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Quick Chlorophyll Summary Points

  • Chlorophyll is a pigment found in plants that give them their characteristic green colour.
  • Often used as a detox supplement, chlorophyll has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can support exercise recovery.
  • Chlorophyll can also affect glucose uptake, which can support glycogen replenishment.
  • Chlorophyll supplements are also advertised for fat and weight loss, however there haven't been many studies researching this.
  • Recommended chlorophyll dosage is 1-300mg/day taken generally in the morning. It can be easily stacked with a protein powder or put into a smoothie.

What is Chlorophyll?

Chlorophyll is the pigment in plants and algae that gives them their green colour. It is also the main molecule behind photosynthesis, which is the chemical reaction used by plants and algae to produce energy from sunlight. Chlorophyll has a similar structure to heme, the molecule in hemoglobin which carries oxygen round the bloodstream.

Where Does Chlorophyll Come From?

Chlorophyll may be found in the leaves and stems of all green plants, green algae, and cyanobacteria. It is found in a structure called the chloroplast. Chlorophyll is abundant in green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli and kale. The chlorophyll used in supplements is commonly extracted from alfalfa (Medicago sativa).

Chlorophyll Benefits

Chlorophyll is thought to have a number of benefits, and there is evidence that it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties (1).  Researchers have started looking at chlorophyll as an enhancer of cellular glucose uptake (2). Chlorophyll has known anti-cancer properties, and can protect against DNA damage by toxins (3). It has become popular in alternative medicine, and is also claimed to have benefits in improving the digestion, alkalinising and "deodorising" the body. It is often sold as a detox product, and many people believe it can improve the blood, possibly based upon its resemblance to the heme molecule. Chlorophyll is a source of magnesium, and some other trace elements and vitamins.

Chlorophyll Benefits For Bodybuilding

The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of chlorophyll may play a role in enhancing recovery after workouts, in addition to general health benefits, although there is no research into this directly. Higher glucose uptake in the cells can lead to greater glycogen storage, which may enhance pump and endurance. Magnesium is known for many benefits to the muscle, including the prevention of cramping, which may assist people who are prone to this condition.

Chlorophyll, Weight Loss and Detox

Chlorophyll has seen increasing popularity as a weight loss and detox supplement. While there have not as yet been scientific studies of the benefits of chlorophyll supplementation for these purposes, many people are using chlorophyll as part of their weight loss plan to neutralise free radicals and provide protection from toxins, rather than to burn fat.

Chlorophyll Side effects, Negatives and Safety Issues

The biggest negative of chlorophyll that many of the claims aren't backed up by a huge amount of research. Chlorophyll is reasonably well studied as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, but there is no direct study on the effect of chlorophyll on muscle repair. Likewise, only a single animal study has shown that chlorophyll has an effect on glucose uptake. Chlorophyll is something that is readily available through the consumption of green vegetables, and it is undeniable that consuming the recommended amount of chlorophyll in its native form would yield more nutrients than supplementing with purified chlorophyll. Chlorophyll may have a number of minor side effects, such as digestive complaints, skin rash, and greening of the tongue and stools.

Chlorophyll Dosage

The recommended adult dose is 1-300mg per day. This is the equivalent of a moderate to high intake of green vegetables. It is usually taken in the morning before food.

Chlorophyll Supplements

Chlorophyll is often sold as a stand alone supplement like Swisse Ultiboost Chlorophyll, but can be found in many natural greens supplements like Elemental Nutrition Mega Greens.

What Should I Stack Chlorophyll With?

Chlorophyll will stack with anything. Try mixing it into a morning protein shake for an antioxdant boost.

(1) Subramoniam A, Asha VV, Nair SA, Sasidharan SP, Sureshkumar PK, Rajendran KN, Karunagaran D, Ramalingam K. Chlorophyll revisited: anti-inflammatory activities of chlorophyll a and inhibition of expression of TNF-α gene by the same. Inflammation. 2012 Jun;35(3):959-66.
(2) Che BN, Oksbjerg N, Hellgren LI, Nielsen JH, Young JF. Phytanic acid stimulates glucose uptake in a model of skeletal muscles, the primary porcine myotubes. Lipids Health Dis. 2013 Feb 11;12:14.
(3) Simonich MT. Research Newsletter Fall/Winter 2006.  Linus Pauling Institute. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/fw06/chlorophylls.html Accessed 10th December 2013.

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