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Algae Calcium
Lithothamnion Algae

One of the best marine calcium sources. 

What is Red Algae Calcium? 

 

Algae are a diverse group of aquatic organisms found in various marine and freshwater environments. Some species of algae absorb and accumulate minerals, including calcium, from their environment. One of those species is the Lithothamnion algae.

Lithothamnion is a genus of red algae that belongs to the family Corallinaceae. They are commonly referred to as maerl or coralline algae. Lithothamnion algae usually grow in coastal inlets at specific depths where the sunlight still reaches them. The algae form a hard, chalky crust that can be found in various forms, such as free-living, branched, encrusting, or nodding. These structures are comprised of calcium, magnesium, and other trace minerals, which the algae extract from the sea and deposit in their cell walls.

Unlike corals, calcified algae do not form large coral structures teaming with life. As the algae ages and dies it calcifies with the live algae growing at the top, building up into a sediment over time. Because of this, harvesting them does not destroy an important marine ecosystem as can happen when corals are harvested.

 

The algae is also a slow growing organism, so it is important to conserve the live algae as the calcified remains are being harvested. Simply by moving the living top layer before harvesting, the calcified remains beneath can be accessed while the living algae is able to continue to grow,  sustaining a continued cycle of algae growth. it is, however, important to harvest with care as to not spread fine particle sediment over a large area which can damage the ecosystem and kill the living algae close to the harvesting site.

Calcified remains of algae are used in the food industry as a source of high-quality, vegan calcium.  It is also used for animal feed, in cosmetic products as a natural exfoliant and skin conditioner and other industries. We at Biogenic Minerals consider any use of calcified algae outside of food for humans to be wasteful of a rare and important source of dietary calcium.

Why use Red Algae Calcium?

There are several reasons why calcified remains of Lithothamnion algae are superior to calcium from limestone, from bone health to sustainability. Here is a list of reasons.

1. Better bone health.

 

The most exciting benefit of algae calcium is its ability to prevent and even restore bone loss. As we age, we begin to lose bone density as new bone formation can no longer keep up with old bone deterioration.  For many people, this process results in osteoporosis. Several studies have shown that algae-derived calcium can restore some bone density to people, which traditional calcium supplements cannot do. One such study found that a mineral supplement made from algae calcium increased bone density by more than 2% on average , and another showed that women in their mid 60's gained 7.3% more bone over a 7-year period . These results are stunning, as osteoporosis is a huge health problem, and no other calcium supplement has shown any ability to restore bone density, only slowing down or at best halting bone loss.

This unique ability of algae calcium is believed to lie in the diverse mineral composition of the calcified algae, and the crystal structure of the calcium minerals.

Typical Mineral Composition of Calcified Lithothamnion Algae.

Mineral

Calcium

Magnesium

Sulphur

Potassium

Phosphorus

Sodium

Manganese

Zinc

Iron

Iodine

Boron

Copper

Cobalt

Selenium

Other Trace Minerals*

Dry weight

34%

2.4%

0.7%

0.6%

0.05%

0.25%

100 ppm

20 ppm

800 ppm

30 ppm

17 ppm

8 ppm

0.1 ppm

1.0 ppm

2.0%

* A wide range of trace minerals from seawater.

 

J.Frestedt et. al., Nutrition Journal, 2008.

Image of Lithothamnion algae, the source of algae calcium

2. Reduce symptoms of knee arthritis.

 

Another exciting benefit of algae calcium is its effect on joint pain. In clinical research done by Frestedt et al. , a supplement made from calcified algae was shown to reduce the symptoms of knee arthritis, resulting in a 50% reduction of NSAID medication. While being a small preliminary study, the study highlights the possibility that algae-derived calcium could significantly contribute to knee arthritis therapy in the future. ​ 

3. Improvements in Overall Gut Health

More recent studies have also shown that algae-derived calcium can benefit gut health overall. Possible beneficial changes in microbial community and metabolomics of the colon were found in human participants, and both animal and in vitro studies have found gastroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects from the use of algae-derived calcium.

4. Protective properties against colon and breast cancer.

Several studies have shown that calcium supplementation can reduce the occurrence of polyp formations and inhibit colon carcinoma cell growth. The same appears to apply when calcified algae from lithothamnion calcareum is used instead of regular calcium supplements.

5. Reduced environmental impact.

Calcium carbonate, derived from rocks such as limestone and marble, requires mining and other energy-intensive processes to extract and purify the calcium. The entire process is energy-intensive and can leave scars on the landscape.

Algae calcium, on the other hand, is a natural and renewable source of calcium, and its production has a lower environmental impact than other calcium supplements. Our way of sourcing the calcified algae ensures the continued growth of the algae on the seabed.

6. Vegan and vegetarian-friendly.

Algae calcium supplements are suitable for vegans and vegetarians, as they are not derived from animal sources but are calcified remains of algae that grow wild on the seabed.

References:

Almeida F, Schiavo LV, Vieira AD, Araújo GL, Queiroz-Junior CM, Teixeira MM, Cassali GD, Tagliati CA. Gastroprotective and toxicological evaluation of the Lithothamnion calcareum algae. Food Chem Toxicol. 2012 May;50(5):1399-404. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2012.02.028. 

Frestedt JL, Kuskowski MA, Zenk JL. A natural seaweed derived mineral supplement for knee osteoarthritis: a randomised, placebo controlled pilot study. Nutr J. 2009 Feb 2;8:7. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-8-7.

Heffernan SM, Horner K, De Vito G, Conway GE. The Role of Mineral and Trace Element Supplementation in Exercise and Athletic Performance: A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2019 Mar 24;11(3):696. doi: 10.3390/nu11030696.

Kaats GR, Preuss HG, Stohs S, Perricone N. A 7-Year Longitudinal Trial of the Safety and Efficacy of a Vitamin/Mineral Enhanced Plant-Sourced Calcium Supplement. J Am Coll Nutr. 2016;35(2):91-9. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2015.1090357.

Michalek JE, Preuss HG, Croft HA, Keith PL, Keith SC, Dapilmoto M, Perricone NV, Leckie RB, Kaats GR. Changes in total body bone mineral density following a common bone health plan with two versions of a unique bone health supplement: a comparative effectiveness research study. Nutr J. 2011 Apr 14;10:32. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-10-32.

Moussavou G, Kwak DH, Obiang-Obonou BW, Maranguy CA, Dinzouna-Boutamba SD, Lee DH, Pissibanganga OG, Ko K, Seo JI, Choo YK. Anticancer effects of different seaweeds on human colon and breast cancers. Mar Drugs. 2014 Sep 24;12(9):4898-911. doi: 10.3390/md12094898.

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