Microalgae producer Cyanotech has developed a new cultivation strategy for its spirulina, which the firm says improves the nutritional profile of the ingredient.

The new method is said to significantly increase levels of core components, such as zeaxanthin, carotenoids, iron and vitamin B-12.

According to Cyanotech’s vice president of sales and marketing Bob Capelli, this will allow its customers in the food and supplements industries to improve the nutrient profile
of their products without increasing the levels of spirulina used.

Spirulina, a blue-green vegetable algae, is a rich source of protein, amino acids, phytonutrients, iron, antioxidants and B-vitamins. Cyanotech’s spirulina is grown in Hawaii,
and has GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status, meaning it can be used as a functional ingredient in foods and beverages.

Higher nutrient levels

Increased levels of nutrients resulting from the new cultivation method have been verified by the labs Covance and Brunswick, and include:

· Zeaxanthin increased by 200 percent over the firm’s previous spirulina product – from 3mg to 9mg per 3g daily serving.

· Total corotenoid levels increased 15 percent, from 13mg to 15mg per serving

· Vitamin B-12 increased 65 percent from 5.56μg to 9μg per serving

· Vitamin B-1 (riboflavin) increased 17 percent, from 120μg to 140μg

· Iron increased 200 percent, from 3mg to 9mg

· GLA (gamma linolenic acid) increased 14 percent from 28mg to 32mg

· Chlorophyll increased 25 percent, from 24mg to 30mg

· C-Phycocyanin increased 45 percent from 165mg to 240mg

Better value

Cyanotech said it will continue to supply the ingredient at the same price. The firm told that although it is delivering a “better, more
product, it sees “no necessity for price increases”.

As well as allowing manufacturers to increase the levels of nutrients in their products, another potential benefit of this more potent spirulina is that lower levels of the ingredient
could be used to obtain the same nutrient claims and health benefits.

The company said the current changes to its cultivation method are a result of almost a year of research.

Although Cyanotech could not reveal details of the changes, it said they involved an improvement in the nutrient profile of grow ponds, as well as differences in the environment of
the grow ponds.

Lorraine Heller