One of the hottest health trends on the market right now is chlorophyll supplements. Yes, that's right; the green pigment present in everything from the grass underfoot to the leaves of the trees above has been isolated and reduced down into a supplement, and it's available for purchase at nearly any health food store.
The potential benefits of chlorophyll are numerous, but that's not what this post is about. If you want to read more about them and why you should consider chlorophyll as a supplement, take a look at some of our other posts on the subject. Today, we're assuming you've decided you want to take it, but you're not sure how.
There are a lot of different ways you can take in chlorophyll. Which one is best? The answer is: it depends. There are a few benefits and drawbacks to each method. Let's take a look.
Chlorophyll Vs. Chlorophyllin
Before we begin, one thing we should mention is the difference between chlorophyll and chlorophyllin.
Chlorophyll is the natural molecule found in plants. It is a nearly symmetrical compound called a porphyrin ring, made out of hydrocarbons centered around a magnesium atom. There are actually two slightly different versions of chlorophyll, named a and b, which are slightly different colors and capture different wavelengths of light for photosynthesis.
Chlorophyll is difficult to extract whole from a plant. Just about any method you use to extract it ends up damaging it, breaking it down, or otherwise destroying it. Thus, most supplements you find on the market are not chlorophyll, but rather chlorophyllin.
Chlorophyllin is a structurally identical molecule to chlorophyll, except rather than being centered around magnesium, it's centered around copper instead. It's still green, and it still has the same structure, it just has a different core atom. If you're curious about the molecular diagrams, or a deeper dive into the construction and biological purpose of chlorophyll, you can read this page.
Chlorophyll and chlorophyllin are often used interchangeably as supplements, and you'll rarely see people specify which one is which when they recommend a chlorophyll product. This is because, in most experiments, the two will function nearly identically. The health benefits you get from chlorophyll and the health benefits you get from chlorophyllin are the same.
There have been a few experiments and studies that have indicated they might not share 100% of their benefits, but those studies are minor and have only been performed in rats. A lot more study is necessary to verify the benefits of both chlorophyll and chlorophyllin.
Just remember the difference might be meaningful in the future, and that some methods of getting a chlorophyll supplement might be chlorophyllin instead.
Option 1: Pure Vegetables
Your first potential option for imbibing chlorophyll is through vegetables. What better way to get chlorophyll in your diet than through the plants it comes from directly? Then you don't have to worry about processing, you get all the additional fiber, vitamins, and minerals that come in vegetables, and they're tasty to boot.
The trouble is two-fold here.
First of all, chlorophyll is a relatively fragile molecule. When you eat vegetables, you actually destroy a lot of the chlorophyll in them, and relatively little of it actually makes its way into your bodily system. You have to eat a lot of veggies to get to the same amount of chlorophyll you would get from a supplement. You will also likely need to lightly steam or eat your veggies raw because cooking can denature the molecule and break it down more. For veggie fans out there, you might notice that this means abandoning some of the more delicious veggie preparations.
Secondly, chlorophyll is a vibrant molecule, which means there's actually less of it in vegetables than you might think. You can get a lot of chlorophyll in a small supplement, but it might take a lot of vegetables to get the same effective dose.
There's also the worry about calories. Vegetables are healthy and packed with great phytonutrients, but they do contain calories, and you can only eat so much before you're full. Plus, the more veggies you eat, the less of other things you can eat, and that can imbalance your diet. Even vegans need to take in protein and carbs from somewhere.
Overall, while we heartily recommend eating plenty of veggies in your diet, you should still consider a chlorophyll supplement in addition to your normal vegetable intake.
Option 2: Chlorophyll Powder
The second option is chlorophyll powder. Powdered supplements can be found in a wide variety of forms, including:
- Tablets, that you dissolve or crush up to use, or swallow whole.
- Capsules, gel-caps filled with powder that you swallow and allow to dissolve in your stomach.
- Dedicated powders, a simple powdered chlorophyll that can be scooped and used in recipes, smoothies, or mixed with water for a simple green drink.
- Mixed powders, like our Super Greens mix, which include chlorophyll, as well as a variety of other healthy plant ingredients to give it more flavor, more phytonutrients, and more healthy vitamins and minerals.
Chlorophyll powder used to be the most popular way to get chlorophyll as a supplement, but its popularity has gradually declined over the last few years. First, chlorophyll as a whole declined as other supplements took center stage. Then, when chlorophyll started coming back into the spotlight, other preparations like chlorophyll liquids have gained popularity.
Still, chlorophyll powder is a good mainstay and a good option. You may want to double-check which kind of powder you get, however. You'll often find two kinds:
- Chlorophyll powders, which are made up of a vegetable like spinach or another leafy green, dried and crumbled into a powder.
- Chlorophyllin powders, which are synthetic and made in a lab. They're very similar, as mentioned above, but tend to have a more uniform color and composition, and fewer additional nutrients because they don't include whole plants.
Neither of these is inherently bad or anything, you just want to make sure you know what you're getting out of it. Don't go expecting a robust profile of phytonutrients when you're just getting a pure chlorophyllin supplement.
Option 3: Chlorophyll Drops
Chlorophyll drops are generally chlorophyllin, and they are often concentrated as a liquid. Essentially, it's a suspension of chlorophyllin in a carrier liquid, sometimes oil, sometimes water. Usually, it's concentrated enough that a single dose is a few drops, rather than a whole scoop or something measured in tablespoons.
Chlorophyll drops can be tricky. Some of them are excellent, healthy, and safe. Others are manufactured by shady sellers and use essential oils as a base, which can be dangerous if it gets on your skin. Essential oils have also only been approved by the FDA for use as aromatherapy oils, not as topical or as ingested supplements. Concentrated essential oils can irritate or burn the skin, and can cause digestive problems that can last longer than the time you spend taking the supplement.
Note that this is not to say that all chlorophyll drops use essential oils or that they are all bad for you. It's a gray area of supplements that has a lot of companies based in China selling unregulated products. As with any supplement, we highly recommend that you trust the supplier you're buying your chlorophyll from.
Option 4: Chlorophyll Water
Chlorophyll water can actually refer to two different things.
The first is a less concentrated chlorophyll liquid, like what we sell as our liquid chlorophyll supplement. This is a concentrated chlorophyll suspended in a liquid – in our case, purified water – with a few additional ingredients to keep it in suspension and give it additional flavor, like vegetable glycerin, citric acid, and stevia.
With this kind of chlorophyll, your primary use case is taking a tablespoon of it (or a single dose, depending on the product you're using; we're using ours for reference) and mixing it with a full glass of water. You can drink it, or you can make a slightly more concentrated version of it to use as a mouthwash, gargle, or other oral health treatment.
The other kind of chlorophyll water is, essentially, the resulting beverage. You can also find chlorophyll water as a stand-alone beverage at some health food stores. It's usually chlorophyll mixed with water and other flavorings, typically fruit juices, to cut back on the flavor of the green chlorophyll.
You can use concentrated chlorophyll as an additive for juices and smoothies as well. We like to recommend it as an additive for fruit and vegetable smoothies made for breakfast or as snacks throughout the day. Some people prefer to override the taste with other ingredients, which we'll cover in another article soon, so stay on the lookout for that!
Option 5: Algae
Another option is one of the algae supplements. Chlorophyll isn't just for plants; the algae that bloom in ponds and other liquid pools can be harvested and processed into a supplement. You've likely seen this on health food shelves or recommended as a supplement in the form of spirulina or chlorella. Both of these are different forms of algae, listed as superfoods that are high in certain nutrients as well as chlorophyll.
This is another way to make sure you're getting real chlorophyll rather than chlorophyllin if that's of concern to you. However, it's much stronger in flavor and has its own range of preparations, so it's worth discussing another time. In fact, we've covered some of it before.
Since algae isn't really a pure chlorophyll supplement, we're not digging deep into it here today. You can get a dose of chlorophyll from it, but if you're taking it, you probably want to do so for the other benefits, not just the chlorophyll. Still, it's a decent option you might want to consider.
Which Supplement Should You Take?
There are two questions you might have here: which of the supplements is best, and which one should you take? Surprisingly, they might have different answers.
The truth is, they're all fine unless you get the kind of chlorophyll drops that have inedible oils in them. Always make sure you know what's in the supplements you're taking!
So, ask yourself a few questions.
Do you like the green vegetal flavor, or would you prefer to bypass it?
If you like the flavor, a liquid drop or water is fine, and the powder is a very flexible option you can choose to mix into other recipes or smoothies, or just as water. If you don't like the flavor, a flavor-enhanced liquid or a capsule is probably your better option.
Are you concerned about the calories you're eating?
If you're not terribly concerned, getting your chlorophyll from veggies is a great option. It gives you a lot of variety and a lot of different choices in preparation. Additionally, powders can be used in everything from smoothies to bread. You can also use liquids as a supplement for a smoothie.
Conversely, if you're watching the number of calories you eat, you'll want to go with the lightest possible options. These include capsules, the powder when mixed with water, or chlorophyll water specifically.
Do you prefer to have flexibility and control over your supplements?
If so, you should probably go with a powder or with a concentrated chlorophyll liquid. Not coincidentally, these are the two we sell! They're the most flexible and can be used in a wide variety of ways, including in recipes, in smoothies, or simply as beverages or supplements. Heck, you can even buy empty gel caps and fill them with powder to make your own swallowable pills, if you like.
If you don't mind being locked into a specific preparation, any option is fine for you. Just choose the one that seems most appealing!
What really matters is that you get your supplements from somewhere reputable and safe. Additionally, you want to make sure you're not going to have an adverse reaction to it. We recommend buying something small to try before investing in a full bottle or tub of powder. While it's exceedingly rare, some people do experience digestive distress with chlorophyll supplements, so take them in moderation, start slow, and make sure they sit well with you before going all in.