Bioactive compounds, e.g., protein, polyunsaturated fatty acids, carotenoids, vitamins and minerals, found in commercial form of microalgal biomass (e.g., powder, flour, liquid, oil, tablet, or capsule forms) may play important roles in functional food (e.g., dairy products, desserts, pastas, oil-derivatives, or supplements) or feed (for cattle, poultry, shellfish, and fish) with favorable outcomes upon human health, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antiviral effects, as well as prevention of gastric ulcers, constipation, anemia, diabetes, and hypertension. However, scale up remains a major challenge before commercial competitiveness is attained. Notwithstanding the odds, a few companies have already overcome market constraints, and are successfully selling extracts of microalgae as colorant, or supplement for food and feed industries. Strong scientific evidence of probiotic roles of microalgae in humans is still lacking, while scarce studies have concluded on probiotic activity in marine animals upon ingestion. Limitations in culture harvesting and shelf life extension have indeed constrained commercial viability. There are, however, scattered pieces of evidence that microalgae play prebiotic roles, owing to their richness in oligosaccharides—hardly fermented by other members of the intestinal microbiota, or digested throughout the gastrointestinal tract of humans/animals for that matter. However, consistent applications exist only in the dairy industry and aquaculture. Despite the underlying potential in formulation of functional food/feed, extensive research and development efforts are still required before microalgae at large become a commercial reality in food and feed formulation.
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