Chlorella is Far Better Than Spirulina and Here's Why
Chlorella and spirulina are two different types of algae superfoods. And while chlorella and spirulina are similar enough to be "cousins," they each have properties that make their nutrient profiles unique.
By Brandi Black, RHN
Updated June 6, 2019
Chlorella Contains a True Nucleus
It may sound like you've time traveled back to biology class, but I promise to make this short and sweet: chlorella contains a true nucleus, while spirulina does not- and this is a major difference when it comes to promoting your cellular health.
A very important nutrient called Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF) is found within chlorella's nucleus. And Chlorella Growth Factor contains nucleic acids, RNA and DNA, which support cellular health.
CGF allows chlorella to rapidly grow and multiply by a factor of 4 every 20-24 hours. This remarkable property of Chlorella Growth Factor translates to our cells when we ingest chlorella, thereby promoting cellular repair and regeneration.
Since nucleic acids help promote cellular health, they also increase energy production (which takes place in your cells) and support immune health. CGF can also promote healthy aging, because the healthier your cells are, the healthier your body feels from the inside out.
As you can guess from the name, Chlorella Growth Factor is entirely unique to chlorella and cannot be found in any other food on the planet.
The Bottom Line: By having a true nucleus, chlorella is richer in nucleic acids than spirulina, which support your body's cellular health.
Chlorella is One of the Only Plant Source of Active B12 (a Rare Find for Vegans)
For vegans, vegetarians, and anyone who follows a primarily plant based diet, this is especially important for you to know: chlorella contains active B12, a good absorbable form of B12, while spirulina contains inactive B12, a poorly absorbed form.
In fact, inactive B12 (the form of B12 found in most plant foods) has been shown to not only be poorly absorbed, but prevent your body from using active B12 from other food sources. This means consuming too many foods that contain inactive B12 may lead to B12 deficiencies, even if you have food sources of active B12, such as chicken or beef, in your diet.
Active B12 is mostly found in animal products- however, chlorella has been proven to be one of the rare plant sources to contain active B12, which makes it an excellent food for vegans and vegetarians to prevent B12 deficiency.
In fact, this study showed that 9g of chlorella taken each day over the course of 60 days was enough to support normal MMA and homocysteine blood serum levels, which are markers of B12 deficiency.
The Bottom Line: Chlorella is one of the rare plant sources to contain active B12, a form which can be easily absorbed by the body. Spirulina does NOT contain active B12. Inactive B12 is poorly absorbed.
Chlorella is Better Source of Chlorophyll
Chlorella is a superior source of the antioxidant chlorophyll, compared to spirulina.
Chlorella's deep green hue is a sign that it's rich in chlorophyll, which gives all green plant foods their green color. In fact, chlorella is one of the best sources of chlorophyll, compared to any other plant food. The darker green a plant food is, the more chlorophyll it contains. Chlorella contains 63 mg of chlorophyll per 3 grams, while spirulina contains only 33 mg per 3 grams.
The Bottom Line: Chlorella is one of the best sources of chlorophyll on the planet. Chlorella helps support your body’s natural detoxification process. Chlorophyll may also help support hormone balance and gut health.
What to Look For in a High Quality Chlorella Supplement
Because chlorella has more specific growing conditions than spirulina, there's less of a risk for agricultural and bacterial contamination.
To be on the safe side, always make sure your chlorella supplement is third-party tested which ensures quality control and product safety, and that it's free from dangerous levels of contaminants. All Sun Chlorella® supplements are regularly third-party tested for heavy metals and other contaminants.
Not all chlorella supplements are created equal.
A Pulverized Cell Wall Chlorella is far superior than a Cracked or Broken Cell Wall Chlorella
As we covered, chlorella has a thick outer shell that we have difficulty digesting, which houses all of its beneficial nutrients. Therefore, chlorella should undergo processing to access the cell nucleus, thereby producing a digestible nutritional supplement.
How the chlorella cell wall is processed is another key difference many people miss when it comes to whether or not a chlorella supplement is high quality. The processing method will determine how much your body can actually digest and absorb chlorella's powerful nutrition.
Pulverization breaks down much of chlorella's cell wall entirely, dramatically improving the bioavailability of the nutrients ( to be no less than 80% available).
Think of it this way…
Imagine the chlorella cell wall is the shell of a walnut.
Your body can't digest the walnut shell, but if you crack or break the shell into pieces, you can access a few (but not all) of the nutrients inside. But if you pulverize a walnut shell, all of the walnut pieces become available for you to digest. This is exactly how pulverization works with chlorella's "shell" too.
It's not enough have "cracked cell" or "broken cell" chlorella- instead, using a pulverization method to break down chlorella's cell wall ensures you're getting the most nutrition possible from your chlorella supplement.
The Bottom Line: If you're going to take a chlorella supplement: pulverization is the best way to fully access the nutrients chlorella has to offer. Other processing methods aren't complete, and may leave you with "expensive urine," instead of proper absorption.
Where to Find Chlorella With a Pulverized Cell Wall
Sun Chlorella® supplements are the only chlorella that is pulverized using a unique method called DYNO®-Mill technology, which maximizes the digestibility of chlorella's nutrition. Unlike other common chlorella processing methods, it preserves chlorella's delicate nutrients by avoiding artificial light, high heat and chemicals, which can contaminate and damage chlorella nutrients.
You can choose from three varieties of pulverized cell wall chlorella: Sun Chlorella tablets, Sun Chlorella granules and Sun Chlorella powder, which can be purchased here .
Cautions With Taking Spirulina
Spirulina is known to absorb everything in its environment. Since it can be grown in a variety of different environments (from freshwater to marshlands and salt lakes), spirulina is more prone to heavy metal toxicity, pesticide and bacterial contamination than chlorella. In fact, spirulina supplements can even become contaminated with bacteria such as salmonella.
1. Ensure it's Third-Party Tested
All supplement companies, including spirulina and chlorella supplements, should have information about testing available to the public. You can contact the company and request this information.
2. Purchase Certified Organic Spirulina
Certified organic spirulina will ensure it hasn't been sprayed or come in contact with unsafe levels of pesticides.
3. Avoid Spirulina Grown in Lakes
Spirulina grown in lakes is more susceptible to becoming contaminated with heavy metals, bacteria and environmental pollutants because the growing conditions cannot be entirely controlled. Instead, choose spirulina that's been grown in controlled freshwater pools surrounded by clean air.
In summary, Sun Chlorella is always the best choice when it comes to receiving the most nutritional value for your dollar. In fact, the nucleic acids, unbeatable chlorophyll content and highly absorbable active B12 found in chlorella make it a superior "all-in-one" to most nutritional supplements combined. Spirulina still offers some nutrition as a health supplement—as long as it's grown in safe conditions and tested for contaminants.
Author: Brandi Black, RHN
Brandi Black is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist from Vancouver, B.C. Experiencing her own health challenges at a young age led her to become passionate about educating on the healing properties of food, and how to achieve hormone balance, clear skin and sustainable weight loss naturally. In her spare time you'll find Brandi writing in her blog and hanging out with her teacup chihuahua, Coconut.