Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth nutrition, fitness and adventure courses, and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+..
Spirulina and chlorella are two different types of algae that are exceptionally rich in plant nutrients. A 3-gram serving of either one provides the equivalent of at least one 3.5-oz. serving of common vegetables or fruits, and about 2 grams of protein-a higher concentration than other plant foods, meat, or fish. And both contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, including iron, as well as healthy fats.
Nature has also endowed each algae with its own unique qualities. As a result, both merit inclusion in a healthy diet.
Chlorophyll-a potent, natural detoxifying substance-is more concentrated in chlorella than in any other plant. Chlorella also contains fiber, which supports healthy digestion and works with chlorophyll to remove toxins from the body. Another component, chlorella growth factor (CGF), contains building blocks that help the human body repair and regenerate itself.
Additionally, according to research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food:
- Japanese scientists tested the effects of chlorella (4 grams, twice daily) on 17 healthy people and 17 others who were at risk for heart disease and diabetes. In the study, both groups experienced lower body fat, cholesterol, and blood glucose levels. In the high-risk group, chlorella also turned off disease-promoting genes.
- In a study of 35 healthy pregnant women, those who took chlorella (2 grams, three times daily after meals) for about 6 months before giving birth had higher levels of antibodies-which reduce the risk of infection in infants-in their breast milk. Plus, their breast milk contained lower levels of dioxins, common environmental pollutants.
Studies have also found that chlorella, in combination with a concentrated liquid form of CGF known as Wakasa Gold (from Sun Chlorella), lowered blood pressure and provided relief for people suffering from fibromyalgia and ulcerative colitis.
Centuries ago in South America and Africa, spirulina was harvested and made into cakes as a staple food, but in the past 20 years it has gained prominence as a supplement. Nutritionally, 3 grams of spirulina contains more carotenes, a key type of antioxidant, than five servings (3.5 oz. per serving) of popular fruits and vegetables.
Studies show that spirulina reduces inflammation, helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure, strengthens immunity, and protects the brain against inflammation triggered by toxins. Some highlights:
- A review of spirulina’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions and its impact on heart health, published in Cardiovascular Therapeutics, analyzed 11 previous studies that included a total of more than 350 men and women. They found that spirulina lowered “bad” LDL cholesterol, raised “good” HDL cholesterol, decreased elevated levels of triglycerides (another blood fat), and lowered blood pressure. Dosages ranged from 1-8 grams, taken over periods of 8-24 weeks.
- At the University of California, Davis, researchers tested spirulina on a group of 30 people age 50 or older who suffered from anemia and impaired immune function. The results, published in Cellular & Molecular Immunology, found that 3 grams of spirulina taken daily for 12 weeks counteracted anemia and improved immune function.
When choosing supplements, look for a product that has been cultivated in clean, toxin-free water. Among products available in the United States, some specific brands-including Hawaiian Spirulina Pacifica, Earthrise Spirulina, and Sun Chlorella-have been tested in studies. Also note that chlorella has a tough cell wall that must be broken (stated on some supplement labels) in order for its nutrients to be utilized. Sun Chlorella uses a proprietary process to pulverize cell walls-without the use of heat or chemicals-to enhance bioavailability.
Here are common dosages:
Spirulina powder or tablets: 3 grams daily or more, as used in studies Spirulina powder can be mixed in water or added to smoothies, salads, pesto, salsa, guacamole, or other dips.
Chlorella granules or tablets: 3 grams daily for health maintenance, 6 grams per day to improve overall health, and 9 grams daily to remedy appropriate non-optimum health situations. To enable your body to adjust to detoxifying nutrients, begin by taking approximately 750 mg per day and then gradually increase the dosage. Chlorella supplements are also available for pets.
Smaller quantities of spirulina and/or chlorella are also found in various green formulas and multivitamins available in health food stores. Check labels for information about dosages and amounts for these products.
earthrise green blends cleansing, shown here in powder form, is designed to cleanse the body naturally with a synergistic mix of spirulina, chlorella, barley grass, wheat grass, alfalfa, and broccoli.
Nutrex Pure hawaiin spirulina pacifica, shown here in a new 1-g tablet, has high levels of protein, beta carotene, and other essential vitamins and minerals such as iron.
Carry convenient sun chlorella Packs anywhere and mix in your favorite food or drink. Chlorophyll, beta carotene, vitamins C and E, and other nutrients assist in the body’s detoxification process.