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Chlorella vulgaris

Chlorella Nutrient Content and Potential Health Benefits

Discover the nutrient content and potential health benefits of chlorella as we take a look into the fascinating properties of this superfood.

What is chlorella?

Chlorella is a single-celled fresh water algae. It has a long history of use as a food source due to being extremely high in both micronutrients such as minerals and beneficial macronutrients including protein. The types Chlorella vulgari
and Chlorella pyrenoidosa are most commonly used. Chlorella must be consumed in a pre-prepared supplement form due to having a cell wall which is otherwise difficult to break down in the human digestive system [i].

Chlorella nutrient content

Chlorella contains all essential amino acids which will help contribute to sufficient protein intake as part of a balanced diet [ii].

B12 to support energy and the nervous system. However, the B12 is different to that found in animal sources for example meat, dairy and eggs. The vitamin B12 content in chlorella does vary slightly across studies. There is some debate as to whether Chlorella is a viable B12 substitute for vegetarians and vegans. A large amount would also need to be consumed as a sole substitute for B12 [iii]. It is suggested the B12 content is not produced by the algae itself, but rather by microorganisms which live on the plant or in the soil, as such the B12 content thus depends massively on the growing conditions and presence of these microorganisms.

Chlorella can be a good source of iron. It is also a good source of vitamin C, which helps you absorb iron [iv].

Chlorella provides small amounts of magnesium, zinc, copper, potassium, calcium, folic acid and other B vitamins [v].

As with other algae types, chlorella contains some omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids[vi].

The name Chlorella is taken from the Greek χλώρος, chlōros/ khlōros, meaning green, and the Latin diminutive suffix ella, meaning small.

Therapeutic benefits of chlorella

Inflammation, heavy metals, cholesterol and cardiovascular health

Chlorella has proven to be helpful in removing heavy metals from the body in animal studies [vii] [viii] [ix]. Heavy metals include some elements that are essential in small amounts, such as iron and copper, but these metal and other ‘heavy’ metals like cadmium, mercury and lead can be toxic in larger amounts. In animals, Chlorella has been found to weaken the burden of heavy metal toxicity on organs including the liver, brain and kidneys [x] .

Additionally, chlorella has been shown to help lower the amount of other harmful chemicals that are found in food. For example, dioxin, a hormone disruptor that can contaminate animals in the food supply [xi]. Antioxidants in chlorella were also thought to lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases [xii]. The antioxidants in Chlorella include chlorophyll, vitamin C, beta-carotene, lycopene and lutein [xiii]. Blood pressure was seen to be lowered by Chlorella in one study [xiv]. Evidence from clinical trials suggests Chlorella can help to balance unfavourable blood lipid panels such as high cholesterol [xv]. It contains niacin; a B vitamin known to lower cholesterol [xvi].

Immune system support

In a small human study, participants produced more antibodies when taking chlorella than when they took a placebo. Antibodies help fight foreign invaders in your body, meaning this finding is quite promising regarding immune health [xvii]. In another small, eight-week study, healthy adults who took chlorella showed markers of increased immune activity [xviii].

Gut health

Contains specific polysaccharides and fibre for gut function [xix].

Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Respiratory diseases affecting the lungs may be ameliorated with Chlorella [xx]. Use has been suggested for COPD [xxi] (14).


Be aware of the source of the chlorella. Good quality supplements from quality brands greatly reduces risk of toxicity and contamination.

Recommended For

Inflammation , Immunity , Cholesterol , Cardiovascular Health / Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)

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