“I’m wondering what your thoughts are regarding the benefits of phytoplankton. Specifically Karen Phytoplankton (the FB page is Phytoplankton Biotech). It has come on the market here recently with some amazing testimonials, especially concerning use for digestive problems, skin problems and fibromyalgia. Thanks in advance, Rosie!” asks Enlightened Eater Facebook fan Jennifer Burnham.
Jennifer, phytoplankton, from the Greek words phyto (plant) and plankton (made to wander or drift), are microscopic organisms that live in watery environments, both salty and fresh. All phytoplankton can be classified as algae. But while most varieties of phytoplankton may offer benefit, not all algae is beneficial. Both phytoplankton and other varieties of algae can yield toxic blooms – not desirable in any way.
This particular product, Karen Phytoplankton, though, is produced through aquaculture so the conditions are controlled and have no toxic consequences.
Phytoplankton is actually the bottom of the food chain for marine life. Small fish eat it and then they’re eaten by larger fish and so on. Phytoplankton are indeed a rich source of nutrients and for vegetarians, they’re the one way to consume the type of omega-3s found in marine sources. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), one omega-3 fat, is especially important for pregnant women and the developing fetus.
But – and this is a big but – the amount of omega-3s contained in these particular products is minute (with no DHA listed). According to the product’s website, 100 grams of this phytoplankton contains 19 grams of fat and of this, 43 % or 8.17 grams are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), another type of omega-3 fat.
Sounds like a reasonable amount, doesn’t it? When you do the math, though, it is anything but.
Well, consider that a 30 day supply of Karen Phytoplankton contains 15 grams of phytoplankton or a measly 1.2 grams of EPA. That’s a 30-day supply which costs $60. That means that the daily dose is only 40 milligrams of EPA. (Compare this to 3 ounces of cooked salmon with its 1500 millgrams of omega-3s.) But there are certainly other vegan supplements containing significantly more DHA and EPA, some with ten times the amount of DHA at the same price.
I don’t get it.
There are other nutrients as well including an assortment of antioxidants, but again, how much are you getting in your daily dose of just half a gram? Consider an ounce is equal to 28 grams or 56 times the daily dose.
Even without doing the math, the website and testimonials raise red flags right off the bat. The About page on the website states, “The majority of people who eat Phytoplankton report life changing feelings of wellbeing in a short period time, ranging from the same day to three weeks. Most of the people who eat our Phytoplankton claim this food becomes their staple and their base source of nutrition. Not only do most people who eat our Phytoplankton enjoy eating it as a daily ritual, they also are more than happy to share and tell all their friends and acquaintances about how it makes them feel in a positive way. This to us is the biggest measuring stick on any product.”
Changed feelings of wellbeing on the same day as taking the supplement? Placebo effect, anyone?
The testimonials talk about it being a cure for insomnia, a treatment to improve concentration and everything from acid reflux and Candida.
Andrew from New Brunswick writes, “We still go out for wing night, we still have pizza. In the past, those things would definitely would have caused a problem. Last night we had a donair and a chicken alfredo pizza from Papa Johns and no issues at all. … I would definitely recommend this as an alternative to pharmaceuticals with a similar issue as me. It has really made a difference in my quality of life.”
This product, in my opinion, definitely fits into the Give Me a Break category.
Have you tried any of these supplements. Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section below.