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Chlorella: All You Need to Know About the Mighty Algae

by Carly Neubert, BA, NC on January 16, 2019

What is Chlorella? 

We have all seen algae growing in a pool, fish tank, or in the local pond. Algae is usually slimy, green, and undesirable. Why would you want to use it as a supplement? Chlorella is grown as a superfood in Japan and Taiwan. In East Asia, chlorella algae are added to rice, tea, and pancakes. Chlorella has been used for thousands of years by Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners. There are no dangers and low risks involved when you're taking a chlorella supplement.

Chlorella is 50% protein by weight. It is an excellent source of amino acids. It is usually offered as a whole food supplement in tablet and powder forms. It can also be taken in capsule form. The dosage of chlorella may vary depending on the desired effect. Chlorella is naturally rich in chlorophyll which is the green pigment that you see in most plants. Even a small amount of chlorella powder will turn your entire smoothie a bright green hue.

Chlorella Supplements

While most chlorella products are a whole food supplement, there are some chlorella supplements that are just chlorella extracts. They do not contain all of the chlorella algea, but rather an extracted nutrient. One of the most popular chlorella supplements is the “Chlorella growth factor” extract. The growth factor is essentially a water-soluble extract containing amino acids, peptides, proteins, vitamins, sugars, and nucleic acids. Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF) is very potent and concentrated. The high concentration of nutrients allows you to take a much lower dose to obtain the same results.

BioPure offers several options for chlorella supplements. Pure Chlorella Pyrenoidosa is offered in tablet form. The tablets may be swallowed or chewed. BioPure Chlorella Vulgaris is fermented Chlorella. It is easier to digest and absorb. CGF (Chlorella growth factor) is extracted from chlorella pyrenoidosa and is highly concentrated.

Chlorella Pyrenoidosa versus Chlorella Vulgaris?

As previously discussed, chlorella supplements can come in a few different forms. The two most prominent in the market are the cracked cell wall Chlorella Vulgaris, otherwise known as fermented Chlorella, and Pyrenoidosa Chlorella. In its natural state, Chlorella has a hard cell wall made of mannose, glucose, and cellulose. Without altering the cell wall, it is difficult to break the cell wall during digestion. The fermentation process softens the cell membranes, allowing for easier digestion. The fermentation preserves the chlorophyll and other nutrients found in Chlorella. Fermentation also assures there are no heavy metals or other contaminants. Since this version of Chlorella is produced indoors, it is able to be produced year round regardless of the season.

Pyrenoidosa is a species name which refers to the abundant pyrenoid within the Chlorella chloroplast. Chlorella Pyrenoidosa has a thicker cell wall than other forms of Chlorella. Because of this, it is a stronger detoxifying and binding supplement. Pyrenoidosa contains sporepollenin that is lost during the fermentation process of Chlorella Vulgaris. Although different from each other, both forms of Chlorella remain abundant in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.

How do I use Chlorella?

The most common way to take Chlorella is orally. BioPure Chlorella Pyrenoidosa is a chewable tablet. Each chewable tablet is 250 mg and the recommended dosing is chewing or swallowing 3 tablets, 2 to 3 times daily with meals. Many users opt to chew the tablets for maximum absorption. Tablets can be ground into smoothies. When taking it in powder form, I recommend mixing it in a smoothie to cover up the strong taste that may accompany Chlorella.

Chlorella has a very strong and distinct taste, so it is wise to add coconut water, lime juice, or fruit to improve the flavor. If you are using Chlorella Pyrenoidosa as a binder, I recommend taking the tablets 30 minutes before eating and 2 hours away from any medications.

There are a variety of different brands of Chlorella and each is unique. Some Chlorella products may include Spirulina, Chlorella growth factor, and some may be mixed into green superfood mixtures. There are a variety of factors that go into choosing the right Chlorella for you. Some have broken cell walls and others have tough cell walls (Pyrenoidosa). There are many different places of origin: Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan, and the US. The quality of Chlorella may vary depending on where it was grown and what it is mixed with.

BioPure employs stringent quality standards for their products. Their products are free from pesticides, preservatives, colors, and flavors. They do not use binding or filling agents. They utilize cGMP facilities to manufacture and produce all of their supplements, including Chlorella Vulgaris, Chlorella Pyrenoidosa, and Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF).

What Can Chlorella Do For My Health?

Chlorella supplements work within your cells and tissues. Because Chlorella has been a well-known supplement in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it has been used and studied for many conditions.

Here's a list of benefits from Chlorella:

What are the Side Effects and Downfall to Taking Chlorella?

The only downfall with Chlorella is that its tough algae exterior cellular walls are hard for humans to digest. It took scientists time to design a way for it to be more easily digested.

This alteration to Chlorella is also what gives it its detoxifying powers.

Chlorella, like all detoxifying supplements, may have unpleasant side effects. These symptoms may include bloating or intestinal irregularities. The most common side effects of Chlorella include nausea, diarrhea, gas, green discoloration of stools, and stomach cramping. These are common symptoms of detoxification. The symptoms are attributed to a “die off” or “herxheimer” reaction.

Before taking Chlorella, it is important to consult your doctor if you have a low sulfur diet. Keep in mind that Chlorella may make your skin sensitive to sunlight. Effects are unknown for pregnant or breastfeeding women, so it is advised to avoid use during these times. Allergy tests should be taken if you have a pre-existing allergy to molds as Chlorella may cause similar reactions. If you are immunodeficient, it is important to check with your doctor to see if Chlorella is a safe option for you.

Can Chlorella Help Me Lose Weight?

Yes, Chlorella may help you lose weight, but it is not a magic pill. According to a research team in Japan, Chlorella can promote weight loss by controlling your bodies’ gene expression to cause a decrease in body fat levels, fasting glucose levels, and total circulating cholesterol. Managing your blood sugar and insulin is the first step to losing weight and body fat.

What is the Difference Between Chlorella and Spirulina?

There are two types of nutritious algae that are used as supplements. Chlorella and spirulina are both freshwater algae which have health-promoting nutrients. Spirulina and Chlorella are both single-celled algae found in freshwater. They are both bright blue-green because of their high chlorophyll content.

While both Spirulina and Chlorella are waterborne organisms, they are very different at the cellular level. Both organisms have a concentrated amount of nutrients that can cleanse and detoxify your body. They are both high in protein. Out of the two supplements, Spirulina is more well known. It has been used for decades to battle malnourishment and Vitamin A deficiencies in children from undeveloped countries. Although it has been the preferred algae supplement for decades, Chlorella is actually more nutritious and useful than Spirulina. Chlorella has greater levels of protein and a larger combination of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.

Chlorella is a potent superfood and supplement. I always recommend a detoxifying or binding agent as part of any wellness regime. If you want to add Chlorella to your health program, please schedule an appointment with me and I can walk you through it.

In health,

Carly Neubert BA, NC


For additional recipes, biohacking tips and lifestyle hacks -- check out my other blog on my coaching site www.cleancoachcarly.com! I post weekly about nutrition and lifestyle topics, all backed by science. Happy Reading!