Where does Spirulina grow?

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Spirulina is a microscopic algae that flourishes in warm climates and warm alkaline water in a high PH environments. Spirulina thrives at a pH around 8.5 + and a temperature around 30 °C (86 °F). Occurring naturally in tropical and subtropical lakes with a high concentrations of carbonate and bicarbonate, they are able to make their own food and do not need a living energy or organic carbon source.

Flamingos Feed on Spirulina Lake Chad

Spirulina blooms naturally in alkaline or soda lakes around the world. Historical records document traditional peoples harvesting and consuming spirulina from lakes in Mexico, Africa and Asia. Some of the largest natural spirulina lakes are in Central Africa around Lake Chad (pictured above) and in East Africa along the Great Rift Valley. Under normal water conditions, spirulina may be one of many algal species. But the more alkaline water becomes, the more inhospitable to other life forms, allowing spirulina to flourish as a single species.

However Spirulina -- like any blue-green algae -- can be contaminated with toxic substances called microcystins. It can also absorb heavy metals from the water where it is grown. For these reasons, and also the potential of harvesting other potentially harmful species of algae, much of the Spirulina used in health supplements today is produced in a specialized Spirulina farm, where water conditions and species can be controlled.