Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Algae, You and Your Pets

How often do you think about algae? If you're like me, you probably only think of it when you're at the beach, if at all. I really wasn't aware that primarily in Asia it is being studied as a source of natural energy and health. Nor did I know that it has been used for 50 years by Olympic Athletes. No, I don't know which ones. It has also allegedly been used by NASA astronauts. So, now you're wondering what that has to do with you and your pets. 

Frankly, I'm always in search of new sources of energy. Life moves at such a fast pace that meeting deadlines, keeping up with interview requests, speaking engagements, etc., is fun but if you're like I am, you really need energy to keep up with your busy life. Your pets do, too. Whether they're involved in a sport (did you know that cats do agility, too?) or just racing around the house or playing fetch in the yard, energy is important.

I was recently made aware of a fairly new (6 years old) company that's practically in my back yard. ENERGYbits® is based in Boston and they are putting algae to work for us and our pets. 

ENERGYbits are a performance fuel/food for runners, endurance racers and the rest of us who have busy lives. The small pills are made of 100% organic spiralina algae and are absorbed within 10 minutes. Believe it or not, they are loaded with 40 vitamins, including all the B vitamins, Omega-3 and "the highest concentration of protein in the world."  The company insists that they deliver a steady stream of mental focus and physical energy without sugar, caffeine, chemicals, soy, gluten, animal products or stomach distress. They can be used as a snack or meal replacement.

Well, frankly, I'd be hard-pressed to used them as a meal replacement for myself or for Aimee. 

The company sent samples of both their ENERGYbits® and RECOVERYbits®, the latter is made from 100% organic chorella algae, which has the highest concentration of chlorophyll and RNA/DNA in the world. It is supposed to build the immune system, prevent colds and speed recovery from athletics or injury. It also is supposed to remove toxins.
Photo © Gary Rohde

All of the bits are swallowed like supplements but they're not a supplement. Algae is a plant which is grown organically and dried into small tablets. While you and your family can consume them, so can your cats and dogs. 

The information accompanying the samples I received pointed out that it's better to swallow them although pets often like the taste.  I put it to the test. Aimee came up on my lap for a cuddle, as she does throughout the day. I opened a packet, offered her one and she sniffed it. Then she delicately took it from my hand, chewed it, swallowed it, seemed satisfied and went off to investigate the whereabouts of one of her toys.  I decided to see what would happen if I consumed it the way she did.  Trust me, the company is right. You want to swallow it unthawed, untasted.  

We haven't tested it long enough to know if we have increased energy or if our immune systems are improved. Winter in New England is a better test of the latter since most of us walk around with pneumonia thanks to the weather. 
Photo © Frank Incremona

I can tell you that these bits are pricey but what isn't these days.  I can also tell you that it passed my cat's taste test. 

If you're involved in dog sports (or cat agility) or have a particularly active pet, or one who can use an energy boost, you may want to give this a try. Dieticians have been quoted approvingly. If you have any hesitation, talk to your veterinarian. 

To learn more or to order some for yourself and your family, both two-legged and four-legged, point your browser to:  www.energybits.com

NOTE: I received no payment of any sort in return for this review. I received only samples of the two products so that I might test them. The opinions expressed are my own.


Tanya Kuritz said...

Darlene, for the full disclosure, I am a pro in algal biotech, with academic publications and a now retired name. Neither Spirulina (Arthrospira) nor Chlorella are any more significant as vitamins, mineral or nutrient sources than, say, spinach. The cultures were obviously chosen for two reasons: availability of methods of mass cultivation (criticality # 1) and availability of marketing support, e.g. Papers that state nitrite the composition and lack of toxicity. There are algal species that do yield high omega content along with digestible proteins, e.g. Nanochloropsis, but those are hard to grow, hard to harvest and even harder to process into digestible food. Many fish farms are using Dunaliella and Nannochloropsis to achieve red flesh in salmon and high omega content which salmon does on its own by eating Nannochloropsis, but salmon can digest the alga while dogs, cows and humans cannot. This is why processing of algal biomass is needed to turn it into food. Spirulina or Chlorella do not need to be processed, like spinach, since their content is not too different either. BTW the omega enriched juices in the super sore have algal omega source, so does cosmetics, especially of Israeli origin, where algal biotech has been in good standing. As a pro, I would only say that the algal supplements are likely to be safe if the method of harvesting does not include any "wonders". I would certainly hold back on the claim of their nutritional superiority over spinach.

Darlene said...

Thank you for your expertise, Tanya. I am hopelessly uneducated when it comes to this sort of thing, which is why I suggested asking your veterinarian and said point blank that I didn't try it long enough to know if it worked or not. I know it's expensive (at least for me). I truly appreciate your comment. Again, my deepest thanks.

Rescuegal said...

Darlene, I enjoyed reading this article because I enjoy your style of writing. What I know about algae and its value to animals and humans could easily fit into a thimble. My only experience with it is from years ago when a Baton Rouge friend was touting the wonders of blue green algae for human wellness. She had recently recovered from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and felt this product had truly helped her to regain her health. She gave me some of the product to try. I honestly could not tell that it made any difference in the way I felt and to continue getting and taking the products would have required that I take out a major loan to pay for them. It will be interesting to see if taking your samples will make any difference in how you feel. It is good that they passed the Aimee taste test because I know she is pretty particular about food/treat likes and dislikes. Hug her for me, please.

Darlene said...

Rescuegal, thank you for your candid comments. I never expect a "magic wand." The product exists and I wrote about it candidly. I'm not a scientist. I have no idea of how it's made. Thanks to Tanya Kuritz, whose comment is above yours, I have a much better idea. Perhaps your friend had a placebo effect. The mind can do amazing things. OTOH, years ago at a Nutrition Conference, I heard a veterinarian from New Zealand talk about research done on green lipid something-or-other and the research was positive. I think for the average consumer all of this is very confusing.
I will happily hug Aimee for you!