Article at a glance:
- Spirulina and chlorella are two different species of algae that are widely used as supplements for their incredible health benefits.
- They’re available as individual supplements, but combining them in your diet could provide tons of positive health effects on the heart, gut, skin, and many more.
- Spirulina and chlorella have similar nutritional contents for the most part, but certain vitamins and minerals are richer in one or the other.
Centuries worth of food science and research have shed light on a few foods with special powers. We now call these superfoods.
Of all the superfoods, spirulina and chlorella are the two that the western world has little knowledge of, yet people from the far east have been praising their health benefits for decades. Research on both algae organisms, which were often conducted separately, showed they possess promising health benefits.
There are minor differences in their characteristics as organisms. They’re both nutrient-dense foods rich in vitamins and minerals that aren’t typically found together in other food sources.
It then begs the question, should we add these algae superfoods to our diet?
Difference in Chlorella and Spirulina Nutrients
Spirulina and chlorella have earned the superfood title because they’re packed with essential vitamins and nutrients. Both are usually lumped together as food sources because they’re both algae. Further, studies suggest they share similar health benefits, as well.
Most vitamins and minerals found in one of them are present in the other, but some of their nutrition components don’t come in the same amount. Here’s a breakdown of their nutritional profiles.
Spirulina and Chlorella Nutritional Facts
There is little difference in the macronutrients of spirulina and chlorella. They have almost the same carbohydrates, protein, and total fat content. But chlorella has higher calories with 115 kcal compared to spirulina’s 81.2 kcal per one ounce (28 grams) serving.
Their nutritional values in significant vitamins are roughly the same, including:
- Vitamin C
Chlorella has substantially more vitamin A at 14364 IU per the same serving size compared to 160 IU in spirulina. Spirulina’s beta carotene content per ounce is reportedly at 98.5 mcg, while one study suggests that a single 6-gram dose of chlorella can contain as much as 1.88 mg.
More substantial differences exist in the minerals found per ounce of spirulina and chlorella. The latter has high amounts of:
- Potassium – 382 mg
- Sodium – 293 mg
Chlorella has higher levels of other minerals, such as:
- Calcium – 61.9 mg
- Iron – 36.4 mg
- Magnesium – 88.2 mg
- Phosphorus – 251 mg
- Zinc – 19.9 mg
The available data on spirulina and chlorella’s respective nutritional values suggest that there are minor differences in their macronutrient content. However, the differences are more notable in some vitamins and minerals.
Chlorella has much higher vitamin A, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc levels, suggesting a slight nutritional advantage. But spirulina’s high potassium and sodium levels shouldn’t be discounted either.
The differences between these superfoods don’t necessarily mean one is greater than the other. Their nutritional values suggest that both algae are like essential puzzle pieces that fit together to promote a healthy body. This further indicates that you’re likely to enjoy more nutrients and their benefits when you include chlorella and spirulina dietary supplements in your daily routine.
Is It Okay to Take Chlorella and Spirulina Together?
One of the great things about these two superfoods is that you don’t have to choose just one. They complement each other very well; you can combine these two amazing superfoods in your daily regimen. And the nutrition we can get from spirulina and chlorella is the main reason both algae have skyrocketed in popularity as dietary supplements.
There are no reported health risks in taking both chlorella and spirulina supplements. So, yes, you can safely include both supplements in your daily routine. That could further elevate the many health benefits you can get from these superfoods since they complement the essential nutrients available in one another.
Considering the amazing health benefits they offer, it may be best to have them together. In one animal clinical study, the combined supplementation of spirulina chlorella showed benefits in the healing process of diabetic ulcers.
That said, chlorella and spirulina tablets are widely available separately or together, typically in a 50%/50% ratio in capsule, tablet, and powder form. So if you’re new to this and want to introduce one dietary supplement at a time to your body, that can also be a good option. Having one nutrient-dense supplement included in your diet is better than not having any at all.
What Are Spirulina and Chlorella Good For?
Thanks to the tons of research on both these algae, we now know they can do quite a lot of good for the body.
As you’ve seen in their nutritional information above, both algae are rich in vitamins and minerals essential to maintain many body functions and keep us healthy. It’s not surprising that they also share similar health benefits.
Experts note that more research must be needed before we can say both are conclusively therapeutic. Studies suggest the body can reap the great health benefits of spirulina and chlorella that may support our cardiovascular and digestive functions.
Both algae have also shown promising activities that may enhance the health of our eyes, brain, and immune system.
Top 9 Spirulina and Chlorella Health Benefits When Taken Together
How amazing are the benefits of taking chlorella and spirulina together? These superfoods are super for many reasons, and you’ll see why as you read on.
1. Overall Nutrition Supplement
Rich in Protein and Amino Acids
It’s impressive how much of the macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals we need are in chlorella and spirulina, solidifying their rightful titles as superfoods. But when it comes to nutrients from these algae, you may want to pay close attention to their protein content for several reasons.
Chlorella is a complete protein, which means it contains all nine essential amino acids. However, many claim that spirulina is a source of “complete protein.” But a nutritional composition analysis of spirulina indicates it only has eight essential amino acids – “with moderately high amounts” of leucine, tryptophan, methionine, lysine, phenylalanine, isoleucine, valine, and thionine.
So, more accurately, spirulina has an almost complete protein, and it’s also noted that protein makes up nearly 65% of its dry weight. Meanwhile, chlorella’s protein content is within the same range, making both algae a rich source of vegan protein.
Essential Fatty Acids Are Present
Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) are the dietary fatty acids you should want in your food because they’re associated with lowering the risks of cardiovascular diseases.
And this is yet another area where chlorella and spirulina shine because they both contain fatty acids known to provide health benefits to the body. Research shows chlorella contains oleic, linoleic, and alpha-linolenic acids, which may help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.
Omega 3 fatty acids are also present in chlorella and spirulina. Like other healthy fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids are known for their role in supporting cardiovascular health. They’re powerful antioxidants, as well. In general, antioxidants like vitamins C and E (also in chlorella and spirulina) help protect cells from free radicals before they can cause damage.
One study focused on omega-3 fatty acids suggested it promoted notable improvements in antioxidant activities in type 2 diabetes patients and likely helped reduce risks of complications.
2. Lower Risks of Heart Disease
Reduce Blood Pressure
Persistently high blood pressure levels have been referred to by experts as a “silent killer” because it can overwork the heart and blood vessels, damaging the tissues of the arteries. So it can cause severe health conditions over time.
When it comes to heart health, polyunsaturated fats or often called healthy fats because they can support cardiovascular functions when consumed in moderate amounts. And research shows chlorella and spirulina have almost the same profile of polyunsaturated fats.
“High amounts” of the particular polyunsaturated fat called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) were found in chlorella. It’s one of the omega-3 fatty acids which can potentially lower blood pressure.
ALA was not found in spirulina, but this alga had high amounts of omega-6 fatty acid gamma-linoleic acid (GLA), which wasn’t present in chlorella. Early studies suggest daily GLA supplementation may have antihypertensive effects.
Healthier Cholesterol Levels
Cholesterol plays a role in the synthesis of healthy cells in the body, but high cholesterol levels can prevent the normal flow of blood through the arteries, which makes it another serious risk factor for heart disease. Studies have backed claims that both spirulina and chlorella may have potential health benefits in cholesterol management.
One study observed patients with mild hypercholesterolemia caused by elevated amounts of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Participants took 5 grams of chlorella daily for four weeks, and researchers observed significant improvements in their serum lipid profiles.
Another study showed that a daily dose of 1 gram of spirulina supplement in three months lowered total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol in dyslipidaemic patients.
3. Support Blood Glucose Management
Our body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, which it uses as a main energy source. Insulin is an essential hormone produced in the pancreas that helps cells absorb glucose. It then plays a key role in regulating blood glucose levels in the body.
However, several factors can cause muscle, liver, and fat cells to not respond properly to insulin. These organs don’t function as they should when it comes to absorbing and storing glucose.
Such problems lead to a condition known as impaired insulin sensitivity or insulin resistance. And it’s often associated with other health conditions, such as type-2 diabetes, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases.
It’s then worth noting that both chlorella and spirulina showed the potential to increase insulin sensitivity. Chlorella and spirulina’s antihyperglycemic properties may be due to their phenolic compounds. Their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities are also attributed to the folate and carotenoids in chlorella and the phycobilins and phycocyanin pigments in spirulina.
And in animal study models with subjects that have severely compromised pancreatic functions, the algae showed promising signs of protecting beta cells, which help make insulin. This further supports chlorella and spirulina’s benefits to increase insulin sensitivity.
4. Boost the Immune System
The impressive amounts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in chlorella and spirulina indicate their potential benefits to the immune system. One of the non-essential amino acids in chlorella is arginine. It does have a role in building protein, but recent studies suggest it’s also vital in immune system functions.
A study where healthy Koreans were instructed to consume chlorella supplementation for eight weeks also showed that it stimulated the activity of Natural Killer cell activity. It’s a type of white blood cell known to kill tumor and virus-infected cells, which explains its name.
The same study also noted that chlorella appeared to have promoted the production of interleukin-12 (stimulates T-cells growth), interferon-γ (plays a role in adaptive immunity), and interleukin-1β (helps in fighting infections).
5. Promote Healthy Detoxification
There’s a good chance that, out of all the amazing spirulina and chlorella benefits, their detoxifying properties are what got you curious about these superfoods. The good news is both these algae show great potential in binding with heavy metals, thus, helping the body detoxify.
Heavy metal poisoning is rare in most developed countries. However, it can still happen when the body accumulates trace amounts of toxic metals like lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, and thallium over time.
We get exposed to small amounts of heavy metals through various things, such as water running through old pipes, too much seafood consumption, cigarette smoke, and pesticides most prevalent in cereals, rice, wheat, edible roots, and mushrooms. Not many of us are aware of this or will even think that we need to detox from heavy metals.
Preliminary studies showed that spirulina may help alleviate the toxic effects of arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury in lab-induced models. Other clinical studies showed it might also protect humans from arsenic toxicity. Chlorella may help reduce methylmercury toxicity. In another animal study, it exhibited protective abilities against lead exposure.
6. Antioxidants and Anti-Inflammatory Activities
Chlorella and spirulina are both rich in antioxidants that contribute to their anti-inflammatory properties. Similarly, their powerful antioxidant effect has also been associated with their potential to inhibit oxidative stress.
Spirulina, in particular, stimulates antioxidant enzymes in cells that scavenge free radicals, which can cause damage to lipids, proteins, and DNA. Other clinical trials also showed spirulina’s preventative activities against skeletal muscle damage from oxidative stress caused by exercise.
Spirulina also promotes the production of antibodies to help regulate cytokine, which can regulate immune responses and stimulate anti-inflammatory responses.
More research is needed to understand the molecular mechanisms that promote these activities in spirulina, but the phycocyanin pigment and beta-carotene play important roles in these functions.
7. Support Weight Management
Consuming extra protein for breakfast appears to help control hunger. A small 2018 study observed that healthy adults who consume extra protein (28 grams) in the morning tend to have less appetite later in the day. The body needs more time to digest protein than it does carbohydrates, which could explain the study results.
Since protein makes up more than half of chlorella and spirulina dry weight, algae supplements may be great options for a quick extra protein intake in the morning when most breakfast options are not particularly packed with protein.
While chlorella and spirulina have the components to help manage weight, solely relying on these supplements may not directly induce weight loss. In one clinical study, participants consumed 2 grams of spirulina daily paired with a “restricted caloric diet” for 12 weeks. The results were promising, including a significant reduction in body weight, waist circumference, body fat, and BMI.
Exercise and other forms of physical activity are also important in weight management. Chlorella showed a positive ergogenic effect promising enough to encourage more research on its potential to improve exercise performance.
8. Maintain Skin Health
Can spirulina and chlorella give you clear skin? More clinical studies are needed to arrive at a conclusion on this matter. It’s worth noting that chlorella produces a substance called chlorellin that has antimicrobial properties. This can combat bacteria growth, which is one of the four main causes of acne, along with excess oil production, clogged hair follicles, and skin inflammation.
Spirulina is also known for having antimicrobial effects. One study suggested that spirulina-infused creams could be a topical alternative for acne breakouts. It resulted in fewer side effects and didn’t exhibit antibiotic resistance.
9. Anti-Cancer Properties
The anti-cancer properties of spirulina and chlorella may be their biggest health benefits. The various bioactive compounds found in both algae appear to contribute to these characteristics.
Previous studies found that chlorophyll, rich in chlorella and spirulina, has antitumor properties in animals exposed to lower levels of carcinogens. A more recent study backed this and found that chlorophylls may alter the redox status of pancreatic cells.
Another research found that chlorella supplementation may improve the quality of life of patients with breast cancer. Some study participants also observed less fatigue and improvement of dry skin following daily intake of chlorella’s hot water extract.
For this study, hot water extract of chlorella was used as this is high in polysaccharides, galactose, rhamnose, ribose, xylose, and mannose, which help the body fight off viral and bacterial infection.
How Much Spirulina and Chlorella Should I Take?
The common recommendation for supplements of blue-green algae sources, like spirulina and chlorella, is 3 to 5 grams daily. But the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) noted that up to 10 grams daily could be safe to consume for a span of six months.
Spirulina and chlorella tablets often come in 250 milligrams, 500mg, and 1,000mg per piece. So it’s important to read the label of the supplement you purchased to determine how many daily tablets you can take.
Powder supplements are packaged in different ways. Some of them come in resealable pouches and should indicate — usually per teaspoon — how much you can consume daily. Other brands would put them in separate packets that could contain up to 6 grams each. Again, reading the labels and instructions is important when you’re new to taking spirulina and chlorella powder supplements.
As with other supplements, the right dose of spirulina and chlorella is not a one-size-fits-all. That’s especially true if you have pre-existing health conditions. Other factors, like age, can influence how much spirulina and chlorella you can take. Even how they were harvested and processed can affect the right daily dosage.
Apart from following the recommendations and instructions of the supplement labels, it’s best to consult with your healthcare provider if this will be your first time incorporating spirulina and chlorella into your diet.
How to Take Chlorella Spirulina Supplement?
Many reputable brands already offer 50-50 spirulina chlorella tablets and capsules. As the name suggests, they contain all the nutrients you can get from these two superfoods. This would be the easiest way to consume them as a dietary supplement.
You can buy chlorella and spirulina separately and in other forms of supplements. Many health stores and brands offer powder supplements of both blue-green algae. You can consume it by simply stirring it into a glass of water.
If you find the powder supplements too bitter for your taste, there are many ways to make the bitterness much less prominent. You can mix them into your food or beverage without affecting their potency. They’re usually added to smoothies, soups, fruit juices, and salads.
Whichever way you consume these supplements, don’t forget to follow dosage recommendations and instructions on their labels.
Spirulina and Chlorella Dangers: Risks, Side Effects and How To Avoid Them
Chlorella and spirulina are hailed as superfoods not only because they’re nutrient-dense organic sources but also for their potential future benefits. Tons of research support and attests to the myriad of health benefits they offer. However, like other supplements and drugs, they’re not completely free of risks and side effects in certain scenarios.
Potential Side Effects
While both supplements are generally safe to take, especially for most adults, their consumption has had minor side effects.
Chlorella may cause bloating, diarrhea, upset stomach, flatulence, headache, facial flushing, and sweating. Spirulina, on the other hand, could also lead to some similar side effects, as well as nausea, abdominal cramping, and green stools. A common reason for this is that they may be pulling out toxins from your body.
If you’ve not tried algae supplements before, gradually adding chlorella and spirulina to your diet is best. You can begin by taking a spirulina chlorella tablet once per day and work your way up each day to reach the standard dose of 3 grams daily.
If you’re taking any medication, it’s highly advised to consult your doctor first to avoid potential drug interactions.
Possible Toxin Contamination
Although spirulina and chlorella supplements are generally safe, they’re not completely risk-free from being contaminated with toxins because they’re grown or cultivated in bodies of water.
One way to avoid the dangers of contaminated chlorella and spirulina is to buy supplements from a trusted and established brand. The best chlorella and spirulina supplements come from Taiwan, Japan, and Hawaii.
Chlorella May Cause Photosensitivity When Not Processed Right
Chlorella supplements were linked to increased risks of photosensitivity in their early days, in the 1980s, to be exact. That was mainly because the widespread process of algae processing lacked one crucial step — cracking its cell walls. This step is necessary so the body can digest chlorella and absorb its nutrients better.
The processing of chlorella has greatly improved over the decades, thus, significantly improving its safety as well. To be sure you’re taking supplements of chlorella with a broken cell wall, look for “cracked cell” or “open cell” products on the label.
Counteract With Medications
What can you not mix with spirulina? Scientific reports on the types of drugs that may interact with spirulina supplements are scarce. Considering its potency in boosting immune functions, there’s a possibility that it could counteract medications for autoimmune conditions.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Can Spirulina and Chlorella Do for the Body?
Spirulina and chlorella have a long list of health benefits so that they may significantly improve various functions of the body. Studies suggest they promote heart health by reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels. They’re also known for their rich contents of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that contribute to their anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, and anticancer potentials.
Which Is Better for Detox, Spirulina or Chlorella?
Chlorella and spirulina are nutrient-dense superfoods. You’ll reap the best health benefits when you take them together and the positive effects of either of these supplements.
Both showed abilities to bind with heavy metals, which is crucial for healthy detoxification. But the big winner here is chlorella because it has higher chlorophyll content than spirulina.
Can I Take Spirulina and Chlorella Every Day?
Yes. There are no reported severe adverse effects in taking spirulina and chlorella daily. You may be able to alleviate their minor side effects by introducing them to your diet gradually. For the best experience, don’t forget to read the supplements’ labels for instructions on daily dosage and how to take them.
What Time of Day Should I Take Spirulina and Chlorella?
The overall safety of taking spirulina and chlorella for most adults indicates that they can be taken any time of the day. Depending on the dosage you purchased, you may have to consume several capsules or tablets to reach the recommended daily dose. In this case, you can spread it out at different times of the day.
For an energy boost, take spirulina in the morning. If you’re looking to relax before sleeping, take chlorella at night. Now if you’re taking a chlorella and spirulina supplement, feel free to take it throughout the day.
Which Is Better for Weight Loss, Spirulina or Chlorella?
Considering the high amounts of protein, vitamins, minerals, healthy fatty acids, and other nutrients present in chlorella and spirulina, they both have the potential to aid in weight management. Although, it’s worth noting that more human clinical studies were done on spirulina that showed it may help reduce body weight, BMI, waist size, and body fat.
Spirulina and Chlorella: The Ultimate Green Superfoods
It’s easy to get bombarded with the plethora of superfood supplements currently available in the market. This is why narrowing down the superfoods that will benefit you the most is a must. Thanks to the long list of health benefits, opting for spirulina and chlorella isn’t a hard decision. It’s made even easier by the fact that you can actually take them together.
It’s truly a wonder how easy it is to supplement your diet with superfoods filled with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and amino acids. They’re so packed with all these amazing benefits that NASA is bringing them to space missions now!
So whether you’re looking for ways to improve weight management, aiming to hit your macronutrient goals, or simply wanting an overall healthy diet, it’s time to try the ultimate superfood combo that is spirulina and chlorella!
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