Tag Archives: Blue-Green Algae

The Truth About Klamath Lake Algae

What’s So Special About the Algae from Klamath Lake?



In the natural health world a lot of attention is given to a place called Klamath Lake.


Because it’s home to a particular type of blue green algae called Aphanizomenon flos-aquae, which is similar to spirulina and chlorella, but just a wee bit different.

Some folks claim that Klamath Lake blue-green algae has special health benefits, and because it only grows at Klamath, it’s worthy of special attention above and beyond other types of lake algae.

Is that true?

Well….kind of. To a degree.

A Quick Overview About Klamath Lake Algae

Aphanizomenon flos-aquae is a type of cyano-bacteria that biologically is quite similar to spirulina. It’s actually toxic in most places where it’s grown, but Klamath Lake is remarkably pure and free of toxins, and so the blue-green algae there can be ingested by humans. And it grows there in heaps and tons.

100,000 thousand kilograms of blue-green algae is harvested from the lake every year for the supplement industry. During the summer the growth of algae is so robust that the lake turns green and most of the native fish die out because the algae sucks out all the oxygen from the water.



The algae at Klamath Lake Changes Its Color

Health Benefits

So we know Klamath Lake algae is unique, but does that make it better? 

After all, caviar is really expensive…but that doesn’t mean people should go out and buy it.

The claims about it are numerous, but hard to verify. They include tumor suppression, immune system enhancement, and a possible plant source of vitamin B12.

Like other blue-green algaes, Klamath lake algae is a good source of protein, phytonutrients, and iron that has a high level of bio-availibility.

With regards to the health benefits of Klamath Lake Algae in particular, there are two remarkable points to consider:

  1. It has large amounts of a compound calledphycocyanin, moreso than any other food in the world
  2. There’s really not a whole lot of research on the health benefits of klamath lake algae

Let’s go over both points.


Phycocyanin is a naturally occurring antioxidant that naturally forms in cyanobacteria. It reduces oxidative stress and inflammation in the body, and is one of the reasons spirulina is considered a “superfood.”

By weight spirulina is about 5% phycocyanin, whereas Klamath Lake Algae is about 15% by weight, and has an unusually high amount of bioavailibility.

That’s great, but there’s a good reason to curtail this benefit.

Lack of Evidence

The truth is there’s not a whole lot of evidence one way or another about the benefits of Klamath Lake algae.

To see what I mean, go to this link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=klamath%20algae

There’s a total of 4 studies on Klamath Lake algae. That’s not very much.

The ones that were conducted all show positive results, but in my opinion they’re not especially well done and not worth getting excited over.

Mostly studies where they give a small group of people a pill for a few weeks and then ask how they feel afterwards. Not exactly conclusive.

Another link that re-enforces my point can be found here: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/923.html

The NIH keeps a database of all foods, and rates the potential health benefits of each one as “likely” “possibly likely” etc.

It determined there wasn’t enough evidence to conclude anything. 

So I’m fairly underwhelmed about this stuff.

Vitamin B12

Contrary to certain perceptions, algaes cannot reliably provide vitamin B12. They synthesize a metabolite of B12 that’s kinda-sorta like the real thing, but really doesn’t have the same effect in the body.

It’s believed by some raw-foodists that Klamath Lake algae is an exception has a biologically active form of B12, but I don’t believe this to be true.

The only evidence I can find of the Klamath Lake/B12 connection is this study…but that’s just one, and it’s far from conclusive.

Resources : http://blog.healthkismet.com/klamath-lake-algae-benefits-supplements

Aphanizomenon flos-aquae AFA blue green algae

algae_afaThe discovery of this ancient strain of blue-green micro-algae Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) has led to a new super food that contains more protein and chlorophyll than any other food source. Primitive as algae may appear, most are highly efficient photo synthesizers, even more so than plants. Algae utilize light energy from the sun, carbon dioxide from the air, and hydrogen from the water to synthesize proteins, carbohydrates and lipids. AFA blue-green algae grows only in the wild and is far superior to any other algae on the planet. It is nature’s perfect food. AFA is unique among all food grade algaes in that it also metabolizes molecular nitrogen from the air to produce its proteins and other nitrogen containing bio-molecules. The AFA blue-green algae cell is truly awe-inspiring. Although hundreds of times smaller than the cells of the plant or animal kingdoms, its wide range of sixty-four micro-nutrients is remarkable and unsurpassed by any known food. It should be no surprise that the nucleic acids of Aphanizomenon flos-aquae also bio-stimulate the immune system.

Is all AFA blue-green algae the same?

The benefits of Aphanizomenon flos-aquae are directly proportional to the quality and exact source of the algae. Unless you know the source of the algae, there is no guarantee of quality. AFA blue-green algae has been harvested from the purest and healthiest algae from the deepest waters of Upper Klamath Lake. We bring you the most potent algae available.

About the brain

The brain is the most undernourished organ in the body. Although it comprises only 2% of the total body weight, it uses 20% of the body’s available energy resources. Each of its estimated 10 billion neurons has an insatiable appetite, which must be satisfied every minute of every day of our lives. AFA blue-green algae metabolizes molecular nitrogen directly from the air. This growth pattern allows for the biosynthesis of Low Molecular Weight Peptide Groups. These low molecular weight peptides are the precursors of neurotransmitters, which are used by various regions of the brain and body to initiate the secretion of other substances (such as hormones) that influence metabolic functions. Neurotransmitters can be seen as the chemical link whereby neurons communicate with one another. The ability of the brain neurons to manufacture and utilize neurotransmitters is dependent upon the concentration of amino acids in the bloodstream. This largely depends upon the food consumption of the previous meal.

The importance of protein and amino acids

All of the body’s basic biochemical processes require energy to occur. It is from the ingestion of various food substances that the required amount of energy is obtained. The central part of the body’s energy package that provides for the replication and repair of cells, organs and organ systems is protein. Next to water, protein is the most abundant substance in a healthy human body. It comprises a major portion of the blood and lymph and creates a natural immunity by giving the body a means of recognizing invading foreign cells and viruses. Proteins are made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of the body. Proteins comprise 90% of the hemoglobin and form the backbone of the body’s immune system. Aphanizomenon flos-aquae contains more protein than any other organism (plant or animal). There are 22 amino acids, 8 of which are essential and must be obtained from our foods. Without proper quantities of all the amino acids, health cannot be maintained. When improper amounts of amino acids are consumed, the less important body tissues are “cannibalized” causing premature aging and possible severe deficiencies, such as lack of motivation, loss of memory, low mental alertness, poor intellectual performance and depression. What is truly unique about the algae is that its amino acid profile is almost identical to that found in our body, making AFA blue-green algae one of nature’s perfect foods.

Foundation food

Research has shown it’s not only what you eat, but also what your body absorbs and assimilates that is important. Micro-algae, existing at the beginning of the food chain, provide nutrition in its simplest form balanced whole food nutrition that is easily digested and absorbed. AFA blue-green algae has a soft cell wall that is easily digested by the body. This allows rapid absorption of vital nutrients with 97% assimilation. This algae, harvested from the wild in its 100% organic natural state, comes to you directly from southern Oregon’s extraordinary Upper Klamath Lake. The lake is far away from any large cities that might pollute the air and water, and it is also entirely surrounded by the Cascade Mountains. This unique ecosystem of mineral-rich water, clean air and high intensity sunlight makes Upper Klamath Lake the perfect growth medium for this nutrient-dense whole food. Aphanizomenonklamath_lake_afa flos-aquae from Klamath Lake is the very best that algae can be. It is the most fundamental food on the planet. There is simply nothing else like it. Algae has been harvested and eaten for centuries and yet, until recently, its immense nutritional value has mostly gone unrecognized. Now, science has begun to focus their attention on the nutritional potential of algae because of global hunger, shrinking resources, depleted lands, etc. The results of this research and testing have been impressive enough for UC Irvine scientists to call it a “Super Food, capable of contributing to the achievement and maintenance of wellness.”

Resources : http://www.feelthevibe.com/afa/

Health Benefits of Blue Green Algae

blue_green_algaeOrganic blue-green algae is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. Two varieties, spirulina and Aphanizomenon flos-aquae, are the most consumed forms of blue green algae; which has superfood status due to high concentrations of proteins, vitamins and nutrients. [1]

How is Blue-Green Algae Cultivated?

Most blue-green algae products contain Aphanizomenon flos-aquae harvested from Upper Klamath Lake in southern Oregon. Harvesting is done during the summertime, June to November. The algae is filtered to preserve the most vibrant blooms and then further purified by centrifugation. The AFA is then chilled and sold frozen or dried at low temperatures and sold as a powder.

Natural Compounds in Organic Blue-Green Algae

Blue-green algae is 70% vegetable protein and has higher levels of beta-carotene than broccoli. The one-two punch potency of blue-green algae is that it contains a high concentration of nutrients- over 65 vitamins, minerals and enzymes and the complete spectrum of eight essential amino acids and ten nonessential amino acids… and they are all easily absorbed by the body. In fact up to 97% of the beneficial vitamins, minerals and enzymes found in blue-green algae are easily absorbed (some supplements are as low as 5-25% absorbable). AFA also contains the most biologically active chlorophyll of any known food.

Antioxidant Activity of Blue-Green Algae

Aphanizomenon flos-aquae is rich in compounds that provide antioxidants. A measurement called the “oxygen radical absorbance capacity” (ORAC) is used to determine free radical scavenging capacity of foods and other substances purported to contain antioxidants. Italy’s University of Urbino Carlo Bo applied the ORAC method to edible AFA. The outcome was positive in favor of researchers supporting the use of AFA as a dietary antioxidant supplement to relieve oxidative stress. [2]

The University of Urbino Carlo B conducted another study designed to evaluate the ability of AFA to provide defense against oxidative damage to normal human red blood cells and plasma. Results suggested AFA lowered oxidative damage in both. Furthermore, AFA delayed the depletion of enzymes that are beneficial to the body. [3]

A Japanese study found that a product containing blue-green algae from lake Klamath exhibited considerable antioxidant activity and was an effective adaptogenic; that is, a substance that helps the body adapt to protect against stressors. [4]

Blue-Green Algae and B12

There is some controversy over whether or not AFA is an effective source of vitamin B12. Many natural sources of vitamin B12 have been shown to be biologically inadequate. However, preliminary research conducted by Italy’s Department of Neurorehabilitation at Villa Salus Hospital evaluated the vitamin B12 levels of 15 vegan subjects who had supplemented with an algae product from Lake Klamath and found their B12 levels increased over a control group. Although not absolutely conclusive, researchers believed the preliminary research supported the argument that AFA is a reliable source of vitamin B12. [5]

Blue-Green Algae and Stem Cells

In adults, stem cells have the function of repairing damaged cells. Unfortunately, as we age, stem cells have a reduced restorative ability and are more vulnerable to oxidative stress. This results in the body being less able to repair itself. Based on previous studies that showed blue-green algae can modulate immune function in animals, the Department of Neurosurgery at USF investigated the effects of AFA on cultured human stem cells. Researchers noted that preliminary results suggested an ethanol extract of AFA may promote human stem cell proliferation. [6]

Potential Concerns about Blue Green Algae

Although blue-green algae is commonly consumed in the United States, Canada, and Europe, some concern has been voiced about the potential for presence of microcystin, a toxic byproduct of blue-green algae. In response, the Oregon Health Division and the Oregon Department of Agriculture have established regulatory limits on microcystin content in BGA products. [7] As with most products, if you’re pregnant or nursing, it’s a good idea to first consult your health care provider before supplementing with blue-green algae.





  1. Kay RA. Microalgae as food and supplement. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 1991;30(6):555-73. Review.
  2. Benedetti S, Benvenuti F, Scoglio S, Canestrari F. Oxygen radical absorbance capacity of phycocyanin and phycocyanobilin from the food supplement Aphanizomenon flos-aquae. J Med Food. 2010 Feb;13(1):223-7. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2008.0257.
  3. Benedetti S, Benvenuti F, Pagliarani S, Francogli S, Scoglio S, Canestrari F.Antioxidant properties of a novel phycocyanin extract from the blue-green alga Aphanizomenon flos-aquae. Life Sci. 2004 Sep 24;75(19):2353-62.
  4. Sedriep S, Xia X, Marotta F, Zhou L, Yadav H, Yang H, Soresi V, Catanzaro R, Zhong K, Polimeni A, Chui DH. Beneficial nutraceutical modulation of cerebral erythropoietin expression and oxidative stress: an experimental study. J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. 2011 Apr-Jun;25(2):187-94.
  5. Baroni L, Scoglio S, Benedetti S, Bonetto C, Pagliarani S, Benedetti Y, Rocchi M, Canestrari F. Effect of a Klamath algae product (“AFA-B12″) on blood levels of vitamin B12 and homocysteine in vegan subjects: a pilot study. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2009 Mar;79(2):117-23. doi: 10.1024/0300-9831.79.2.117.
  6. Shytle DR, Tan J, Ehrhart J, Smith AJ, Sanberg CD, Sanberg PR, Anderson J, Bickford PC. Effects of blue-green algae extracts on the proliferation of human adult stem cells in vitro: a preliminary study. Med Sci Monit. 2010 Jan;16(1):BR1-5.
  7. Gilroy DJ, Kauffman KW, Hall RA, Huang X, Chu FS. Assessing potential health risks from microcystin toxins in blue-green algae dietary supplements. Environ Health Perspect. 2000 May;108(5):435-9.