Article at a glance:
- Chlorella is known for its ability to boost the immune system. It also has a strong antiviral activity that may help protect us from the threat of COVID-19.
- Studies so far have shown that chlorella may be able to inhibit COVID-19. It may also help reduce viral RNA load and the severity of respiratory viral infections.
- Given its amazing health benefits, chlorella is easy and safe to incorporate into a healthy diet. Choosing the best quality supplement to support your immune system and overall health is important.
There has been increased interest in the relationship between chlorella and COVID-19 — specifically in how the blue-green algae may help us fight this dangerous virus.
This is because three years since the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic, the novel coronavirus continues to mutate and pose a threat to our health.
So, apart from vaccines and safety protocols, people are looking for natural ways to increase their innate immunity — which is crucial when it comes to fighting a viral infection like COVID-19.
This is where chlorella comes in. Touted as a nutrient-dense superfood, it is packed with key nutrients to help boost immune function and overall human health.
How Does Chlorella Help the Immune System?
There is extensive research on the amazing health benefits of chlorella. In particular, chlorella is noted to have immunomodulatory and antiviral properties.
This can be attributed to the nutritional profile of chlorella. It contains vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, iron, selenium, protein, essential fatty acids, beta-carotene, and amino acids like glutamine — all of which are essential for immune cells to grow and function properly.
Immune-Boosting Effects of Chlorella
According to studies, chlorella supplementation may help by improving mucosal immunity, enhancing the Th1 immune response, and boosting the ability of natural killer cells/NK cells to kill intracellular parasites.
Chlorella is also a great source of functional foods. It contains bioactive compounds like polysaccharides and glycoproteins that help stimulate the immune system. One study found that female athletes who took 6 grams of chlorella pyrenoidosa daily for 4 weeks had higher IgA (immunoglobulin A) antibody levels.
In addition, chlorella helps boost the presence of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract. This is where we produce antimicrobial proteins, so an overgrowth of harmful bacteria can negatively affect your immune responses.
Moreover, chlorella has one of the most valuable bioactive compounds — chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is great for detoxification and has broad-spectrum antiviral activity against herpes simplex virus, hepatitis C virus, West Nile virus, and even human coronavirus diseases.
Does Chlorella Kill Viruses?
Yes, but it depends on the virus. Studies have shown that chlorella has an anti-viral activity that may be effective against the dengue, mumps, measles, and herpes simplex virus. It may also help protect against enveloped viruses such as influenza and human coronavirus diseases that can cause respiratory infections.
Can Chlorella Inhibit COVID-19 Infection?
Even though current research on chlorella and COVID-19 is limited and in the early stages, the results have been very promising in fighting the coronavirus disease.
In one study, Vero cells infected with 50 or 100 TCID50/ml of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV2) were treated with 70 micrograms of chlorella vulgaris.
According to the results, chlorella powder produced in vitro inhibition of SARS-CoV2 in both assays. Viral RNA was significantly reduced 24 hours post-infection. Viral load reductions were also noted after 48 and 72 hours. The biggest reduction in viral load was observed 96 hours after SARS-CoV2 infection.
The experiment was also done with Spirulina algae extract. It only inhibited SARS-CoV2 when viral concentration was at 100 TCID50/ml. Viral RNA load reduction was also relatively lower — with the greatest difference noted 72 hours post-infection.
These findings suggest that chlorella has a high antiviral activity that may help fight against COVID-19.
Chlorella as Nutrient Support
Another study had participants supplement with vitamins, minerals, plant extracts, and algae extracts, including chlorella. After 90 days, the research group was found to have a significantly lower incidence of acute respiratory infections compared to the placebo group.
Researchers noted that the vitamins, minerals, and plant-based nutrients helped support participants’ immune systems. Since the body has a hard time detecting novel coronavirus (until it’s too late), it is beneficial to boost your innate immunity with nutrient-rich supplements.
In particular, vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that can neutralize the reactive oxygen species released by viral infections. This is crucial since COVID-19 infections have also been noted to create a free radical storm.
Meanwhile, vitamin D helps strengthen tight junctions to avoid viral entry. Zinc is also an important mineral that helps the growth and function of T, B, and natural killer cells/NK cells.
The Role of COVID-19 Spike Proteins
A healthy immune system with increased antibody production can thwart COVID-19 spike proteins from binding to ACE2 cell receptors throughout the body, including the lungs, kidney, liver, and gastrointestinal tract.
COVID-19 vaccines further enhance these mechanisms. MRNA vaccines signal your cells to produce their own COVID-19 spike proteins. This triggers your immune system to create antibodies to fight the novel coronavirus. MRNA differs from DNA, so these vaccines will not alter your genetic sequence.
Potential Mechanisms of Chlorella on COVID-19
Although no definitive study yet shows how chlorella can fight COVID-19, we can gain valuable insight into similar studies on spirulina. This is because they have a similar nutritional profile, and spirulina is also noted as having potent antiviral activity.
A recent study used photosynthetically controlled spirulina to treat macrophages and monocytes. This reduced TNF-alpha secretion levels by 70% and 40%, respectively.
During SARS-CoV2, these macrophages and monocytes release inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-alpha and IL-6, which can trigger a cytokine storm.
According to scientists, the cytokine storm is responsible for some of the severe symptoms of the novel coronavirus disease, including acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). TNF-alpha can also stimulate the release of nitric oxide, which can cause vascular leak syndrome that leads to organ failure and death.
So the ability of algae like spirulina or potentially chlorella to reduce TNF-alpha secretion levels can be very beneficial in the fight against COVID-19.
How to Use Chlorella to Boost Your Immune System and Fight COVID-19
Though studies on chlorella and COVID-19 are limited, we have sufficient scientific evidence that establishes the beneficial effect of this microalgae on our immune health.
With high nutritional value, chlorella can help boost immunity. This gives us a better fighting chance against COVID-19 and other respiratory infections.
In addition, chlorella is regarded as safe for consumption. As algae-derived nutraceuticals, chlorella is also easily produced via sustainable means.
It’s important to note that chlorella is not meant to treat viral infections. Rather, it can help complement a healthy diet and lifestyle. It can also address any nutrient deficiencies impacting one’s immune function.
If you choose to take chlorella as a food or dietary supplement, just make sure to choose the best type available.
For instance, Taiwan-sourced chlorella has better quality control compared to other countries. Chlorella is also best consumed raw in tablet or powder form, incorporated in healthy and tasty recipes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Take Chlorella with Vitamin C?
Chlorella is already a rich source of vitamin C. However, if you want to increase protection against COVID-19, you may still want to boost your vitamin C intake.
However, some sources recommend against taking chlorella and vitamin C simultaneously. One option would be to take chlorella at least 30 minutes before meals. Then, you can take vitamin C with your meal or after eating.
What Vitamins Help Post-COVID?
Even with breakthrough infections, COVID can still leave you feeling weak and easily fatigued. One way to boost recovery is to provide your body with essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. This includes vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and protein — which help boost immune function.
The Benefits of Taking Chlorella for Fighting COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic reminded us of the importance of maintaining a healthy immune system. As such, it’s no surprise that scientists and consumers alike have focused on natural supplements like chlorella and their potential health benefits.
And even though there’s still so much we need to learn about chlorella and COVID-19, there’s no reason why we can’t take advantage of its immune-boosting effects today. Thankfully, this nutrient-dense superfood can be easily incorporated into your daily regimen – giving you a better fighting chance against emerging variants of the novel coronavirus.
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