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Chlorella: Pros and Cons of Algae - Holistic Living Journal

Chlorella: Pros and Cons of Algae


If you thought about taking this new drink, keep reading. It has some great health benefits for you, but you also want to take care of possible side effects.

What Is Chlorella and What Does Chlorella Do?

Chlorella is a genus of thirteen species of single-celled green algae belonging to the division Chlorophyta. They contain a wide range of nutrients, such as omega-3s, chlorophyll, lycopene, vitamin C, and carotenoids like beta-carotene and lutein.

The best-known use is the reduction of lipid cholesterol and people with elevated levels. Several studies have shown supplementation with chlorella can help reduce overall cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol. A meta-study in 2021 showed the optimum level of supplementation was 1500 milligrams per day and at higher levels showed no additional effect.[1]

Some studies found that people with diabetes mildly increased glucose control levels. Still, it was unclear if the supplement or improvement in diet and water consumption contributed to this.[1]

Since chlorella is a good source of iron, it may be effective in helping people offset anemia. In a 2010 study in Plant Food for Human Nutrition, researchers in Japan used a 6-gram daily dose of chlorella in 70 pregnant people. They had significantly higher hemoglobin levels during their second and third trimesters.[2]

Other health benefits may include (but do not include enough study to agree conclusively):[3]

  • Detoxification
  • Increased immunity
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Increased eye health
  • Increased lung capacity and oxygen usage
  • Supporting digestion and liver function
  • Reducing PMS

Despite popular marketing claims, chlorella, nor any food or drink, cannot alkalize your blood or body. The theory is not based on scientific reality or an understanding of physiology and should be taken as a sign of an inferior product.

Are There any Side Effects to Chlorella?[4]

When used in moderation, there are no reported side effects. However, chlorella is high in iodine and vitamin K. Taking excessive amounts could cause issues with blood clotting and your thyroid.

Some people experience mild gastrointestinal discomfort when they start taking or take too much chlorella. That can include gas, bloating, indigestion, and diarrhea. Additionally, allergic reactions, including asthma and anaphylaxis, have been reported, particularly in people who are allergic to mold. Chlorella may increase photosensitivity, increasing the risk of sun rash and sunburn.

How To Take Chlorella to Get the Best Benefit

Most normal doses of chlorella are taken at approximately 3 to 5 grams daily. Many people find it easiest to take this supplement in tablet form, but it can also be mixed with food and drink in its powdered form. Using it in low-heat meals does not diminish the nutritional value.

Many people enjoy adding chlorella to smoothies, stir-fries, and other highly flavored dishes to cover the aftertaste of seaweed it can leave behind.

If this is something you think you could benefit from, you can give it a try. Start slow and at lower doses until you are sure you do not experience any side effects.


1: Hosseini AM, Keshavarz SA, Nasli-Esfahani E, Amiri F, Janani L. The effects of Chlorella supplementation on glycemic control, lipid profile and anthropometric measures on patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Eur J Nutr. 2021;60(6):3131-3141.

2: Nakano S, Takekoshi H, Nakano M. Chlorella pyrenoidosa supplementation reduces the risk of anemia, proteinuria and edema in pregnant women. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2010 Mar;65(1):25-30. doi:10.1007/s11130-009-0145-9

3: Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed) [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); 2006–. Chlorella. 2021 Jun 21. PMID: 30000882.

4: Rzymski P, Jaśkiewicz M. Microalgal food supplements from the perspective of Polish consumers: patterns of use, adverse events, and beneficial effects. J Appl Phycol. 2017;29(4):1841-1850. doi:10.1007/s10811-017-1079-5


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