Spirulina Amino Acid Profile

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I’ve plotted a typical spirulina amino acid profile below, the essential amino acids have a star beside them (*).

This plot was created with our amino acid profile comparison tool.

spirulina amino acid profile

(Data Source)

Complete List of Spirulina’s Amino Acids

In case it’s a bit tough to see the names on the chart, here’s the data in table form instead.

 % of total amino acids
Alanine7.9
Arginine7.3
Aspartic Acid10.1
Cystine1.2
Glutamic Acid14.7
Glycine5.4
Histidine*1.9
Isoleucine*5.6
Leucine*8.7
Lysine*5.3
Methionine*2
Phenylalanine*4.9
Proline4.2
Serine5.2
Threonine*3.4
Tryptophan*1.6
Tyrosine4.5
Valine*6.1

Is Spirulina a Complete Protein?

The main thing that determines whether or not a protein is “complete” is the relative percentage of each essential amino acid group.

Here’s a table that compares the essential amino acids of spirulina to a complete protein (defined by the WHO).

 
Complete Protein (min %)
Spirulina (%)
Histidine1.51.9
Isoleucine35.6
Leucine5.98.7
Lysine4.55.3
Methionine+Cysteine
1.63.2
Phenylalanine+Tyrosine
39.4
Threonine2.33.4
Valine3.96.1

Based on those numbers, spirulina is a complete protein.

The only issue is how are you going to eat a lot of it? While seaweed is nutritious, typically we only sprinkle it on top of meals or have a few dried pieces of it.

So even though it’s a great protein source, you can really only get a small amount of your daily protein from it.

Still, if you can add it on top of other foods, it sure won’t hurt.

Overall Summary of Spirulina’s Amino Acid Profile

Spirulina has a great, balance profile, about as good as quinoa’s amino acid profile. It is considered a complete protein, as it has all the essential amino acids in significant amounts.

To get a sense of how it compares to animal protein sources, let’s compare it to whey.

The relative level of each amino acid is similar as in whey, except for a few exceptions. Spirulina has:

  • Relatively high levels of arginine and glycine
  • Relatively low levels of threonine and lysine
  • A slightly lower amount of glutamic acid

Remember that threonine and lysine are essential amino acids, so that’s not great for spirulina. But at the same time, they’re still comparable protein sources overall, just whey’s maybe a tiny bit better.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance nutrition writer. I've been vegan for years and try to make life easier for others by sharing what I've learned.

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