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Intake Of Dietary Supplements And Cyanobacteria

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Food supplements are nutrients with high concentrated sources of amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals that supplied to the body in the form of pills, tablets, capsules and liquids to compensate the decreasing of essential substances in the body as many people consume nutrients less than dietary reference intake especially vitamins such as A, D, E, K and C and also minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium.

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if the dietary intake of essential nutrients is less than the dietary reference intake and regularly taking insufficient amount of essential substances daily such as amino acids causes stunting, anemia, physical weakness, edema, vascular dysfunction and impaired immunity also, taking insufficient amount of minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, iodine and vitamins such as A, B, C, D, E, folate and niacin causes health disorders. Fatty acids act as biofuels and essential for cell membrane formation so, taking it regularly under daily dose recommendation is not benefiting, also omega3 and omega6 are essential fatty acids and by increasing the amount of omega6 compared to omega3 and make the ratio of them 15/1-16.7/1 decrease the risks of cardiovascular disease, cancer, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

However, dietary supplements intake for low essential nutrients compensation is not the best way and daily eating whole food such as fruits and vegetables still better as the isolated pure compound loses its bioactivity and it may not behave with the same way as it found in the whole food and there are many studies to investigate the difference between natural and synthetic bioactive molecules according to absorbance or activities. For example natural vitamin E has been found in blood plasma and the body tissues twice the synthetic vitamin E, the activity of whole tomatoes and lycopene supplements on cardiovascular disease and another related diseases was established and whole tomatoes provide more effective results than lycopene supplement on cardiovascular disease and many related diseases such as oxidative stress, inflammation, endothelial function and lipid metabolism, so synthetic nutrients is not the ideal way to compensate essential nutrients loss even if there are studies that support food supplements to have a good biological activity on decreasing the risk of some diseases because there are other ones that do not suggest using them and the role of supplements on chronic diseases still controversial. For example there are studies that support anticancer activity of food supplements such as multivitamins, but other studies deny any relation between food supplements intake and risk of cancer while other studies reported that food supplements intake increase the risk of cancer disease but the studies of the fruits and vegetables activities as anticancer still stable, so their dietary intake still better.

But what happens if dietary supplements are cyanobacteria?

Cyanobacteria contain many bioactive molecules and they are using for centuries. Today they marketed as food supplements such as Spirulina (Arthrospira) which used as food supplements due to its pharmaceutical effect as antimicrobial (including antiviral and antibacterial), anticancer, immunostimulant, metal protective (prevention of heavy-metal poisoning against Cd, Pb, Fe, Hg) and antioxidant effects as it contains a high quantity of protein, polysaccharide, lipid, essential amino and fatty acids, dietary minerals and vitamins, so it will be thought that there is no problem for using cyanobacteria as food supplements but it is found that there is a risk of formation microcystins that considered intercellular toxins released from cyanobacteria during its lysis and with investigation 12 food supplements samples it is found that M. aeruginosa is responsible for toxins production in the samples. Toxins are dangerous due to their high hepatoxicity. They are secreted from cyanobacteria into stomach then transport into small intestine and cause injury to intestinal cells then transport to liver at which destruction of the parenchymal cells and sinusoids of the liver, lethal intrahepatic hemorrhage (within minutes or hours) or hepatic insufficiency (within several hours to a few days) occurs. Microcystins is not the only toxin that in risk to be produced in food supplements also the presence of anatoxin-a ‘neurotoxin’ was reported according to Rellán et al. (2009) as 39 samples of dietary supplements from different suppliers were investigated for presence of anatoxin-a and 3 of them had positive results and anatoxin-a was found on them.

In conclusion, fruits and vegetables intake is more preferable than food supplements. For cyanobacteria food supplements quality control is required to avoid the formation of toxins and their harmful effects in human and animals. 

09 March 2021

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