The unique Spirulina smell – Polyamines

We have been asked many times about the “fishy” or “seaweed” smell of Spirulina, and we thought we should direct these questions to the producer of our Spirulina. This is what they had to say:

      “As regards, the smell, [we] would like to give a slightly detailed explanation, which would help you to understand the nature of our organic Spirulina.


      The odour of our Organic Spirulina is due to the presence of a phyto-nutrient, Polyamines. These are the molecules that give Spirulina its characteristic smell. These may be responsible to keep cell membranes healthy.

To explain further, Polyamines – the special class of molecules helps to maintain the fluidity of the cell membrane, there by effecting efficient cellular functions. The Polyamines interact with anionic groups on membranes, preventing leakage and causing stabilization in conditions of stress. Many papers report that polyamines stimulate or inhibit various enzymes concerned with DNA synthesis or metabolism, such as nucleases.

Spirulina is a concentrated source of nutrients, which can be used as an additional food supplement for immediate and long-term health. In addition to providing complete nutrition to the body, Spirulina also protects actively vital molecular structures not only by its antioxidants, but also, due to the presence of these polyamines. This is the reason studies explain that Spirulina works in regulating the cholesterol blood ratio by fluidification of the membrane, these structures are able to accept again the HDL-cholesterol, avoiding in this way the excessive formation of LDL cholesterol.

The smell can be masked by using a special treatment, but by doing so, the essential nutrients are being removed. It is against the Food and Drugs act and also against as per the organic standards. We want to provide quality product to our customers, and are providing a world class product that meets all the organic and health standards. [In short], if the Spirulina does not smell, it is not a good Spirulina.”

Certainly, we would be cautious in claiming that if Spirulina does not smell it is not “good”, since if you are already consuming Spirulina, it is a step in the right direction for health.
Essentially, by being strict to their production process, as well as their organic certification process, they made the conscious choice to retain the original, unique smell of Spirulina. We know of manufacturers who attempt to modify the smell, either through masking, encapsulating, or modifying the production process. But that also means more production cost, and possible modification of the organic form of Spirulina.

Just like natto, tempeh, durians, fermented tofu, sashimi, etc., smell and taste can be acquired. If you think about it, there is a long list of foods in the world which would raise many eyebrows in its consumed form, but certainly, many of them are consumed that way precisely because it is healthier, and their taste can certainly be acquired. Seaweed, in its dried unprocessed form is actually quite strong smelling. We are merely used to consuming it after processing and flavour-enhancements.

AlphaHealth, as our name suggest, would prefer to stay as close as possible to being organic and natural, hence the naturally unique smell of Spirulina. That being said, we are of course, working with our producer to explore natural ways of minimising possible unpleasantness (for some people) in consuming Spirulina.

Over the years we have gotten used to the smell of consuming our Spirulina. In fact, for some reason, our dog actually loves that smell, and we end up using the small pills as an occasional treat for her!

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