Blue-green algae products, which are made from any of dozens of species of algae and seaweed, offer a variety of health benefits. Some species of blue-green algae are nutritionally balanced and rich in antioxidants. Other blue-green algae species may help to treat medical conditions such as obesity, fatigue, depression, anxiety and premenstrual syndrome.
Blue-green algae can be safe when it is used carefully, for short periods of time. However, there are some blue-green algae contraindications. If you fall into any of the following high-risk groups, do not take blue-green algae supplements.
Some blue-green algae products are contaminated with harmful substances, such as microcystins, toxic metals, and infctious bacteria. Although many companies test their products to ensure that they are free of these contaminants, the potential risks still outweigh the benefits for children. Children are more susceptible to these poisons, and may experience nausea, vomiting, weakness, thirst, liver damage, stomach pain,rapid heartbeat, and even death after taking contaminated products.
Pregnant women are also more susceptible to the dangers associated with contaminants in blue-green algae, and there is no evidence to suggest that blue-green algae supplements offer benefits to expectant mothers. Therefore, pregnancy is regarded as a blue-green algae contraindication. Talk to your doctor or midwife if you have any questions about the use of nutritional supplements during pregnancy.
If you are breastfeeding a child, be sure to use only blue-green algae products that have been tested and are guaranteed to be free of contaminants. In theory, the contaminants that sometimes occur in blue-green algae may cross into breast milk, thereby affecting the nursing child.
People with Autoimmune Disease
Compounds in blue-green algae may stimulate the immune system. This could worsen symptoms of auto-immune illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis and lupus. Use nutritional supplements only under a health care provider’s guidance if you have any form of autoimmune illness, and report any changes in symptoms to a professional.
Many species of blue-green algae contain the chemical phenylalanine, which can be dangerous to people with phenylketonuria, or PKU. PKU is a major blue-green algae contraindication, because blue-green algae and other products containing phenylaline will trigger serious problems in any person with phenylketonuria.
Visit the National Institutes of Health for more information about blue-green algae contraindications.