Article at a glance:
- Chlorella and chlorophyll are closely related, but they have key differences, especially when used as supplements.
- Chlorophyll is a key component of photosynthesis, so it’s present in plants and organisms that make their own food.
- Chlorella has the highest chlorophyll content among all known organisms.
Getting chlorella and chlorophyll confused as the same is quite common and understandable. Their names look and sound almost the same. Supplements made from these sources can also look the same, especially in capsule, tablet, and powder forms.
While the two are significantly related, they actually have several distinct differences. Learn more about their distinct characteristics below and which could be the best dietary supplement for your health needs.
The key to differentiating chlorella and chlorophyll is, of course, learning what they are individually. So here are the basics and common ways to take them as a dietary supplement.
What Is Chlorella?
Chlorella is one of the most popular blue-green algae because it has been a source of nutritional supplements for decades. Mostly found in bodies of freshwater, it’s a single-celled organism with high amounts of protein, vitamins, and minerals.
The nutrients we can get from chlorella make it more unique than most plant-based foods. Its high protein content has garnered the interest of scientists as an amazing nutritional source since the early 1900s.
It was previously determined that protein accounts for more than 55% of chlorella’s dry weight. But a more recent study showed that lab-grown chlorella biomasses could have as much as 65% protein.
Chlorella supplements can also be a good source of vitamins D2 and B12, which aren’t commonly found in plant-based sources. It also has higher contents of folate (vitamin B9) and iron compared to other foods derived from plants. It also contains carotenoids (lutein and beta carotene).
Researchers consider chlorella a whole food because it’s also rich in protein and other essential nutrients the body needs to function well. These include carbohydrates, dietary fibers, nucleic acids, minerals, and fatty acids.
How to Take Chlorella Supplements
Getting the health benefits of chlorella is, thankfully, easy to do these days. It’s widely available in various forms of supplements.
Chlorella tablets and capsules may be the most common ways to take it as a dietary supplement. There may be two main reasons for that. First is because it’s the easiest way to take chlorella supplements. And since each capsule or tablet comes in a specific dose, it’s easy to track how much chlorella you’re taking.
Chlorella powder is also popular because you can have more fun with it. It’s a great addition to smoothies and fruit juices. You can even sprinkle it onto your salad, sandwich, and other savory dishes.
What Is Chlorophyll?
If you can recall your Science classes when you were younger, you’ll remember that chlorophyll is a green pigment and makes plants green. Yet, it also has a vital role in photosynthetic organisms.
Chlorophyll is the major pigment that gives plants their green hue and is found in the organelles called chloroplasts, where energy from sunlight is stored. It also has light-absorbing characteristics, making it a key component in the photosynthesis process.
Blue-green algae, green algae, and cyanobacteria are photosynthetic organisms. Most of them contain high amounts of chlorophyll, too, and they can make their own food by converting sunlight to energy through photosynthesis.
There are several types of chlorophyll, and mainly differ in where they can be found. The two main types are Chlorophylls A and B, which are the most abundant in higher plants and algae. Chlorophyll A can also be found in types C and D, which are present in algae. Chlorophyll E is rare and only found in a few algae species.
Chlorella vs Chlorophyll: How Are They Related?
As we’ve mentioned, chlorella is a green algae species. That means chlorella contains chlorophyll, which helps it photosynthesize as well. What makes their relationship more important is the fact that chlorella is known to have the highest amount of chlorophyll than other organisms studied for their mass cultivation potential.
Can You Take Chlorophyll Supplements Separately?
Studies found chlorophyll on its own has terrific health benefits. Hence, it’s also widely used in supplements. When looking for chlorophyll supplements, your search will most likely lead to liquid chlorophyll products. This is not based on the purest form of the green pigment. These products mainly contain chlorophyllin, which is a semi-synthetic version of chlorophyll with sodium copper salts.
You can also find chlorophyll tablets in many health food stores. Some expert suggestions favor using liquid chlorophyll because the body absorbs it easier, thanks to its water-soluble form and the presence of sodium and copper.
Chlorophyll and Chlorella Health Benefits
Both chlorophyll and chlorella offer incredible benefits that may improve certain health conditions. You can choose to take one or both depending on the specific effects you’re looking for!
1. Skin Health Benefits
Chlorella is rich in antioxidants like vitamin C, which can be a great active ingredient in skincare. The antioxidant properties of vitamin C can provide sun protection, which is great, considering photodamage is a common culprit in skin aging.
Sun damage exacerbates oxidative stress, speeding up skin aging and leading to the early appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. Vitamin C helps boost collagen production, too, so it keeps the skin looking plump and youthful.
Chlorella also contains vitamin E. Its antioxidant activity, especially with the presence of vitamin C, reportedly works wonders for wound healing. Their effect against oxidative stress may help wounds heal faster.
Chlorella vs Chlorophyll for Skin
Chlorophyll derivatives added in skin products applied topically have also shown potential in improving skin health. Chlorophyllin, in particular, may help boost wound healing and reduce its odor as it heals. Another study found it “clinically effective” for mild to moderate acne, with positive effects for large visible pores.
However, the combination of antioxidants and other nutrients in chlorella gives it an advantage over chlorophyll in skincare.
Acne-prone skin may also benefit from chlorella due to its anti-inflammatory properties. A 2015 study showed that lipid extracts from chlorella could inhibit the production of reactive oxygen species (free radicals) and inflammatory mediators, supporting the algae’s anti-acne activity.
This was further supported by a 2020 research, which noted that chlorella is one of the microalgae species with major carotenoids like lutein and polysaccharides that contribute to its anti-inflammatory effects to fight the damage caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS is believed to cause inflammation of the skin.
2. Effective for Detox
When taken as a supplement, chlorella may help detoxify by clinging to harmful toxins to eliminate them from our bodies. But the detoxifying benefits of chlorella are mainly attributed to its high chlorophyll content.
Chlorophyll accounts for up to 5.5% of chlorella’s composition, which is considerably more than other plants and algae. So you may enjoy more of chlorophyll’s powerful detoxifying properties by taking a chlorella supplement.
All these factors contribute to chlorella’s ability to bind with heavy metals and other harmful substances piling up in our bodies.
Is a Chlorophyll Detox Better?
Chlorella’s detoxifying properties mainly rely on its high content of chlorophyll. A supplement made from green pigment or its derivatives may be a superior detoxifier and help improve gut health.
But you can still reap excellent detox benefits if you opt for a chlorella supplement. Studies have shown that chlorella can potentially fight the toxic effects of even the most stubborn substances like cadmium and lead.
3. Potential Anticancer Benefits
The nutritional contents of chlorella, including chlorophyll, may help fight cancer-causing agents. Its powerful antioxidant effect may help fight oxidative stress, which plays a major role in the proliferation of cancer cells.
Chlorella is also rich in major carotenoids inhibiting tumor growth and aiding in cancer cell apoptosis (cancer cell death). All that combined is why chlorella and chlorophyll have been widely studied for their potential benefits in preventing cancer.
One animal study determined chlorella’s promising chemopreventive properties after finding that it can impede the spread of liver cancer cells and eventually induce apoptosis. Another study focused on chlorophyll also found that it has protective effects against modest exposure to carcinogens.
4. Helps Remove Body Odor
Chlorophyll isn’t just popular for its detox benefits. It has been used for a long time to reduce body odor from perspiration and other excretions. If applying topical deodorants isn’t your thing, you may want to consider a chlorophyll supplement for its natural deodorizing properties.
It’s also reported to address health conditions like the metabolic disorder trimethylaminuria (TMAU), which is also known as “fish odor syndrome.” One study found that a daily supplement of 180 mg of copper chlorophyllin effectively reduced the foul smell caused by TMAU. The research also observed chlorophyllin’s effects lasting longer than activated charcoal.
Can You Take Chlorella and Chlorophyll Together?
Chlorella supplements still carry a substantial amount of chlorophyll from the algae’s natural form, so you’re essentially getting the best of both when taking chlorella as a supplement. Depending on your health goals, you may want to choose between the two.
Go for chlorella supplements to enjoy impressive health benefits from a myriad of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, and healthy fatty acids. If you need a detox boost, either will be great.
That said, you can also take them together to maximize their beneficial effects on your health.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Chlorella the Same as Chlorophyll?
No. The main difference between chlorella and chlorophyll is that the former is photosynthetic algae, while the latter is the pigment that gives it its green color.
Although they are not the same, they are closely related and may work together when taken as separate supplements. You can benefit from various vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients from chlorella, but chlorophyll is also a powerful detoxifier.
Does Chlorella Have Chlorophyll?
Yes. Chlorophyll makes plants green, and it does the same for the green algae chlorella. It is special because it reportedly has the highest amount of chlorophyll than other plants and organisms.
Should I Take Chlorophyll or Chlorella?
While you can take them together, you can also enjoy great health benefits from one or the other. Chlorella can provide you with more nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. So to get substantial nutritional benefits, you may opt for chlorella supplements. But if you want to boost your body’s ability to detox heavy metals and harmful substances, chlorophyll can do very well in this regard.
Do Chlorophyll and Chlorella Work the Same?
Not exactly. In their pure forms, chlorella is a green alga mostly found in freshwater, while chlorophyll is the pigment abundantly found in chlorella. Individually, they have specific health benefits you want to consider when choosing a supplement.
For instance, chlorella may help with various health concerns, such as boosting immune health. It’s also rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties, making it a wonderful skincare companion.
Is It OK To Take Chlorophyll Every Day?
Many have used chlorella supplements for decades, and there are no reported severe risks making it safe to consume daily. Also, note that the standard daily dose is 3 to 5 grams only.
That said, you should also be mindful of its minor side effects, such as diarrhea, nausea, and headache. You can gradually introduce chlorella to your system by starting with smaller daily doses to alleviate potential side effects.
What Should You Not Mix With Chlorophyll?
There is a limited report on possible drug interactions with chlorophyll supplements. Considering chlorophyll’s light-absorbing properties, it may not be best to take chlorophyll with medications that can induce photosensitivity, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics, antihistamines, and diuretics.
You can review the labels on your medications and see if any warnings mention chlorophyll. It’s best to consult your doctor, especially if you take maintenance medications.
Chlorophyll or Chlorella: What Is Better To Take?
With superfoods’ rising trend as supplements, choosing the right one to take can get quite overwhelming. Knowing the health benefits that each of them may provide can help narrow down the options.
Chlorella and chlorophyll may not be the same, but they’re exceptional supplements and great additions to your diet. Before choosing between the two, you may also want to determine your primary health goals.
Chlorella is a fantastic choice if you want as many nutrients as possible from a single supplement. If your gut health needs a little boost, you can go for the impressive detox benefits of chlorella or chlorophyll.
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