. They have many roles including, acting as an enzyme, cell signaling, structure, hormones, transport, storage and antibodies.
PEA is a derivative of the amino acid phenylalanine. Studies suggest that PEA regulates neurons and transmits signals between neurons in the central nervous system. It is currently being marketed as a supplement to help people enhance mood, focus and reduce stress.
For more information:
• Zhou G, Shoji H, Yamada S, and Matsuishi T. Decreased ß-phenylethylamine in CSF in Parkinson’s disease. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry [Serial online]. 1997; 63: 754-758. http://jnnp.bmj.com/content/63/6/754.full.pdf+html
• Gillis, Michelle. Phenylethylamine: More than just a pea-sized neurochemical. BioConcepts Nutritional News. http://www.neuroconcepts.memberlodge.org/resources/Documents/Phenylethylamine-More Than Just A Pea-Sized Neurochemical.pdf
Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that plays a key role in the function of the brain and nervous system and blood formation. It is involved in cell metabolism, and helps synthesize DNA and fatty acids, aids in energy production and prevents different types of anemia. Homocysteine, an amino acid, is associated with heart disease when elevated in the blood.; A group of B vitamins (including B12) has been shown to lower homocysteine levels, therefore lowering the risk of heart disease.
For more information:
• Smith AD, et al. Homocysteine-lowering by B vitamins slows the rate of accelerated brain atrophy in mild cognitive impairment: A randomized controlled trial. PLoS One [Serial online]. 2010; 5(9): e12244. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2935890/?tool=pubmed – s4
• Satyanarayana A, et al. Status of B-vitamins and homocysteine in diabetic retinopathy: Association with vitamin B12 deficiency and hyperhomocysteinemia. PLoS One [Serial online]. 2011; 6(11): e26747. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3206053/?tool=pubmed
Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin produced by the natural bacterial flora in our intestines. However the production that occurs in the human body is not enough to sustain us, so vitamin K must also be consumed in the diet. Vitamin K is most known for its important role in blood coagulation. It has recently been found that vitamin K plays a role in bone metabolism and in a chemical reaction that aids calcium movement and absorption.
For more information:
• Vermeer C. Vitamin K: the effect on healthy beyond coagulation: An overview. Food Nutr. Res. [Serial online]. 2012; 56: 10.3402/fnr.v56i0.5329. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3321262/?tool=pubmed
• Je SH, et al. Vitamin K supplement along with vitamin D and calcium reduced serum concentration of undercarboxylated osteocalcin while increasing bone mineral density in Korean postmenopausal women over sixty years old. J Korean Med Sci [Serial online]. 2011; 26: 1093-1096. http://www.jkms.org/Synapse/Data/PDFData/0063JKMS/jkms-26-1093.pdf
Nucleic Acids Nucleic acids are essential to life and include Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and Ribonucleic acid (RNA). Their main functions are encoding, transmitting and expressing genetic information. DNA is the genetic makeup of all living things, and makes up our genes that determine each living organisms unique characteristics. There are several types of RNA and they work on converting the genetic information into proteins.
A variety of trace minerals are found in Aphanizomenon flos-aquae. All of the minerals offer a variety of benefits that are essential to good health.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, which is essential to bone structure and function; most of the calcium in our bodies is used for bone health. A small percentage of calcium is also used in the body for vasodilatation (widening of blood vessels) and vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels), which helps blood vessels move blood throughout the body. It is also important to intercellular signaling, muscle function, nerves carrying messages, and releasing hormones and enzymes.
For more information:
• Van Mierlo LAJ, et al. Blood pressure response to calcium supplementation: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Human Hypertension [Serial online]. 2006; 20: 571-580. http://www.nature.com/jhh/journal/v20/n8/pdf/1002038a.pdf
• Hofmeyr GJ, Lawrie TA, Atallah AN, and Duley L. Calcium supplementation during pregnancy for preventing hypertensive disorders and related problems. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews [Serial online], 2010, Issue 8. Art. No.: CD001058. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001059.pub3. http://apps.who.int/rhl/reviews/CD001059.pdf
Chloride is an essential electrolyte (often attached to sodium to make salt) that maintains the acid/base balance, aids in the transmission of nerves impulses and regulates fluid movement in and out of cells. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002417.htm
Chromium is a mineral that is needed in trace amounts. It is known to enhance the action of insulin, which is a hormone involved in metabolism and glucose uptake in cells. Chromium supplements are currently being researched for its ability to treat diabetes, lower blood lipid levels, promote weight loss and improve body composition.
For more information:
• Sharma S, et al. Beneficial effect of chromium supplementation on glucose, HbA1C and lipid variables in individuals with newly onset type-2 diabetes. J Trace Elem Med Biol [Serial online]. 2011; 25(3): 149-153. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21570271
Copper is an important trace mineral that has been found to aid in energy production, to be essential to several enzymes, iron metabolism, important to several reactions in the central nervous system, and has antioxidant functions.
For more information:
• Schlief ML, Craig A M, and Gitlin JD. NMDA receptor activation mediates copper homeostasis in hippocampal neurons. J. Neurosci. [Serial online]. 2005; 25(1): 239-246. http://www.jneurosci.org/content/25/1/239.full.pdf
Iron is an essential element in both the earth’s crust and the human body. It is an integral component of many proteins and enzymes that are necessary for good health. It is a component of the proteins that are involved in oxygen transport and is most abundant in hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells, which carries oxygen in the blood. Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies and can eventually lead to iron deficiency anemia. Deficiency can cause weakness, fatigue, poor pregnancy outcomes, impaired cognitive development/intellectual performance and impaired host-defense. Iron is an essential ingredient in fetal development and deficiencies create a broad spectrum of developmental problems.
For more information:
• Fretham SJB, et al. The role of iron in learning and memory. Adv. Nutr. [Serial online]. 2011; 2(2): 112-121. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3065765/?tool=pubmed – __secid3304770
Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in the body and is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. Some of its functions are to maintain normal muscle and nerve function, support a healthy immune system, regulate blood sugar levels, and promotes normal blood pressure just to name a few.
For more information:
• Kass L, Weekes J, and Carpenter L. Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis. EJCN [Serial online]. 2012; 66: 411-418. http://www.nature.com/ejcn/journal/v66/n4/full/ejcn20124a.html
• Chiuve SE, Korngold EC, Januzzi JL, Gantzer ML, and Albert CM. Plasma and dietary magnesium and risk of sudden cardiac death in women. Am J Clin Nutr [Serial online]. 2011; 93(2): 253-260. http://www.ajcn.org/content/93/2/253.full.pdf+html?sid=3b5ba77e-aa4b-45d5-bd1a-c3a14fd631e2
Manganese is a nutritionally essential mineral that has several functions including acting as an antioxidant enzyme (manganese superoxide dismutase), activating enzymes in metabolism, is a cofactor of enzymes that are needed for bone health, and activating enzymes for wound healing.
For more information:
• Holley AK, Bakthavatchalu V, Velez-Roman JM, and St. Clair DK. Manganese superoxide dismutase: Guardian of the powerhouse. Int J Mol Sci [Serial online]. 2011; 12(10): 7114-7162. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3211030/?tool=pubmed
Phosphorus is an essential mineral component of bone (calcium phosphate salt – hydroxyapatite), cell membranes (phospholipids), and nucleic acids (contain phosphate group). Phosphorylation, the transfer of phosphate groups, is needed to activate many compounds including enzymes, hormones and cell-signaling molecules. Energy production and storage is also dependant on phosphorylated compounds (i.e. ATP).
Potassium is a very important mineral that has a role in the proper function of all cells, tissues and organs in the body. It is important to heart function, muscle contraction which is important for digestive and muscular function, and neuron function. It is also an electrolyte, and aids in fluid balance, filtration and excretion of toxins in the body.
For more information:
• He FJ, Markandu ND, Coltart R, Barron J, and MacGregor GA. Effect of short-term supplementation of potassium chloride and potassium citrate on blood pressure in hypertensives. Hypertension [Serial online]. 2005; 45: 571-574. http://hyper.ahajournals.org/content/45/4/571.full.pdf
Sodium is an important electrolyte that is the primary nutrient that affects fluid balance among cells, especially extracellular fluid. This gives it a key role in blood pressure and blood volume. Sodium’s role as an electrolyte is also important for maintaining fluid balance during exercise. It also works with potassium in controlling membrane potential, which is important for nerve impulse transmission, muscle contraction and cardiac function. Sodium also aids in the absorption of nutrients in the small intestines.
For more information:
• Sharp RL. Role of sodium in fluid homeostasis with exercise. J Am Coll Nutr [Serial online]. 2006; 25(3): 231S-239S. http://www.jacn.org/content/25/suppl_3/231S.long
Zinc is a nutrient that aids the immune system and is needed to make proteins and DNA. It is important to the structure of proteins and cell membranes as well as increasing the speed of enzymatic reactions. Zinc is also needed for proper growth and development, wound healing and proper taste and smell.
• Klaus-Helge and Rink L. Zinc: altered immune function. J. Nutr. [Serial online]. 2003; 133: 1452S-1456S. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/133/5/1452S.full.pdf
• Hambidge M. Human zinc deficiency. J. Nutr. [Serial online]. 2000; 130(5): 1344S-1349S. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/130/5/1344S.full.pdf
• Frederickson CJ, Won Suh S, Silva D, Frederickson CJ, and Thompson RB. Importance of zinc in the central nervous system: The zinc-containing neuron. J. Nutr. [Serial online]. 2000; 130(5): 1471S-1483S. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/130/5/1471S.full.pdf
Other good websites to visit for information about vitamins and minerals:
• Dietary Supplement Fact Sheets. Office of Dietary Supplements National Institutes of Health Website. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/list-all/. Accessed April 2012.
• Micronutrient Information Center. Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Research for Optimum Health (Oregon State University) Website. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/minerals.html. Accessed April 2012.
The first organism to produce oxygen on Earth was a cyanobacterium known today as Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (commonly abbreviated AFA), or blue-green microalgae. This astonishing nutrient-rich organism is able, in the right environment, to use the sun’s energy to digest water and carbon dioxide and then release free oxygen into the air, thus performing the miracle of photosynthesis. Although found worldwide, the most commercially viable AFA source is Upper Klamath Lake in southern Oregon. In fact, Upper Klamath Lake is one of only a few ecosystems on Earth that are able to support the recurrent growth of AFA in mass quantities.
Nestled in the snow-capped Cascade Mountains, fed by a network of pristine mountain streams and springs, and anchored in deep volcanic soil, Upper Klamath Lake is one of nature’s greatest depositories of the edible microalgae called AFA. An exceptionally productive body of water and the largest natural lake in Oregon, Upper Klamath Lake is marked by an abundance of plant life, making it one of nature’s most prolific nutritional resources. It is this unique and healthy environment that allows Aphanizomenon flos-aquae to flourish in the wild.
Upper Klamath Lake is nearly thirty miles long and up to eight miles wide, with an average depth of about eight feet and isolated spots dipping to nearly fifty feet. Covering approximately 125 square miles, the lake is constantly replenished by pure creeks, natural springs, and two major snow-fed rivers, the Wood and the Williamson. The ecosystem of southern Oregon includes Crater Lake, the caldera (basin) of the former Mt. Mazama, which exploded about 7,000 years ago in one of the most violent volcanic eruptions in the North America, spewing volcanic ash to a depth of over 100 feet in the immediate Klamath basin and creating a deep base of volcanic soil that supplies an abundance of minerals and other nutrients to nourish the AFA that proliferates in Upper Klamath Lake.
The mineral-rich water from Crater Lake has also been found to be the source of hundreds of underground springs that feed directly into Klamath Lake and the Klamath basin making it some of the most nutrient dense fresh water in the world. The Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, home to many protected avian species and other wildlife, sits along the northern edge of the lake. Surrounded on all sides by mountainous terrain and with the picturesque town of Klamath Falls downstream, the lake is naturally isolated. Seventy percent of the total watershed of the area that includes Upper Klamath Lake is under federal guardianship, thereby affording another layer of protection.
In an age of rapidly acidifying lakes and streams, this secluded environment not only shelters the lake but it also promotes a consistent richly alkaline pH level. Since the last retreat of West Coast glaciers 10,000 years ago, the lake has served as a reservoir for volcanic silt and organic matter washed in from some 3,800 square miles of land surface, much of it mountainous. In this environment of deep volcanic soil, abundant minerals, natural nutrients, fresh water, and 300 days of sunshine a year, AFA has flourished to its fullest potential for centuries. In fact, each year the lake’s 594,000 acre-feet of water (650 billion gallons) produce in excess of 200 million pounds of its exceptional strain of AFA. Much of the algae produced by Upper Klamath Lake each year remains within the lake system, which means that over the millennia a thick blanket—in some spots 35 feet in depth—of nutrient-rich sediment has built up on the lake’s floor, further perpetuating the propagation of earth’s first super food.
To tap Upper Klamath Lake’s remarkable, virtually limitless resource of nutrient-packed microalgae, specialized equipment has been developed to harvest, transport, dry, process, and package AFA for commercial sale (in the form of natural whole-food dietary supplements and powders) by manufacturers who remain respectful of the uniquely balanced ecology that provides the ideal home for one of natures many nutritional wonders, Aphanizomenon flos-aquae.
What to look for in an Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) Supplement
Aphanizomenon flos-aquae, or AFA, is the only wild-harvested freshwater algae on the market today. Unlike algae grown in aqua culture tanks, AFA is found in one of the most nutrient-dense, pure and vital ecosystems in the natural world.
In the course of your research about AFA, you’ve learned that this superfood is a significant source of a wide variety of powerful phytonutrients and health benefits, and you’ve decided to make it a part of your diet through supplementation. Now what? How do you choose a supplier? How can you make you sure that what you’re putting into your body is harvested under food-safe standards to produce a pure and highly effective finished product? Look for the following:
Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) is a strict set of regulations enforced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), requiring that food- and supplement-processing facilities follow a set of strict guidelines, minimizing the risk of contamination and ensuring a high level of quality. Receiving GMP registration means that a producer has passed a rigorous audit that examines every step of the manufacturing process, from the initial raw material control to release of finished product, as well as employee training, validation of testing equipment, product traceability, and maintenance of the entire facility. This most important certification is not easy to obtain; in fact, there very few supplement producers that qualify.
Careful Harvesting and Handling Techniques
Find a company that has a rich history of using cutting-edge technology to harvest properly. Look for a producer that thoroughly explains how they process their Aphanizomenon flos-aquae. AFA is delicate. Once the algae is removed from the water, it begins to lose its nutritional viability. Because of this, the speed with which it goes from the initial screening to the cold storage facility is of primary importance. You’ll want to find a company that takes great care in locating the purest blooms of AFA, then carefully screens the algae from the lake water, cools it to refrigeration temperature in just a few minutes, transports the algae back to shore promptly, and there freezes it quickly. At various stages, the AFA should be subjected to multiple separation steps to ensure removal of any impurities.
Furthermore, if a producer is not willing to explain to you in great detail how they cool, transport, freeze, and dry their product, or if any of these vital steps are missing, the company may be lax in one or more areas. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
This is an important certification devised by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program standards. With so many genetically modified foods on market shelves, the “organic” stamp of approval has become a necessity for health-conscious consumers. During the certification process, a careful review of records and processes is performed by the certifying agency and inspections are made of production facilities and the ecosystem from which the raw product is extracted. This increasingly important label acknowledgement is rare. Look for it.
ODA Food Processing License
The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) Food Processing License is important when dealing with products that come from the State of Oregon, where some of the largest concentrations of AFA exist. Other states have similar laws governing the processing of foods. The ODA conducts meticulous inspections of manufacturing facilities, records, and testing procedures according to the FDA’s Current Good Manufacturing Practice.
This certification is granted by the internationally respected Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA) only after thorough inspection of a company’s facilities and procedures. Earning the halal symbol requires that products undergo a process involving methodical cleanliness and consistency during every step of production. To receive this certification all records, equipment, ingredients, and cleaning procedures must meet exacting halal requirements.
Like halal, kosher certification is based on a strict set of cleanliness standards, with keen attention toward processing. Like the above certifications, kosher re-certification requires regular inspections.