Chlorella is a type of freshwater algae that is known for its dense nutrient content. Although it is widely used in Japan for its potential for treating various health conditions, current research does not support the use of chlorella for treating or preventing any diseases in humans. Various studies, however, have found links between improved health and chlorella supplementation, particularly in relation to detoxification and improved antioxidant status.
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Rich in Antioxidants and Vitamins
The American Cancer Society notes that chlorella is rich in two antioxidants, vitamin C and carotenoids. The antioxidant activity of chlorella allows it to neutralize harmful free radicals that can contribute to DNA damage and cancer. Chlorella is particularly rich in chlorophyll, an antioxidant pigment that gives plants their green color. In addition to antioxidants, chlorella is rich in B-complex vitamins and iron.
The Effects of Chlorophyll
The Linus Pauling Institute notes that chlorophyll may have a variety of health-promoting properties. These include the detoxification of the body and the liver, improved wound healing, and protection against a DNA-damaging toxin known as aflatoxin, which is found in moldy grains, legumes and peanuts. According to the institute, chlorophyll may be effective in blocking certain cancer-causing toxins as well as reducing local inflammation, which may improve wound healing. In addition, chlorophyll may be effective as an internal deodorant, particularly for patients with foul-smelling wounds.
Pregnant and Breast-Feeding Women
Chlorella may have uses for both pregnant and breast-feeding women. The American Cancer Society notes that supplementing with 6 grams of chlorella per day can be effective in preventing anemia, a common symptom of pregnancy. A study published in 2007 in the "Journal of Medicinal Food" found that chlorella supplementation reduced dioxins -- chemical compounds that can negatively affect human health -- in breast milk, while simultaneously increasing immunoglobulin concentrations, which are antibodies that are important for immune function.
Preventative Health and Symptom Relief
A study published in 2010 in "Nutrition" found that male smokers who were given a dose of 6.3 grams of chlorella per day for six weeks experienced a significant decrease in white blood cell DNA damage. The researchers concluded that chlorella is an important whole-food supplement that should be included as part of a healthy diet. A study published in "Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine" in 2001 found that chlorella may have the potential to relieve symptoms of fibromyalgia, ulcerative colitis and hypertension while improving quality of life.