Superfood: AFA Blue-Green Algae

Wild Harvested Super Algae

Vitamin B12 is an important nutrient for healthy metabolism and nerve function.  An estimated 40% of the U.S. population - including both vegans and meat eaters - is deficient in this vitamin, and deficiencies have been associated with fatigue, weakness, anemia, and numbness and tingling in the arms and legs.  Despite claims to the contrary, AFA and other plant foods (like unwashed or unpeeled vegetables) aren't adequate sources of vitamin B12. Because the only known reliable sources of vitamin B12 are animal products, this is one nutrient where supplementing - especially for vegans - is important.  

Aphanizomenon floss-aquae (AFA) are edible blue-green algae that are harvested from Upper Klamath Lake in Oregon.  At an elevation of 4,100 feet above sea level, it has been described as one of the most nutrient-rich lakes in the world. Seventeen rivers feed into it and deposit an estimated 50,000 tons of mineral-abundant silt.  Wild growing AFA have been harvested and processed there for more than 25 years. It is the antioxidant power of these unique, edible algae that make an increasingly popular superfood. 

Although AFA are a wild food, you can purchase it frozen or in the form of a powder.  Frozen AFA can be thawed and consumed as a liquid alone or diluted with a small amount of fresh juice or water.  I recommend adding AFA powder, liquid, or frozen cubes (I often thaw an entire jar of AFA, pour into small ice cube trays, and refreeze) into your own freshly pressed juices or blended smoothies. One major manufacturer recommends starting with a small amount of AFA - about 1/2 to 1 tsp. - and increasing intake gradually up to 1 tbsp. or more each day, depending on how your body feels.  

Because AFA grow in the same water as other inedible, toxic algae (such as Microcystis aeruginosa, which produces a liver toxin called microcystin), there is some concern over accidental contamination that could occur during harvest. For this reason, if you choose to consume AFA, buy only 100% pure AFA from a reputable company that can verify that its products have been tested for and found free of contaminants.  Also be sure to discuss any supplements you are taking with your health care provider, especially if you are a woman who is pregnant or breastfeeding.  And please, do not attempt to grow or harvest AFA yourself.  

Source: Powerful Plant Based Super Foods - The best way to eat for maximum health, energy, and weight loss. - Author: Lauri Boone, R.D.

Susan Arruda