Micro algae fights skin ageing

Spirulina platensis – the most commonly found micro algae in Cuba – has been shown to offer high protection against free radicals according to a research study at the University of Havana.

The study which was carried out in November 2007 discovered that the high vitamin E and carotene content of the algae can stimulate the immune system and help in the prevention of cancer and premature skin ageing.

The research group has produced a line of cosmetic products based on their findings using hydroalcoholic extracts of Spirulina platensis which is being marketed throughout South America and parts of Europe.

Spirulina is the common name for a form of cyanobacteria which has been the focus of much interest in recent years as an extremely adaptable and nutrient rich food source. As a plant, Spirulina is incredibly rich containing a balance of nutrients that make it virtually a ‘whole food’ capable of sustaining life without the need for other foods.

“Spirulina platensis…has an antioxidant system which prevents the harmful action of radicals in the dermis and epidermis” Dr Ivonne Almiral, Havana University

One of the first so called ‘super foods’, Spirulina provides vitamins, many minerals, essential amino acids, carbohydrates and enzymes.

Spirulina is composed of 60% vegetable protein – higher than any other food source. The vegetable protein is predigested by the algae, making it a highly digestible food.

Spirulina has long been a food source for both human and non-human forms of life. The Aztecs were known to cultivate and use spirulina in their diet and flamingos are avid feeders at the edges of freshwater lakes all over the world.

Its outstanding nutritional profile also includes the essential fatty acids, GLA fatty acid, lipids, the nucleic acids (RNA and DNA), B complex, vitamin C and E and phytochemicals, such as carotenoids, chlorophyll (blood purifier), and phycocyanin (a blue pigment), which is a protein that is known to inhibit cancer.

By focusing on Spirulina platensis as an active ingredient in anti ageing skin care, the Havana group are reflecting two main trends in current research – the hunt for cosmeceutical products which reverse the effects of skin ageing and the drive to bring effective natural products into the mainstream.

As the population of the Western world ages and with disposable incomes growing the focus on anti ageing products is only set to increase. A corresponding consumer led demand is for regenerative and revitalizing substances extracted from nature. With concern about global warming and fear of hidden chemicals in skin care products the move towards naturally occurring active ingredients is also likely to increase.

The focus on seaweeds as a rich source of anti ageing ingredients is growing and the complexity and variety of marine products available to the cosmetic scientist offers a world of possibilities – the work of the Havana group being just one example.

(Read more background information about Spirulina platensis)

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