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I know microalgae have not less protein and starch, grow quickly, require less. So, is it possible to use them for producing food (replace rice and wheat) and live on it?

Currently, I only saw people eat it as an extra-nutrition.

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I don't see why microalgae couldn't be a main food source (putting aside the taste factor).

It contains many different lipids, carbohydrates, proteins and other essential nutrients that are digestible and would be beneficial to humans. I do know that microalgae has a very high lipid content (hence why they're often harvested for biofuels), but it can nonetheless provide nutritional value (ie. feed a starving man).

However, not how this is completely different from living solely off of microalgae. This likely wouldn't be possible, as us humans cannot synthesize all nutrients that we need from scratch. These nutrients are deemed essential nutrients. This problem usually arises when your diet is too restricted to certain types of food. So whether it's microalgae or any other type of consumable, you wouldn't be able to live by only eating that thing.

Another related problem is that growing microalgae is more difficult than it would seem, as is once again usually encountered in second-generation biofuel manufacturing. Temperature, light, cell density, nutrients, and much more must be precisely managed to obtain a increasingly growing population of microalgae. The pros and cons of farming microalgae for billion of hungry people would have to be contrasted with other current agricultures, like corn, soy and rice.

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  • $\begingroup$ do you have any idea whether algae don't provide the essential nutrients? a lot of animals only eat algae. $\endgroup$ – shigeta Dec 17 '13 at 5:07
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    $\begingroup$ as i knew, the germany use Chlorellaceae for food during the World war 2, the problem is can we relied on it for long term use $\endgroup$ – jyf1987 Mar 3 '14 at 3:34
  • $\begingroup$ @shigeta different animals have different metabolisms and different essential nutrients. For example, most mammals can synthesize Vitamin C from other nutrients. Humans and other primates have to find it in the food they eat, they can't synthesize it. $\endgroup$ – Charles E. Grant Apr 15 at 1:33
  • $\begingroup$ while the nutritional profile can change there are also many microalgae and you would have to look pretty hard to find a microbe that is missing, say an essential amino acid. its more of a problem finding an occasional compound that might not be healthy for human consumption , say. in terms of making food nutritionally competent supplementing with vitamins minerals and fats is really common in food. its not technically prohibitive to add a vitamin... $\endgroup$ – shigeta Apr 16 at 2:54

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