Chlorella is hailed as a golden grail of healthy and nutrient-dense algae-based food supplements that show promising health benefits.
Tagged as one of Earth’s superfoods, chlorella has proven beneficial to our immunity and skin, hair, and cardiovascular health. That’s why it is valued as a miraculous gift from mother nature.
In this article, we’ll explore the health benefits of chlorella, its possible side effects, and how to take it as a food supplement.
Key Benefits of Chlorella
Chlorella is a single-celled organism that belongs to the freshwater green algae family native to Taiwan and Japan. Of all chlorella species, Chlorella Vulgaris and Chlorella Pyrenoidosa are the ones that are being examined the most by scientists.
The chlorella species’ nutrients are encased with a rigid and fibrous cell wall, making it indigestible for the digestive system.The internal nutrients must be extracted to maximize all the biggest benefits chlorella offers.
Chlorella can be specifically cultured and commercially produced as dietary supplements. It is now available in different forms: powdered, capsules, or tablets.
Research has discovered that chlorella contains a broad range of nutrients and bioactive compounds that may help prevent certain diseases and promote overall health.
You only need to consume small amounts of Chlorella, because the nutritional density is very high. Consuming smaller amounts also reduces the risk of side effects which we will cover later in this article.
Chlorella is an abundant protein source containing all nine essential amino acids. This plant-based protein makes an excellent dietary source of complete protein for vegans/vegetarians.
Besides protein, chlorella is rich in iron and vitamin C, essential for maintaining the health of red blood cells (RBC).
Chlorella also has vitamin K, fiber, omega-3, B vitamins, and minerals such as copper, zinc, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and folic acid.
In this quick introduction, you have learned about the nutritional value of Chlorella, the availability of Chlorella in different forms, and some of the specific reasons why Chlorella can be an effective supplement.
In the next section, we will review possible health benefits of Chlorella.
Boost the immune system
One of the possible health benefits of chlorella is that it could help boost your immune system.
The immune system shields your body from germs, harmful substances, and cell changes that can potentially harm your health.
In an eight-week research, chlorella supplementation was found to effectively stimulate immune and inflammatory responses among healthy individuals.
Another study claims that taking chlorella supplementation can significantly increase the body’s ability to produce more antibodies than taking the placebo. Antibodies or immunoglobulins are responsible for combating infection-causing foreign invaders that enter your body.
Reduce chronic disease risks
Chlorella is also like a pot of gold when it comes to antioxidants. It is rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C, astaxanthin, chlorophyll, lycopene, lutein, pheophytin, and other antioxidants.
Antioxidants reduce your chances of getting chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), coronary heart disease (CHD), cancer, and arthritis.
Lower cholesterol levels
Your body requires cholesterol for hormone production and to build healthy cells. However, elevated levels of triglycerides and total cholesterol, are thought to increase your risk of cardiovascular diseases due to fat deposits that build up in your blood vessels. Over time, bad cholesterol can block your arteries and force your heart to overwork just to let your blood flow throughout the body.
Several studies have linked chlorella supplementation to lowering cholesterol levels.
In a small open-label trial, chlorella supplementation effectively reduced serum cholesterol levels among patients with hyperlipidemia and mild hypercholesterolemia.
Another study suggested that chlorella supplementation might have the potential to inhibit the intestinal absorption of endogenous and dietary lipids for patients with mild hypercholesterolemia. The study concluded significant desirable changes were observed in serum lipid such as total cholesterol, triglycerides, very-low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein/triglyceride levels.
Improve skin health
There are also claims that chlorella has also shown potential health benefits for skin health.
Chlorella supplements contain bioactive compounds, which have become a hot topic in the skincare industry. In particular, Chlorella Vulgaris contains amino acids that are akin to collagen fibers. They stimulate collagen synthesis in the skin and help fight signs of aging such as wrinkles. Chlorella also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which can help fight skin inflammation.
The use of chlorella has also shown positive effects on skin lesions. The research revealed that the oral and topical use of chlorella could minimize skin inflammation and shortens the wound healing process.
Weaken heavy metal toxins
Heavy metals like arsenic, mercury, and other poisonous compounds are mostly found in food, water, and industrial sources. Long term exposure to these heavy metals can result in accumulation in your body and increase your risk for heavy metal poisoning.
Chlorella has a unique cellular structure that binds to these heavy metals and weakens its potency to harm the body. This was shown in a cell study wherein chlorella can absorb 40% of the heavy metals in a test solution in just seven days.
Improve breast milk quality
Toxins from breastmilk can be passed on to infants.
According to this study, chlorella supplementation lowers dioxin levels, and it improves the quality of breastmilk. With 6 grams of the chlorella supplement, it can increase antibody concentration in breastmilk. Furthermore, it was also found that chlorella can prevent hormonal imbalance and strengthen the immune system.
Side Effects of Chlorella Supplements
Taking chlorella supplements is tolerable for most people.
However, some people have experienced nausea, vomiting, and gastrointestinal disturbance, such as bloating or indigestion, cramping, and green stools on their first-time consuming this food supplement.
Photosensitivity reactions were also reported after ingesting chlorella.
Chlorella may also decrease anticoagulants’ effectiveness, such as warfarin since this supplement contains high amounts of vitamin K.
Greenish breast milk discoloration was experienced among lactating mothers after taking chlorella. That doesn’t mean it will necessarily cause adverse effects to the infants’ health. It is usually safe. This effect is similar to eating plenty of green leafy vegetables such as spinach, which can also turn the breast milk green.
You should always consult with your doctor before taking any supplements during pregnancy or if you have a pre-existing health condition.
Other chlorella supplements are enriched with iodine. To those who have iodine sensitivity or hyperthyroidism, this supplement should be avoided.
For the most part, Chlorella’s side effects may indicate that your body is trying to adjust to the introduction of chlorella. Therefore, it might be advisable to start consuming it in smaller amounts, then work your way up to ease digestive symptoms over time.
Spirulina or chlorella?
Chlorella is a green alga, while spirulina is a blue-green alga. If you wonder which of the two are better, both chlorella and spirulina are considered by experts to be to provide benefits for your health.
Spirulina and chlorella are superfoods that are packed with essential nutrients, and they are associated with boosting your nutrient levels, improving overall health, and preventing diseases.
However, this does not mean that one is better than the other. Instead of asking which food supplement is better, you’ll have to find out which of the two is best for you.
How Much Should I Take?
There are no specific recommended dosages for taking chlorella. Researchers have used different dosages to study the benefits of chlorella. The effectiveness of chlorella in these studies was observed in different doses, starting from 300mg, 1.2g, 5g, and 10g.
Most chlorella supplements you can find in the market indicate that you can take a dose of 2–3 grams per day.
If you are pregnant, adding a chlorella supplement to your diet will give more healthful benefits for you and your baby. Since chlorella is highly nutritious, it can help improve breast milk’s carotenoid status and prevent pregnancy-associated proteinuria, edema, and anemia. However, you should always consult your doctor before taking any supplements during pregnancy or if you have any pre-existing conditions.
Where to Buy Chlorella Supplements?
You can purchase chlorella in reputable online stores, natural food stores, and dietary supplements shops. You can select a natural or organic chlorella supplement in tablets, powder, capsules, or extract form. Choose whichever form you prefer.
When buying chlorella, make sure to find a quality supplement. Look for the ones that have been tested by third-party testing organizations. You pay attention to the quality assurance seal.
How to Consume Chlorella?
Just know for a fact that chlorella is highly nutritious. What kind of nutrition density are we talking about? That will depend on the form you choose to consume (e.g. powder, capsule, or tablet). Also, different manufacturers will contain different concentrations. So you should review the label to see what are the specific ingredients before purchasing.
Chlorella can be taken one hour before or after taking any medications. Others would prefer to take the supplement in the morning and before bedtime.
Make sure to give space between taking chlorella and drinking coffee. Why? Coffee interferes with the body’s nutrient absorption, washing away the healthy and nutritious goodies of your chlorella.
Most consumers would prefer to buy chlorella in powder form because you can mix it with other foods and drinks. The best about powdered chlorella is that it is easily digestible and absorbed in the body. The downside about the powdered chlorella is that you might need to get used to its strong flavor when mixed with only water. Sounds bland and boring, right?
So to make your chlorella experience more interesting, you can add a small amount of powder in a smoothie or a green vegetable juice. Start in small doses first and observe how your body responds.
You can also sprinkle chlorella powder on salad dressings, cereals, yogurts, baked goods, or beverages to make it more nutritious.
Other people would prefer to buy chlorella in tablet form for simplicity and convenience sake, especially when you can’t always find extra time to prepare your food. Just one gulp away, and you’re good to go. Also, you won’t have to savor the strong taste or odor of the supplement.
Remember not to get too excited about immediately taking a high-dose or multiple chlorella tablets yet. You have to give time for your digestive system to get used to the newly introduced substance.
Tablet or powdered chlorella?
Should you take a chlorella tablet or the powdered one? Both forms are actually excellent options. Just choose depending on your needs and lifestyle.
Chlorella is a highly nutritious food supplement that makes a great addition to a healthy diet. This green algae superfood can help improve your overall health and reduce the risk of certain lifestyle diseases.
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