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
Think all the way back to biology class (don't worry, there's no test!), do you remember what role the nucleus plays in the cell? Don't worry, we promise to make this lesson short and sweet: the nucleus is the most important, most central part of any cell. It's essentially the heart or the brain of the cell, making sure everything happens as it's supposed to. When it comes to chlorella vs spirulina, the little green algae chlorella contains a true nucleus, while the blue-green algae spirulina does not- and this is a major difference when it comes to promoting your cellular health.
A very important component called Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF) is found within chlorella's nucleus and contains nucleic acids. These nucleic acids, RNA and DNA, support cellular health.
Nucleic acids help promote cellular health, and they also increase energy production (which takes place in your cells) and support immune health. CGF can 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.
Chlorella also touts higher levels of nucleic acids, which are an essential nutrient for your body. Supporting cell health, this nutrient can be produced by the body or absorbed from your diet.
The Bottom Line: By having a true nucleus, chlorella is richer in nucleic acids than spirulina, and these 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. It's important for your body to be able to absorb the nutrient so it can receive the full nutrient benefits. Since Active B12 is mostly found in animal products, those on a plant-based diet need to ensure their source of B12 is serving their body correctly. Taking an all-purpose vitamin is not actually giving you everything you need.
In fact, inactive B12 (the form of B12 found in some 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 primarily found in animal products with high protein - 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 and provide the needed nutrients.
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, and the inactive B12 is poorly absorbed.
Chlorella is a Better Source of Chlorophyll
Chlorella is a superior source of 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 healthy 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. Sun 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 gut health.
What to Look For in a High Quality Chlorella Supplement
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 high levels of contaminants. All Sun Chlorella® supplements are regularly third-party tested for heavy metals and other contaminants.
Even with equal third-party testing, not all chlorella supplements are created equal.
A Pulverized Cell Wall Chlorella is far superior than a Cracked or Broken Cell Wall Chlorella
Chlorella has a thick outer shell that we have difficulty digesting, but this is what houses all of its beneficial nutrients. Therefore, chlorella should undergo processing to fully access the nutrients, 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 and benefits.
Pulverization breaks down much of chlorella's cell wall, 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 to have a "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 high heat and chemicals, which can 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
Different from chlorella, 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 if it is not easily found on their products or site.
Much more research has been done on the intake and benefits of chlorella, both in depth and breadth, making chlorella a reliable supplement to turn to.
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 a great 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 nutritional supplement. Spirulina still offers some nutrition as a health supplement—as long as it's grown in safe conditions and tested for contaminants, but we think you know what to do.
Give your body the best possible superfood with Sun Chlorella.