Nutrition Notes

Chlorella to Support Antioxidative Status and Elimination Pathways

Chlorella (Chlorella vulgaris) is a botanical that has been shown to help support cellular health and detoxification pathways in the presence of certain toxins. It is a unicellular microscopic green alga that contains high amounts of chlorophyll and other potentially health-supportive micronutrients, including lutein, ascorbic acid, riboflavin, and retinol. Emerging research indicates that it may also help support liver health, optimal cellular function, and the body’s response to certain age-related changes. 

Laboratory and animal studies indicate chlorella may help support antioxidative status during toxin exposure. An animal study assessed the potential efficacy of chlorella administration on liver fibrosis induced by carbon tetrachloride, a common environmental toxin that has been shown to cause liver damage during chronic exposure. Improvements in the levels of reactive oxygen species were observed after chlorella administration. The authors attribute this activity to chlorella’s potential ability to help support the gene expression of superoxide dismutase and catalase through the modulation of forkhead box protein O1 (FOXO1) and phosphorylated 5’-adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (p-AMPK). 

Preclinical evidence suggests that chlorella may help promote cellular regeneration and differentiation in the presence of age-related changes. A laboratory study in human skeletal myoblasts showed that C. vulgaris helped support cell proliferation and helped increase the percentage of cells in the G0/G1 phase in the presence of senescence-associated changes.  

Both preclinical and clinical research indicates that chlorella may help support DNA integrity and normal methylation during and after exposure to certain toxins including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Chlorella is thought to act by directly interfering with the absorption of PAHs. In addition, chlorophyllin, a derivative of chlorophyll, may also help support certain aspects of liver health and detoxification pathways. It has been shown in animal and human studies to help prevent the absorption of toxins, including heterocyclic amines and aflatoxin.

Telomere shortening has been associated with certain aspects of age-related changes and cellular senescence. Preclinical research indicates that chlorella may potentially help preserve telomere length. A controlled laboratory study explored the potential efficacy of C. vulgaris in healthy skin fibroblast cell lines from both elderly populations and younger adults that were exposed to oxidative stress. At the study terminus, C. vulgaris was shown to significantly help prevent telomere length reductions and decrease telomerase activity

While more research is needed, particularly in human populations, evidence suggests that chlorella may help support antioxidative status and optimal cellular health. It may also help promote normal detoxification pathways and toxin elimination. 

By Dr. C. Ambrose, ND, MAT