(NaturalNews) Did you know that, among its many benefits, spirulina has also been shown to improve academic performance in schoolchildren?
Because spirulina is an abundant, naturally occurring food that is high in nutrients but contains only 3.9 calories per gram, it has attracted attention as a nutritional supplement that might be able to help alleviate malnutrition worldwide without leading to the opposite problem of obesity. Adding to spirulina’s appeal, it retains its nutritional value well during processing and has an extraordinarily long shelf life.
A nutritional powerhouse
The academic performance study was conducted by Senegalese researchers and
published in the French journal Sante Publique in 2009. The researchers were evaluating the effectiveness of a government program designed to improve the nutritional status of schoolchildren with spirulina supplements. The children consumed 2g of spirulina (mixed with 10g of honey for flavor) once per day for 60 days.
The researchers compared the academic performance of 549 Senegalese elementary school students right before the beginning of spirulina supplementation with their performance two months later. The children’s average age was seven years, seven months.
After two months of spirulina supplementation, the children’s average school performance had increased by 10 percent. The results were statistically significant.
Because so little research on this effect has been done, it is impossible to be certain what is responsible for this improvement in academic scores. However, studies have shown that spirulina improves both cognitive ability and mental health, in part because it contains high levels of L-tryptophan – the amino acid needed for the body to synthesize the neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin.
Another possible explanation is that spirulina improves the overall nutritional health of school children, which has been strongly correlated withacademic performance. Spirulina is not just a complete protein but 60-70 percent protein by weight, a higher proportion than either soy or red meat. It is high in vitamins A, C, D and E, as well as in B vitamins, including B-12, which is not typically found in vegetable sources. It also contains a wide variety of minerals, antioxidants and fatty acids that have been shown to contribute to healthier skin and hair, and to fight cell damage.