8 brands of spirulina on a white plate for a best spirulina powder comparison

Charlie Wettlaufer

What is the Best Spirulina Powder?

I recently decided to educate myself as much as possible about spirulina.

It's a popular ingredient at many of our customer's juice bars, and I needed to source a good supply of spirulina powder (staying away from fresh spirulina, due to shelf life issues) for our new juice bar marketplace.

I asked around to our juice bar customers about what their favorite brands of spirulina powder are, and ordered every one of them to sample them myself. I also ordered every brand I could find online.

What I discovered about spirulina is that there are major quality differences between sources, and that pricing and quality isn't necessarily correlated. There is also some weird, gross stuff going on in the spirulina industry.

I'm going to share my findings and rate each brand of spirulina on a scale of 1 to 10 at the end of this article. Only the best spirulina powder I could find got a perfect 10/10 score, which is the one I chose for the marketplace.

But first, let's cover the basics.

What is Spirulina?

Spirulina is commonly referred to a a blue-green algae, which are actually bacteria that have the ability to perform photosynthesis and get energy form the sun. So even though spirulina has plant-like qualities it's not technically a plant, it's a bacteria. In that sense, spirulina is sort of like mushrooms - seems like a plant, but in a weird sort of mysterious way, it's something else.

Spirulina can be found growing in warm, fresh water. Climate is very important for Spirulina, which is why you won't find it at all in colder climates naturally. It's also extremely sensitive to the environment - although it should be warm, too much sunlight is bad.

What to Avoid When Buying Spirulina

As usual, while doing my research I found that things are not always what they seem. Here are some things to watch out for:

  1. Spirulina that smells like urine
    Urea is used to increase spirulina production, and if too much is used it can actually give a "pee" smell to the spirulina powder. This is a pretty obvious thing to avoid.
  2. Spirulina falsely claiming to be from the US
    Most spirulina comes from China. There are some companies that set up import companies in the US to import the spirulina from China, and then claim that the spirulina comes from the US. I discovered this by researching one of the brands and learning it's owned by Chinese importer with a US import office. Chinese food and beverage brands have been caught doing all sorts of weird things, including the 2008 Chinese milk scandal, that resulted in 54,000 children being hospitalized. If the brand is willing to lie about where the product is from, in my opinion their product can't be trusted. I recommend always researching parent companies of ingredient brands before purchasing for your business.
  3. Spirulina that is brown and smells burnt
    Some spirulina is over-processed with heat to create the powder, which essentially burns it until it turns brown. Good spirulina should be bright green/blue. Look for freeze dried spirulina if buying powder, avoid it if it looks brown.
  4. Spirulina grown as animal feed
    It's a common practice to grow spirulina as fish food or animal feed, since it's high in protein and can be grown cheaply in waste water. Spirulina that comes from waste water may be high in heavy metals and other harmful compounds. To be safe, ask your spirulina supplier for COA (certificate of analysis). If they are hesitant to provide one, it's probably a good sign you should avoid it.

Green vs Blue Spirulina

When shopping for Spirulina you will find two major options - Green spirulina, or Blue spirulina, the blue usually being much more expensive.

Green (technically blue-green) spirulina is what we refer to as the "full spectrum" spirulina, meaning it is spirulina in it's most natural form with all of the various nutrients. Blue spirulina is the pure, extracted phycocyanin from green spirulina. Phycocyanin is a phytonutrient that gives "blue-green" algae it's "blue" color. It's a powerful antioxidant and is high in protein and other nutrients.

So, when you purchase blue spirulina, it's much higher priced because you are actually only buying a small portion of the overall spirulina that was harvested. Additionally, the process itself of extracting phycocyanin is costly.

Nutrient wise, "full spectrum" green spirulina is higher in nutrients and much more affordable, so it's the clear choice if just looking at purely cost vs health benefits. However, green spirulina isn't as vibrantly colored as blue when adding to food and beverages, and it also can contain a slight taste and smell. The best way I can describe it is that it tastes slightly like a fresh water pond. I actually like the taste, but some people are turned off by it, and it can influence the taste slightly of a juice or smoothie.

Full spectrum green spirulina is a highly nutrient dense food-source, packed with protein and plenty of Vitamin B's, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, and Vitamin D. It really is the super super food. Blue spirulina also contains a lot of protein and vitamins, but not as much variety as green.

I sampled eight different Spirulina brands. I rated them based on sensory factors (smell, color, taste) out of 10 points.

Important Note: E3Live BrainOn product is not actually Spirulina, it is an extract that includes phycocyanin. But, when I asked juice bar owners about which type of Spirulina they use, this was one of the products mentioned. So I'm including it in the list, even though technically it's not spirulina.

In my opinion, the bottom 3-4 are all clearly worse than the top 3:

  1. Royal Spirulina - 10/10
  2. E3Live - 9/10 (technically not spirulina - the BrainOn product is an extract that contains phycocyanin as noted above)
  3. Vimergy - 6/10
  4. Spirulina Manna - 6/10
  5. Terrasoul - 3/10
  6. Micro Ingredients - 2/10
  7. Zazzee - 2/10
  8. Kates Naturals - 2/10

What is the Best Spirulina?

The best spirulina I could find (by far) is from a brand called Royal Spirulina. Their freeze dried spirulina powder is bright and vibrant and very high in nutrients, due to a proprietary process of harvesting the spirulina that leaves the cell walls in-tact. There's just something about it that seems magical. In my opinion it's far better than even the most expensive brands of spirulina labeled as organic.

The founder Paul was very helpful to me while researching spirulina, and he pointed me towards lots of interesting brands and information regarding spirulina. I'm very happy to have his brand on the juice bar marketplace, and I look forward to everyone of our Goodnature Family giving it a try.

Please comment below if you have any thoughts!




Thank you very much Charlie, for this informative article on Spirulina. It was very helpful for me when you said you tried almost all brands of spirulina and filtered out the Royal Spirulina. I was actually looking to buy Spirulina in form of tablets rather than powder which is a little hard to mix with foods or cosume it directly. If you could suggest a tablet form of Spirulina, I would be greatly appreciate it.

Jun 11, 2024

Thank you very much! I was wondered where to even begin with finding the purest best form of Spirulina- appreciate your work and research on this topic!!

Apr 24, 2024

Thank you!

Apr 20, 2024
Sherry sobek

Thank you for your research!

Mar 10, 2024

Thank you so much for sharing your information on the subject Spirulina. I am from Ghana, West Africa.

Feb 5, 2024
Dharmesh B.

A Great Knowledge provided by publisher, Very much thanks for this Article.

Jan 29, 2024

Are you able to explain why you gave Vimergy 6/10 and Royal 10/10? I just want to be well informed on the differences you found since I just started drinking the Vimergy.

Oct 27, 2023
Charlie Wettlaufer
Goodnature logo badge

This was based on my personal preference. Vimergy seems kind of dark / burnt

Oct 30, 2023

good morning this is Raja, I'm a intermediate student, with in small budget, I want to Start Spirulina Cultivation to support my father financial struggles, I'm expecting a very basic profit, Is it 2023 right time to start spirulin?

Oct 18, 2023
Robin Frey
Goodnature logo badge

Hi Raja, We haven't done the research to be able to support an opinion on that, however, we have seen a rise in public interest for spirulina. Good luck!

Oct 18, 2023
Marilyn Metcalfe

I would like to know if it is necessary to take 1 Tbsp of the ROYAL SPIRULINA? Is 1 tsp enough? Also, should it be stored in the cabinet, refrigerator, or freezer?

Sep 21, 2023
Robin Frey
Goodnature logo badge

Hi Marilyn,
Some experts recommend refrigerating spirulina after the package is opened to help preserve the amino acids, but if you plan on consuming it quickly, it is safely stored in a dry place at room temperature.

Below is a list of some of the essential minerals you receive in 10 gram (~1 tablespoon) of dried Spirulina compared with more traditional sources:

Iron: 5.4 mg – more iron than beef (recommended daily iron consumption) – M 8mg F 18mg
Potassium: 114 mg – more potassium than bananas (recommended potassium intake) 4700 mg
Calcium: 10 mg – more calcium than whole milk (recommended calcium intake) 1100 mg
Magnesium: 20 mg – more magnesium than walnuts (recommended magnesium) M 400 mg W 350 mg
Zinc: 0.2 mg – more zinc than spinach (zinc) M 11 mg W 8 mg
Spirulina does not replace a healthy diet but helps to balance out deficiencies and gives a great boost of energy.

Sep 21, 2023
On which online is available
Sep 13, 2023
Princess Porpoise

Is spirulina safe for a woman with hormone receptive breast cancer? Does it increase or decrease estrogen?

Sep 8, 2023
Robin Frey
Goodnature logo badge

Spirulina contains essential hormone-balancing nutrients, including calcium, magnesium and potassium. I have not read anything to suggest that spirulina would not be safe for someone with hormone receptive breast cancer, however, you should always discuss any supplement additions with your doctor. I have not found any studies to show that spirulina either increases or decreases estrogen levels, however, it has been reported that taking spirulina helps to balance hormones. Hope this helps 😄

Sep 8, 2023

We’re can I buy the royal spirulina

Aug 14, 2023
Robin Frey
Goodnature logo badge

You can find it on the Goodnature Marketplace here: https://www.goodnature.com/products/category/marketplace-spirulina

Aug 14, 2023

For an extended period, I've been collaborating with numerous athletes, tackling the issue of inflammation. Despite trying various approaches with moderate success, the introduction of Royal Spirulina yielded astonishing results, reducing recovery time threefold compared to our previous methods. The company owner's expertise in nutrition and unwavering passion provided us with valuable insights to enhance our athletes' performance. I express my gratitude to Good Nature for connecting us with products and individuals who share their dedication to purity and quality.

Aug 3, 2023

I take Royal Spirulina for some time and I love it! Its not just the best product of Spirulina , the founder and person behind is producing it with high knowledge and ethics. What gives another great vibe to the product as an priceless add on.

Jul 16, 2023
Let’s Juicing

Very informative. Good to know when buying for future us. Thank you.

Jun 16, 2023