Most algae, including chlorella, act like plants by creating energy from sunlight — a process called photosynthesis. But they’re still considered "simple" because their cells and tissues are not organized into the many distinct internal organs.
Naturally growing algae are an important source of food, especially in Asia. They provide many vitamins, including vitamin E,folate and vitamin C, and are also rich in iodine, potassium, iron, magnesium and calcium.
Some species are also a rich source of beta-carotene and B vitamins.1,2
Chlorella - An “Underground” Supplement
Chlorella was one of the first algae to be cultivated as food and formulated into supplements. Industrial production of chlorella products began in Korea and Japan following the Second World War.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, researchers were able to isolate many nutrients from chlorella, including amino acids, protein, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants.
It's been somewhat of an “underground” supplement for nutritional enthusiasts, as it’s taken several decades to gain the attention of mainstream supplement users.
These days, it’s finally growing in popularity as an important immune booster.
Chlorella Improves Immune Parameters
Researchers from Yonsei Univeristy in Korea studied chlorella’s immune properties.
They recently completed a short-term study measuring changes in specific immune parameters during chlorella supplementation.3
The researchers recruited 51 healthy Koreans for their 8 week study. All participants were randomized into either a group receiving 5 grams a day of chlorella or a placebo group. The results were quite impressive. Here’s what they found:3
- The activity of Natural Killer Cells, a type of immune cell, significantly increased in the chlorella group.
- Two immune proteins involved in fighting viruses and bacteria, interferon-gamma and interleukin-1 beta, increased significantly in the chlorella group.
The main limitation of the study is that it was conducted in healthy people. The question now is this: Will chlorella show similar effects in sick people who really need this type of immune boost?
This can only be answered through additional research, which we look forward to.
Chlorella Boosts Your Built-in Cancer and Infection Fighting System
Supporting a robust immune system is really one of the key steps to living a longer life. Your immune system is responsible for fighting and destroying anything that is foreign to your own cells and tissues. That includes not only bacteria and viruses and yeast, but also cancer cells.
As such, consider adding chlorella to your list of immune boosters. Many of us already take vitamins C and D and other immune nutrients, like selenium and bitter herbs.
Adding chlorella to this list may very well be a good idea if strengthening immunity is important to you!
- J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Dec 12;55(25):10470-5. Epub 2007 Nov 10.
- Arch Microbiol. 1977 Feb 4;112(1):57-9.
- Nutrition Journal 2012, 11:53 doi:10.1186/1475-2891-11-53 (http://www.nutritionj.com/content/11/1/53/abstract)