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What do a much loved but potentially over-consumed sweetener, an algae and a citric acid cycle intermediary have in common? It is not often that they might be found on the same menu, other than our alphabet soup of supplements. This issue deals with the use of sucrose in sports product, an interest in spirulina beyond its general health claims and a product which might enhance the function of a key pathway in exercise metabolism. It should be noted that we have not overlooked sodium bicarbonate; this topic was dealt with under ‘Buffers’, which appeared in a previous issue of the journal.1
Spirulina constitutes microalgae belonging to the cyanobacteria class, with nutritional supplements (tablets, flakes and powders) typically being produced from the cultivation of two species Arthrospira platensis and Arthrospira maxima. It is also used as a feed supplement in the aquaculture, aquarium and poultry industries. Spirulina was primarily recognised as being rich in proteins and essential fatty acids, but recently has attracted attention due to its content of phytochemicals with antioxidant and hypolipidemic properties.2 Claims for general health benefits from spirulina intake are centuries old.2 Claimed ergogenic benefits relate to antioxidant defence and favourable changes in substrate utilisation during exercise. Indeed, moderately trained runners who received spirulina supplementation for 4 weeks (6 g/day) showed increased fat utilisation, reductions in markers of antioxidant stress and increased endurance at high intensity exercise (95% VO2 …
Conflicts of interest None.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.