You don’t have to be an avid TikTok user to have caught wind of the recent chlorophyll trend. Not since kale have we seen this many people take their greens consumption so seriously!
You probably learned about chlorophyll in middle school biology, given it’s the stuff that keeps plants thriving, but many experts agree that chlorophyll’s popularity as a dietary supplement has true merit. Here, we break down five impressive health benefits.
What is chlorophyll?
In case you snoozed through 8th grade science class, chlorophyll is the green pigment found in plants that is essential for photosynthesis, the process through which plants convert light energy into usable energy, explains The Vitamin Shoppe nutritionist Brittany Michels, R.D.N.
“If it’s a green plant, then it most likely contains chlorophyll,” she says. “The list of key examples includes spinach, parsley, garden cress, chlorella, moringa, wheatgrass, spirulina, and alfalfa. Even celery provides chlorophyll, which is a big reason why celery juice began trending over a year ago.”
The thing is, once chlorophyll is extracted from the plants that contain it, it becomes unstable. Because of this, supplements provide a more stable, semi-synthetic, water-soluble version called chlorophyllin, explains Michels. “Chlorophyllin is obtained from the mixture of copper salts and sodium derived from chlorophyll, and is what’s in the green drops that are popping up everywhere.”
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Because the structure of chlorophyllin is very similar to that of chlorophyll, they’re purported to have similar health benefits.” That’s why you might see a supplement labeled “chlorophyll” that actually lists “chlorophyllin” in the ingredients.
“Liquid (water-soluble) chlorophyll supplements are usually a good source of water-soluble vitamins, such as B vitamins, vitamin C, amino acids, and some enzymes,” Michels continues. That said, “superfood options, such as chlorella, moringa, wheatgrass, and spirulina, contain chlorophyll in its natural and fat-soluble state, which may also allow for more fat-soluble nutrients to remain intact.”
The Health Benefits of Chlorophyll
Science is cool, right? Now, let’s take a closer look at what’s got people so excited about chlorophyll.
1. It’s A Natural deodorizer
Chlorophyll is used in deodorants and mouthwashes to neutralize odors, and it may even help to reduce odors from within the body, explains Axe. In fact, one study published in Life Sciences found chlorophyllin to be effective at reducing fishy odor in people with a condition called trimethylaminuria, a rare metabolic condition where a person is unable to break down trimethylamine, a natural compound with a distinctively stinky odor.
2. It Supports detoxification
Environmental contaminants—like car emissions, lead, heavy metals, and pesticides—can influence our metabolism, hormones, stress response, and immune system, explains Michels. “Chlorophyll’s molecular structure binds to these toxic chemicals and heavy metals, preventing absorption by and damage to the body,” she says. “For this reason, chlorophyll-packed chlorella is included in many heavy metal detox regimens.”
3. It promotes blood health and function
Since chlorophyll naturally produces oxygen (that’s its job in plants, after all!), it can help strengthen red blood cells. As a result, it can help your body better remove harmful impurities and toxins from the body, explains Daryl Gioffre, D.C., a functional nutritionist and board-certified chiropractor. “When cells have less oxygen, they break down prematurely, allowing viruses and bacterial pathogens to penetrate them faster.”
4. It’s good for your immune health
Because chlorophyll acts as an antioxidant, helps to cleanse our blood, and promotes the removal of toxins, it does your immune system health a solid, explains Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., C.N.S., D.C., founder of Ancient Nutrition and member of The Vitamin Shoppe Wellness Council.
5. It supports healthy skin
Chlorophyll’s antioxidant properties also mean it can promote skin health and wound healing, explains Axe. “It’s often touted as an anti-aging remedy because it may help to reduce signs of photoaging, or skin damage that’s caused by sun exposure,” he says. “It both works as an antioxidant that neutralizes oxidation that can cause skin damage and promotes collagen synthesis, which promotes healthy aging and skin health.” The natural compound may also work against unhealthy bacteria, thus supporting a clearer, less irritated complexion.
How to take chlorophyll
Anyone can benefit from eating foods that are rich in chlorophyll, particularly greens such as chlorella, spirulina, wheatgrass, and moringa. “These natural sources also provide an array of other nutrients, including but not limited to, antioxidants (carotenoids, zeaxanthin, lutein), vitamin D, B vitamins, iron, minerals, omega-3s, and protein,” says Michels. “Chlorophyllin, or supplements labeled as chlorophyll, may also provide a similar array of nutrients, but the specific nutrient profile depends on what it was extracted from.”
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If you are looking to glean most of your chlorophyll from natural food sources, Michels recommends eating raw vegetables. (Heat can destroy chlorophyll.) If you choose to take chlorophyll supplements or green superfood supplements that contain it, consider adding them to smoothies, acai bowls, yogurt, or your favorite drink,” she suggests. Most supplements contain 50 milligrams per serving, and instruct taking one serving one to three times per day. Axe recommends starting with one daily dose and taking it with a meal to promote nutrient absorption. Try The Vitamin Shoppe brand Liquid Chlorophyll or Nature’s Way Chlorofresh Liquid Chlorophyll.