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Chlorella - Single-Celled Green Algae

by Michael McInerney(more info)

listed in nutraceuticals, originally published in issue 267 - January 2021


What Is Chlorella?

Chlorella is a single-celled species of green algae that grows in fresh-water. It is one of the earliest forms of life, with scientists believing it to be approximately 2 billion years old.

The name comes from the Greek word ‘chloros’ meaning ‘green’, and the Latin word ‘ella’, which means small. There are over 30 different species of chlorella, but just two are mainly used in supplements – chlorella Vulgaris and chlorella pyrenoidosa. Sun chlorella use the chlorella pyrenoidosa strain.


McInerney 267


Brief Background – How it is Used Worldwide

Although it has existed for billions of years, chlorella has only been consumed by humans since the early part of last century. The Japanese were some of the first to start consuming chlorella as a supplement and millions of people there use it today. Chlorella’s use has now spread to Europe and America where its popularity is growing rapidly.

What are the Key Nutritious Properties?

Sun Chlorella is a true superfood and is densely packed with phytonutrients, including vitamins A, D, E, K, C, B complex, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, iron, zinc and biotin. It is over 50% protein, containing essential amino acids, along with essential fatty acids.


Sun Chlorella Powder - White


What are the Health Benefits?

Chlorella has been extensively researched and it is thought to have many benefits. Just some of them are…

  • Skin care – research[1] has shown chlorella may have an ability to inhibit an enzyme called elastase. Elastase acts to break down a protein found in our skin called elastin. Elastin plays an important role in keeping our skin looking young and gives it its elasticity and an ability to rebound when pinched or pulled. Less elastin means less elasticity, which leads inevitably to skin sagging and wrinkles. By inhibiting the elastase enzyme, which breaks down elastin, chlorella could provide a powerful tool to help our skin stay young;
  • Gut microbiome - some types of algae are thought to be able to support our gut microbiomes[2](the micro-organisms that inhabit our digestive system). Research in this area is ongoing, but healthy microbiomes have been linked to everything from supporting weight loss and immune function to boosting our energy levels;
  • Exercise - Studies have shown the fresh water algae could help with improving the efficiency of the body’s energy production and lactate removal systems,[3] by improving VO2max[4]  (a measurement of the maximum amount of oxygen a person can utilize during intense exercise) and reducing the impact of intense exercise on the immune system.[5]

What Makes Sun Chlorella Different

Chlorella in its true form is indigestible as it is protected by an extremely tough outer cell wall. This cell wall needs to be processed to release the active constituents from inside, otherwise it remains indigestible.

Typically, chlorella’s cell wall is either cracked, broken, or dried, which Independent research has shown offers a bioavailability yield of between 50 – 55% of the active constituents. Sun Chlorella are the only company in the world that uses Dyno Mill technology to ‘pulverise’ the cell wall, which the same independent research has shown produces a yield between 85 – 90% of the active constituents.

This is one of the main reasons that separates Sun Chlorella from all other brands currently on the market.

What Medical and Scientific Studies have been Conducted?

Sun Chlorella have conducted studies with many universities and research centres from around the world. For a breakdown of the research:

How Should One Take or Supplement Chlorella?

It can be taken in either tablet or powder form, and both are popular. The tablets are convenient when you’re on the go, whilst the powder can easily be added to shakes and smoothies, or sprinkled over food.

How Quickly can Users See Results?

This varies from person to person, but many people notice they feel more energized from taking chlorella within just a week, after which some of the other effects, mentioned above, can begin to be felt.

What Makes Chlorella a Super food?

There are three main reasons:

  1. It’s nutrient density – vitamins, minerals, protein and essential fatty acids are all present;
  2. Chlorophyll – it is a very rich source of chlorophyll. It contains 5 times more than spirulina. 7 times more than barley grass and wheatgrass. Chlorophyll has shown to have a number of health benefits and is one of the main reasons why greens are included in so many juices and smoothies;
  3. Added benefits – in addition to the nutrients it contains, studies point towards chlorella having a host of other potential benefits.


  1. Comparative analyses and evaluation of the cosmeceutical potential of selected Chlorella strains. Chatzikonstantinou, M., Kalliampakou, A., Gatzogia, M. et al. J Appl Phycol. doi:10.1007/s10811-016-0909-1
  2. J Appl Phycol (2017) 29:949–982. Algae as nutritional and functional food sources: revisiting our understanding. Mark L. Wells1 & Philippe Potin2 & James S. Craigie3 & John A. Raven4,5 & Sabeeha S. Merchant6 & Katherine E. Helliwell 7,8 & Alison G. Smith7 & Mary Ellen Camire 9 & Susan H. Brawley1
  3. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2017 April 1; 312(4) 25. High-intensity intermittent exercise training with chlorella intake accelerates exercise performance and muscle glycolytic and oxidative capacity in rats. Horii N, Hasegawa N1, Fujie S1, Uchida M, Miyamoto-Mikami E, Hashimoto T1, Tabata I2, Iemitsu M3.
  4. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: Volume 50 2018 - Issue 5S - p 768. Chlorella Intake Further Enhances Anaerobic And Aerobic Capacities Increased By High Intensity Intermittent Training. Fujie, Shumpei1; Hasegawa, Natsuki1; Horii, Naoki1; Oshiden, Moe1; Tsuji, Katsunori1; Xu, YuZhong1; Mizoguchi, Toru2; Okumura, Eri2; Tabata, Izumi, FACSM1; Iemitsu, Motoyuki1
  5. Eur J Nutr. 2017 Aug 19. doi: 10.1007/s00394-017-1525-9. The effect of Chlorella pyrenoidosa supplementation on immune responses to 2 days of intensified training. Chidley C1, Davison G2.


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About Michael McInerney

Michael McInerney BSc(Hons) is an experienced clinical nutritional therapist, sports therapist and body worker based in central London. He has worked with athletes and the general public in a clinical setting since 2004, and holds a BSc honours degree in Nutritional Therapy from the University of Westminster. Michael is also the head of Training and Technical support for Sun Chlorella UK and may be contacted via Tel: 020 3478 1090;

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