Microalgae present a potential to provide pharmaceutical products, such as; amino acids, carotenes, proteins, lipids, vitamins and antioxidants.
Microalgae, specifically S. limacinum and Crypthecodinium cohnii, are rich in compounds of omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which is important to repair and prevent cardiovascular diseases.
The Arthrospira species are used for their high protein content and nutritional value, in addition these microalgae have therapeutic application, promoting the relief of hyperlipidemia (increased concentration of lipids in the blood), the reduction of hypertension, the protection against kidney damage and the growth and promotion of intestinal Lactobacillus. In the Chlorella species produced by more than 70 companies, the most important substance is β-1,3-glucan, which is an active immunostabilizer, a free radical that reduces blood lipids; Other therapeutic effects have been attributed to it for its effectiveness in the treatment of gastric ulcers, prevention against atherosclerosis and its anti-tumor actions.
Beta-carotene is a precursor of vitamin A, which is essential for many functions in the human body, such as vision, growth and development of bones and acts as a coenzyme, similarly, has functions in the balance of the hormones.
The antioxidant capacity of microalgae arouses interest in the therapy of diseases related to oxidation, such as macular degeneration or various types of inflammation, as well as in the prevention of certain tumor developments (skin, breast and colon, among others) , which gives these molecules value as food additives.
Antibiotics and antifungals represent another group of algae products with a potential economic interest. Scenedesmus oblique has been used in postoperative care; Asterionella extracts showed antiviral and anti fungal effects. Other algae such as Chaetocerus lauderi, Chaetocerus socialis, or Fragilaria pinnata showed significant anti-fungal activity. Finally, microalgae extracts such as Chlorella, Stichococcus mirabilis, and C. reinhardtii have also demonstrated antiviral effects.
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