Chlorella is Far Better Than Spirulina and Here's Why
Chlorella and spirulina are two different types of algae superfoods. And while chlorella and spirulina are similar enough to be "cousins," they each have properties that make their nutrient profiles unique.
By Brandi Black, RHN
Chlorella Contains a True Nucleus
It may sound like you've time traveled back to biology class, but I promise to make this short and sweet: chlorella contains a true nucleus, while spirulina does not- and this is a major difference when it comes to promoting your cellular health.
You see, a very important nutrient called Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF) is found within chlorella's nucleus. And Chlorella Growth Factor is extremely concentrated in the nucleic acids, RNA and DNA, which are essential to help your cells repair and regenerate.
CGF allows chlorella to rapidly grow and multiply by a factor of 4 every 20-24 hours. This remarkable property of Chlorella Growth Factor translates to our cells when we ingest chlorella, thereby promoting cellular repair and regeneration.
Since nucleic acids help improve cellular health, they also increase energy production (which takes place in your cells) and boost immunity. CGF can also promote anti-aging, because the healthier your cells are, the more youthful your body feels from the inside out.
As you can guess from the name, Chlorella Growth Factor is entirely unique to chlorella and cannot be found in any other food on the planet.
The Bottom Line: By having a true nucleus, chlorella is richer in nucleic acids than spirulina, which are crucial for cellular repair and regeneration.
Chlorella is the Only Plant Source of Active B12 (A Rare Find for Vegans)
For vegans, vegetarians, and anyone who follows a primarily plant based diet, this is especially important for you to know: chlorella contains active B12, a highly absorbable form of B12, while spirulina contains inactive B12, a poorly absorbed form.
In fact, inactive B12 (the form of B12 found in most plant foods) has been shown to not only be poorly absorbed, but prevent your body from using active B12 from other food sources. This means consuming too many foods that contain inactive B12 may lead to B12 deficiencies , even if you have food sources of active B12, such as chicken or beef, in your diet.
Active B12 is mostly found in animal products- however, chlorella has been proven to be one of the rare plant foods to contain active B12, which makes it an excellent food for vegans and vegetarians to prevent B12 deficiency.
In fact, this study showed that 9g of chlorella taken each day over the course of 60 days was enough to significantly reduce MMA and homocysteine blood serum levels, which are markers of B12 deficiency.
The Bottom Line: Chlorella is one of the rare plant sources to contain active B12, a form which can be easily absorbed by the body. Spirulina does NOT contain active B12. Inactive B12 is poorly absorbed and may prevent the body from absorbing active B12 in other foods.
Chlorella is Higher in Chlorophyll
Chlorella is a superior source of the antioxidant chlorophyll, compared to spirulina.
Chlorella's deep green hue is a sign that it's rich in chlorophyll, which gives all green plant foods their green color. In fact, chlorella is the richest source of chlorophyll, compared to any other plant food. The darker green a plant food is, the more chlorophyll it contains. Chlorella contains 63 mg of chlorophyll per 3 grams, while spirulina contains only 33 mg per 3 grams.
The Bottom Line: Chlorella is the best source of chlorophyll on the planet. Chlorella can safely and naturally eliminate heavy metals and other toxins from the body. Chlorophyll also promotes normal blood clotting, hormone balance and digestive health. It’s been observed to have a healing effect on inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia and more
Chlorella is Higher in Omega-3's
Another key difference between chlorella vs. spirulina is that chlorella is higher in omega-3 essential fatty acids.
Now, omega-6's can cause inflammation in the body when they're consumed in excess- in the form of linoleic acids. Linoleic acids are found in vegetable oils such as canola, soybean, safflower and sunflower oil (this is why deep fried foods, processed and packaged foods and fast foods cooked with vegetable oils are all considered proinflammatory foods).
However, another form of omega-6's- the type spirulina contains- is called gamma linoleic acid, or GLA. GLA acts as a natural anti-inflammatory, but since we already get so many omega-6's in our diets, it's far more beneficial to our health to focus on eating foods that have a higher omega-3 ratio, such as chlorella. This helps counteract the proinflammatory properties of linoleic acids and high oleic vegetable oils, which leaves us less susceptible to developing illness, pain and disease.
Based on the properties of chlorophyll and omega-3 essential fatty acids, chlorella is a nutritional powerhouse to support your body's natural inflammatory response.
The Bottom Line: Chlorella is richer in omega-3 essential fatty acids than spirulina, which are needed to support your body's natural inflammatory response.
What to Look For in a High Quality Chlorella Supplement
Chlorella can absorb heavy metals and toxins if they're present in the water it's grown in. However, because chlorella has more specific growing conditions than spirulina, there's less of a risk for agricultural and bacterial contamination.
To be on the safe side, always make sure your chlorella supplement is third-party tested which ensures quality control and product safety, and that it's free from dangerous levels of contaminants. All Sun Chlorella® supplements are regularly third-party tested for heavy metals and other contaminants.
Not all chlorella supplements are created equal.
A Pulverized Cell Wall Chlorella is far superior than a Cracked or Broken Cell Wall Chlorella
As we covered, chlorella has a thick outer shell that we can't digest, which houses all of its beneficial nutrients. Therefore, chlorella must undergo processing to access the cell nucleus, thereby producing a digestible nutritional supplement.
How the cell wall is processed is another key difference many people miss when it comes to whether or not a chlorella supplement is high quality. The processing method will determine whether or not your body can actually digest and absorb chlorella's powerful nutrition.
Pulverization breaks down chlorella's cell wall entirely, dramatically improving the bioavailability of the nutrients ( to be no less than 80% available ).
Think of it this way…
Imagine the chlorella cell wall is the shell of a walnut.
Your body can't digest the walnut shell, but if you crack or break the shell into pieces, you can access a few (but not all) of the nutrients inside. But if you pulverize a walnut shell, all of the walnut pieces become available for you to eat. This is exactly how pulverization works with chlorella's "shell" too.
It's not enough have "cracked cell" or "broken cell" chlorella- instead, using a pulverization method to break down chlorella's cell wall ensures you're getting the most nutrition possible from your chlorella supplement.
The Bottom Line: If you're going to take a chlorella supplement: pulverization is the best way to fully access the nutrients chlorella has to offer. Other processing methods aren't complete, and may leave you with "expensive urine," instead of proper absorption.
Where to Find Pulverized Chlorella Supplement
Sun Chlorella® supplements are the only chlorella that is pulverized using a unique method called DYNO®-Mill technology, which maximizes the digestibility of chlorella's nutrition. Unlike other common chlorella processing methods, it preserves chlorella's delicate nutrients by avoiding artificial light, high heat and chemicals, which can contaminate and damage chlorella nutrients.
You can choose from three varieties of pulverized chlorella: Sun Chlorella tablets, Sun Chlorella granules and Sun Chlorella powder, which can be purchased here .
Cautions With Taking Spirulina
Spirulina is known to absorb everything in its environment. Since it can be grown in a variety of different environments (from freshwater to marshlands and salt lakes), spirulina is more prone to heavy metal toxicity, pesticide and bacterial contamination than chlorella. In fact, spirulina supplements can even become contaminated with bacteria such as salmonella.
1. Ensure it's Third-Party Tested
All supplement companies, including spirulina and chlorella supplements, should have information about testing available to the public. You can contact the company and request this information.
2. Purchase Certified Organic Spirulina
Certified organic spirulina will ensure it hasn't been sprayed or come in contact with unsafe levels of pesticides.
3. Avoid Spirulina Grown in Lakes
Spirulina grown in lakes is more susceptible to becoming contaminated with heavy metals, bacteria and environmental pollutants because the growing conditions cannot be entirely controlled. Instead, choose spirulina that's been grown in controlled freshwater pools surrounded by clean air.
In summary, Sun Chlorella chlorella is always the best choice when it comes to receiving the most nutritional value for your dollar. In fact, the nucleic acids, unbeatable chlorophyll content and highly absorbable active B12 found in chlorella make it a superior "all-in-one" to most nutritional supplements combined. Spirulina still offers some nutrition as a health supplement—as long as it's grown in safe conditions and tested for contaminants.
It’s always important to check in with a licensed healthcare practitioner before adding a nutritional supplement to your diet.