Infant Seizures Linked to Mother’s Spirulina Use

On his first day of life, an infant is hospitalized with seizures. Researchers concluded that his mother’s daily spirulina use starting in the 4th month of pregnancy was likely to blame. I’ve talked previously about the liver and nerve toxins present in many spirulina supplements, but the supplement companies swear up and down that spirulina doesn’t produce those toxins, and they may be right.

But if spirulina doesn’t produce toxins, how is it that toxins are found in spirulina supplements on store shelves? It appears to be contamination of spirulina with toxin-producing blue-green algae.

For example, if you look at the new U.S. Pharmacopeia safety evaluation of spirulina, they conclude that “the available evidence does not indicate a serious risk to health or other public health concern when spirulina is properly identified, formulated, and used.” Ah, but that’s the catch. You grow and collect spirulina in some open lake and you have no idea what other algae are going to crop up. The researchers report all sorts of adverse reactions of people taking spirulina products–­­but they attribute these issues to non-spirulina algae toxin contaminants within spirulina supplements known to be toxic to the liver and cancer-causing. So unless there’s third-party testing of each batch (which no company could presumably afford to do), I continue to encourage people to avoid spirulina products.

If one still wants something green to sprinkle on their popcorn, I’d recommend chlorella instead (Is Chlorella Good for You?).

I’ve previously addressed green powders in:

Pregnancy is a very vulnerable time and requires an even higher level of dietary vigilance:

Some supplements may be risky for everyone though. See, for example the video featured Wednesday’s Care2 post: Safety of Noni and Mangosteen Juice.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live year-in-review presentations Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death and More Than an Apple a Day.

The Effects of Cow’s Milk on Babies
Protecting Our Babies From Pollutants
What Should Women Eat to Live Longest?


june t.
reft h3 years ago

something I'll stay away from

Carol M.
Carol M4 years ago

That's why it's very important to know where your supplements come from. So many now are sourced from China, so no telling what's in those bottles. Do lots of research before you decide on a nutritional supplement.

Val M.
Val M4 years ago


Lynn C.
Lynn C4 years ago


Sarah M.
Sarah M4 years ago

Makes no sense.

Jonathan Smithsonian


Barb h
Ba H4 years ago


Dmitry Nikiforov
Dmitry Nikiforov4 years ago

thank you

Elena T.
Elena Poensgen4 years ago

Thank you :)

Carla van der Meer
Carla v4 years ago

Interesting, thank you.