New Study: Blue-Green Algae Enhances Memory in Cognitively Impaired

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A new study found that having people with mild cognitive impairment take an extract from spirulina algae improved their visual memory and vocabulary after 12 weeks. The algae supplement was safe and shows promise as a potential natural brain booster. 

The double-blind, placebo-controlled study tested whether taking a supplement made from an extract of spirulina could improve memory and brain function in older adults.1 Eighty people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) were randomly assigned to take either 1 gram per day of a spirulina extract called SM70EE or an identical placebo pill for 12 weeks.2 Researchers assessed visual memory, verbal memory, vocabulary, and antioxidant levels using standardized tests and surveys.3

Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae renowned as a nutrient-packed "superfood" with extensive research backing its health effects. The natural health research site Greenmedinfo.com contains 275 studies documenting spirulina's potential therapeutic benefits in over 150 conditions.4 The SM70EE extract was 70% ethanolic spirulina extract, concentrating potential neuroprotective components like chlorophyll.5 Participants took 3 pills per day with meals.6

Compared to placebo, the SM70EE group showed significant gains in visual learning and visual working memory.7 They also improved more in vocabulary.8 Levels of plasma brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and beta-amyloid, biomarkers related to Alzheimer's disease, didn't change significantly.9 However, trends towards increased antioxidant capacity emerged.10 No negative side effects occurred.11

These exciting findings suggest spirulina extracts like SM70EE may support cognitive function, memory, and brain health - especially visual memory - in older populations with MCI. With further studies confirming benefits, SM70EE or similar algae supplements could provide a promising natural boost for people's brains as they age.

To learn more about natural approaches to addressing cognitive decline visit our database on the subject here.


References

1. Woon-Yong Choi et al., "The Effects of Spirulina maxima Extract on Memory Improvement in Those with Mild Cognitive Impairment," Nutrients 14, no. 18 (September 2022), https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14183714.

2. Woon-Yong Choi et al.

3. Woon-Yong Choi et al.

4. GreenMedInfo, s.v. "Spirulina," accessed March 5, 2023, https://greenmedinfo.com/substance/spirulina.

5. Woon-Yong Choi et al., "The Effects of Spirulina Maxima Extract."

6. Ibid.

7. Subhash C. Mandal et al., "The Anti-Obesity Potential of Spirulina: Current Evidence and Possible Mechanisms of Action" (Mary Ann Liebert Inc, December 29, 2020), https://doi.org/10.1089/jmf.2020.0058.

8. Woon-Yong Choi et al., "The Effects of Spirulina Maxima Extract."

9. Ibid.

10. Ibid.

11. Ibid.
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