You probably saw TikTokers pouring green solutions in their water bottle. Or you noticed Kourtney Kardashian adding green drops to her yogurt. What is the liquid chlorophyll trend? And is it good for you?
I am a registered dietitian and I am here to answer all your questions. Let’s start with the most basic one.
What is chlorophyll?
In biology, chlorophyll is the green pigment that interacts with light. It plays an essential function in photosynthesis. French scientists first discovered it in 1818, when they separated the green color from leaves using alcohol.
The food industry uses chlorophyll as a colorant agent. It is pretty normal in the food chain to use specific elements for pigmenting. Another famous natural colorant is Vitamin A (or in general carotenoids).
Where can you find natural chlorophyll?
This nutrient is present naturally in most green vegetables:
- Green beans
It can also be ingested through chlorophyllin tablets. powder or capsules. However, the effects of chlorophyllin supplementation alone are unclear. Further research needs to be done.
According to the 2018 scientific study "In vitro bioavailability of chlorophyll pigments from edible seaweeds", the typical absorption rate is 3%. Nori seaweed has the highest rate (8%), followed by spinach (5-10%) and peas (2-5%).
What is liquid chlorophyll used for?
The liquid supplement gained popularity in the past years thanks to a list of promising benefits: from acne treatments to immune system and better body odor. In the next paragraphs, I will present to you all the supporting evidence on this topic.
In general, doctors and dietitians find supplementing chlorophyll unusual since the green pigment is present in most fruits and vegetables.
Natural vs Liquid Chlorophyll
Before buying chlorophyll juice, you need to be aware of this important distinction. Even if defined as chlorophyll, today’s supplements actually contain chlorophyllin. There are two reasons for it:
- Liquid chlorophyll cannot dilute in water. It is liposoluble. While chlorophyllin is a mixture of water-soluble element.
- Chlorophyllin is more stable because of the central copper element (instead of magnesium).
So which one is better? The natural chlorophyll or chlorophyllin in supplements?
All over the internet, there is the idea that chlorophyllin has a higher absorption rate compared to natural chlorophyll. This information is actually misleading. It was just more for scientists to prove the absorption rate in chlorophyllin (the water-based one) compared to the normal chlorophyll. This doesn't mean that the normal one doesn't get digested.
On the contrary, a 2018 article proves that chlorophyll gets absorbed. Even more, a 2005 scientific study demonstrates how natural chlorophyll (not the supplement) reduces the risk of colon cancer in mice. As a dietitian who supports whole foods, natural foods will always be more be the priority.
According to the 2014 systematic review, chlorophyll's antioxidant activity brings a number of benefits. However, it is important to keep in mind that more studies are required. At the moment, most experiments are focused on phytoestrogens and carotenoids.
- Reduced cancer risk
- Antiviral effect, especially against herpes
- Improved body odor and bad breath
- Burns and wounds healing
Is chlorophyll safe?
Chlorophyll ingestion is considered safe under the recommended dosage. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Advisory Review Panel on over-the-counter drugs has suggested that chlorophyllin is safe in oral doses up to 100 mg three times a day.
In general, chlorophyll found naturally in food doesn't show any side effects. Problems may surface when the ingestion is done via supplements when the daily recommended dosage is exceeded.
- Stomach pain
- Skin rash
Due to lack of evidence, pregnant women and children should not supplement it.
As a registered dietitian, I recommend you simply to eat more green vegetables. There is no need to waste resources on supplements when chlorophyll is everywhere. Along with these nutrients, green leaves will also nurture you with fiber!