Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "

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Spirulina gives runners more stamina

The algae supplement Spirulina platensis protects runners' muscles during intensive training and increases their stamina, Taiwanese researchers discovered after doing tests with sixteen students.

Spirulina gives runners more stamina
The Taiwanese gave 8 students a daily dose of 7.5 g of spirulina in 0.5 g capsules for a period of three weeks. The students spread their intake over the day and took the capsules with meals. The control group was given capsules containing soya protein.

At the end of the three weeks, the researchers got the students to run on a treadmill. Every few minutes they increased the speed and the incline of the machine and continued until the students gave up. This is known in the trade as the Bruce protocol stress test. Blood samples were taken before and after the exercise.


The students that had taken spirulina had greater stamina, as you can see below. TE = time to exhaustion. The researchers found more lactic acid in their blood as well. LA = lactic acid.

Spirulina gives runners more stamina

After analysing the students' blood the researchers concluded that the supplement increases the production of the protective enzymes SOD and GPx in the muscles. Indicators of muscle damage, such as MDA and LDH, on the other hand decreased in the spirulina group.

Spirulina gives runners more stamina

Asian scientists tend to be more cautious than their Western counterparts. That's why the Taiwanese conclude that spirulina supplements prepare muscle cells for the impact of intensive training.

We, unhindered by deeper knowledge, suspect however that spirulina has aneffect on the metabolism in the muscle cells, so that they start to meet their energy requirements in a more effective and economic way.

The Taiwanese do suggest in veiled terms in their conclusion that spirulina might be an interesting supplement for endurance athletes, one which could smooth down the rough edges caused by using forbidden substances. "If taking spirulina has the effect on exercise related advantage, it could probably decrease the side effect and dependence, which usually appear with long-term use of artificial concentrated compounds on the human body".

Or are we barking up the wrong tree?

The research was financed by Fareast Microalgae Industry, a spirulina manufacturer.

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2006 Sep; 98(2):220-6.