What's The Chlorophyll Craze About?
by Victoria Le Maire, RD, LD
Last Updated: May 13, 2021
Nutrition trends pop up every few months, especially in a digital age where social media is ever-present in many Americans lives. The latest to pop up is chlorophyll, sold as a supplement in various forms. As a registered dietitian, I’m often asked about the accuracy of claims made in the newest nutrition crazes. This article provides insight on chlorophyll and will empower you with the knowledge to make an informed decision about potentially using this supplement.
What is chlorophyll?
Before we dive into this trend, it’s important to understand what chlorophyll is. Let’s jump back to school, where the science of chlorophyll came up. Chlorophyll is the most abundant pigment in plants— it’s even in the plants we eat! Chlorophyll is responsible for giving plants and algae their green color. This pigment is essential for the process of photosynthesis, where plants turn sunlight into functional energy.
In supplements, chlorophyll is found in the form chlorophyllin or sodium copper chlorophyllin. Chlorophyllin is a semi-synthetic mixture that is water-soluble, unlike chlorophyll, allowing it to dissolve in a liquid and potentially making it better absorbed by the body.
Chlorophyll and research.
Researchers have found that chlorophyllin contains a higher number of antioxidants than natural chlorophyll; however, further research is warranted. Most studies that have been conducted to date have been done on animals and laboratory cells, but not many in humans. Although chlorophyll may have various health benefits, there are few adequate studies to back them up. A lack of research on a supplement suggests a lack of knowledge about its benefits, safe amounts to use, and potential side effects or interactions.
When considering taking a supplement, reflect on what your current diet looks like. While chlorophyllin may provide some benefits, the benefits are limited compared to getting chlorophyll from whole foods. Leafy greens tend to be the champions of chlorophyll, like spinach and parsley. Spinach has ~24 mg of chlorophyll per cup size. Other leafy greens include romaine lettuce, arugula, and collard greens, which range anywhere from 4-15 mg per cup serving. According to the CDC only 1 in 10 adults get enough vegetables in their diet, putting them at risk for chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Choosing a variety of greens will not only provide chlorophyll but additional vitamins, minerals, and fiber that will help your body work at its peak function. The current recommendations are to get at least 3 cups of vegetables daily. If you’re currently meeting these recommendations, then you likely don’t need to supplement with chlorophyll.
When looking at the lack of evidence around supplementing with chlorophyll, we recommend taking a cautious approach. Chlorophyll supplementation may not be appropriate for people with certain health conditions, as potential side effects with medications remain unknown. If you’re considering adding chlorophyll to your regimen, talk with your healthcare provider about the pros and cons based on your individualized health status.
Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.