Chlorella is a freshwater alga that has been used for centuries as a food supplement in the Far East, and has been available to Westerners for nearly three decades. Most chlorella products on the market are produced in Taiwan and Japan. This single-celled algae is rich in vitamins and minerals including Vitamins C and A, iodine, iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorous. This combination of nutrients work to improve vision, support normal thyroid functioning, aide the delivery of oxygen throughout the body and promote the rebuilding of damaged cells. Chlorophyll, found in concentrated levels in Chlorella, is believed to work as a detoxifier in the body.
Individuals suffering from diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease and colitis find that chlorella aids in digestion by increasing the levels of probiotics in the digestive tract. Chlorella is also used to alleviate the side effects of radiation treatments and boost the white blood cell count in individuals with cancer and HIV. The magnesium in Chlorella promotes mental health, reduces the incidents of asthma attacks and relieves premenstrual symptoms.
The chlorella cell reproduces rapidly with the ability to quadruple itself every 24 hours. This rapid growth is attributed to a unique complex of substances found in the cell nuclei, chlorella growth factor (CGF). Researchers have found that the nucleic acids found in CGF promote rapid cell grown in animals and children, and enhance tissue repair functions in adults without any negative side effects. These nucleic acids strengthen the body’s ability to fight cell damage, and they improve the ability of cell walls to rid the body of toxins.
A 2008 chlorella weight loss study, conducted at the Kyung Hee University in Yongin-si, Korea, found that derivatives of the algae are effective in reducing fat cells. Other studies support this finding, which indicates that chlorella tablets or algae powders may be beneficial as part of a weight control program.
While inclusion of chlorella tablets or algae powder in a diet is generally considered safe, some users have experienced stomach-cramping, diarrhea, nausea, flatulence, and discolored stools. A few instances of severe allergic reactions have been reported with chlorella use. Individuals with autoimmune disease should avoid chlorella as it may aggravate their condition. Chlorella contains iodine, and those with iodine sensitivity should not use this supplement.
Chlorella is available in powder, tablet and capsule form. It is best taken in several small doses throughout the day. Capsules and tablets may be taken with meals. Powders may be blended with water, juice or yogurt. Heat will destroy the nutritional value of chlorella powder, so it should not be added to hot beverages or foods. When adding chlorella to a diet, it is best to begin with low doses to allow the body time to adjust.