We are completely bowled over with our favourite, sustainable, discovery: Marine Phytoplankton!
Sustainable foods with high nutritional value, and that are gut friendly, make for a powerful brew. We have been learning more and more about marine phytoplankton over the last few months and it is becoming very apparent that we like what we hear.
Marine Phytoplankton...sounds a bit whacky..!
Not really. Marine Phytoplankton are single-celled, photosynthesising, microscopic organisms that live in the upper part of almost all oceans and freshwater bodies. Simples. They live in the upper surface layers where they have access to sunlight for energy photosynthesis. In fact, marine phytoplankton are actually one of the most important suppliers of the earth’s oxygen, producing between 50%-85% of the lovely stuff, whilst at the same time absorbing high quantities of CO2. This pretty much makes them one of the key players in oxygen production and CO2 reduction.
Wow, actually they sound great!
Yes, they are and they’re not just great for the environment, they also excel at being nutrient dense and fit for human consumption. A varying array of species of marine phytoplankton provide food for all the magnificent creatures occupying the earth’s watery worlds. Phytoplankton are the primary food source for many crustaceans that fish and larger sea creatures feed on, as well as directly feeding certain species of whales such as whale sharks, who feed heavily on plankton, and grow into enormous creatures averaging around 9 tons in weight and living to around 70 years or more. The reason fish are such great sources of essential fatty acids is because they feed so heavily on phytoplankton and other phytoplankton eating organisms.
Marine phytoplankton is a highly bioavailable food which means it is extremely easy for the body to absorb, requiring very little digestion. This means it’s especially fabulous for people who have compromised digestion due to any kind of degeneration of the gut lining (our favourite topic). The marine phytoplankton can easily enter into your bloodstream and provide essential nutrients to your cells which will help to regenerate & rejuvenate your body at that all important cellular level. Just incredible! Phytoplankton, or let’s just say MP from now on, contain a vast variety of vitamins, minerals, lipids and trace minerals, all of which are essential for optimum health. The recommended daily intake of 4g actually only contains small amounts of vitamins and minerals in relation to the guideline ‘recommended daily intakes’ but as they are all highly bioavailable this means that you will still be benefiting greatly from taking this amount, as you will be absorbing and utilising a high percentage.
Let’s talk about EFAs
The fatty acid content of marine phytoplankton is very interesting as it contains very substantial amounts of EPA which is an omega-3, essential fatty acid. The EPA in MP is also highly bioavailable as it comes packaged with phospholipids, which are a type of fat which make up a large part of all cell membranes. Phospholipids are needed for optimum absorption of EPA and so make the EPA even more bioavailable. Boom.
Marine phytoplankton is also a vegan food as it is simply a form of algae. This is great news for vegans and vegetarians who could struggle to get adequate amounts of certain essential nutrients like omega-3s in the form of EPA. This is interesting as it can be very difficult to get a vegan source of EPA that our bodies can utilise and it is absolutely essential to consume as our bodies cannot synthesise it. Vegan foods provide omega-3s but in the form of ALA which your body then needs to convert into EPA. The human body is not very efficient at doing this, so even if you are eating lots of vegan sources of ALA, you will only be converting a small percentage into the much more valuable EPA.
Oh gosh, you’re going to tell me I need to put spoonfuls of green stuff in my smoothie rendering it undrinkable!!!!!!!!!!!!
I come bearing good news, as the 2 grams (around half a teaspoon) of the MP, that we have diligently sourced and now serve in our restaurants, will provide you with the recommended daily intake of EPA, which is pretty amazing considering most people are seriously lacking an adequate intake of omega-3 fatty acids in their diets. Yet here it is, so readily available in this extremely bioavailable, vegan friendly, luscious and not so bad tasting, emerald green powder.
For optimum nutrition however we recommend 4g per day and this will provide you with between 200mg - 240mg of EPA which is much more than the recommended daily intake, so you will be getting some really optimum amounts of these healing omega-3s as well as many other nutrients and fats.
Whole food supplementation.
MP is pretty much the only daily supplement that we take, and we don’t even like to think of it as a supplement, as it is more like a food. The MP fits in perfectly with our philosophy of getting all your nutrition from whole foods. Taking a myriad of daily supplements can get tiresome and is also ignoring the fact that we have evolved to get our nutrition from foods which contain a complex matrix of components that aid in the metabolism and assimilation of nutrients. A nutrient dense, seasonal, organic diet with a daily dose of MP can really deliver a vast array of whole food nutrition.
Although we cannot get any data on whether MP contains any vitamin D, we have a feeling that consuming MP will help with vitamin D production, which in essence is actually classed as a hormone and proper hormone synthesis requires a well nourished body. Seafood is a great source of vitamin D, and MP are the primary source of food for all sea creatures. So what’s the link. Our hypothesis is that MP could contain vitamin D, although we have no analysis stating that for the MP that we use. However seeing as it could increase the health and therefore the functionality of your cells, it may increase vitamin D production, if you are also getting adequate & safe sun exposure. It requires a healthy cell membrane to register the ultraviolet light from the sun and then a healthy liver and kidney to properly synthesize the vitamin D, so full body health is essential for optimum vitamin D levels.
It is actually surprisingly palatable when whisked into the right concoctions. Currently in The Real Coconut Tulum, we have 3 simple yet very pleasing marine phytoplankton drinks which go down a dream, and none involve ruining your smoothie! We have two x 2oz shots and one virgin cocktail. The simplest way to take it however is by just mixing with lime juice, water and a touch of raw honey if you want to really mask the flavour. Kids seems to be happy to take it when just mixed with freshly pressed orange juice and maybe a touch of sparkling water to give it a bit of fizz.
Nutrition Analysis -
The marine phytoplankton we have sourced has been shown to contain all of the following nutrients.
Minerals: potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iodine, iron, manganese, magnesium, sodium, zinc, sulfur.
Vitamins: C, E, B1, B2, B6, B8, B9, B12
Amino Acids - all 9 essential amino acids are highlighted in bold: alanine, arginine, aspartic acid, cysteine + cystine, glutamic acid, glycine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, proline, serine, threonine, tyrosine, tryptophan, valine.