Chlorella vs. Spirulina: Why Chlorella is Far Better Than Spirulina
Chlorella and spirulina are two different types of algae superfoods. And while chlorella (green algae) and spirulina (blue-green algae) are similar enough to qualify as "cousins," they each have properties that make their nutritional profiles unique.
Chlorella is a Rare Plant Source of Active B12
Here’s some essential news for vegans, vegetarians, and anyone who follows a plant-based diet: chlorella contains active B12, a highly absorbable form, whereas spirulina contains a poorly absorbed, inactive B12 also known as pseudovitamin B12.
Inactive B12 (the B12 form found in most plant foods) isn’t only poorly absorbed but also prevents your body from using active B12 from other food sources. This means eating too much food containing inactive B12 may result in B12 deficiency, even if you eat foods rich in active B12, such as chicken or beef.
Active B12 is mostly found in animal products, so it's a rare treat to get vitamin b12 in chlorella. It’s one of the few plant foods high in active B12, making it an excellent food for everyone, especially vegans and vegetarians.
In fact, this study discovered that taking 9g of chlorella every day for 60 days was enough to significantly lower MMA and homocysteine blood serum levels, both of which are markers of B12 deficiency.
The Bottom Line: The primary difference between spirulina vs chlorella is their B12 content. Chlorella is one of the rare plant sources to contain active B12, while spirulina contains the inactive form. Inactive B12 is poorly absorbed and may prevent your body from absorbing active B12 in other foods.
Chlorella Contains a True Nucleus
Chlorella contains a true nucleus, while spirulina doesn’t This makes a major difference between chlorella and spirulina when it comes to promoting your 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 highly absorbable form of B12, while spirulina contains inactive B12, a poorly absorbed form.
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 foods to contain active B12, which makes it an excellent food for all especially vegans and vegetarians.
In fact, this study showed that 9g of chlorella taken each day over the course of 60 days was enough to significantly reduce 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 and may prevent the body from absorbing active B12 in other foods.
Chlorella is Higher in Chlorophyll
Between chlorella vs. spirulina, 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, a compound that gives all plant foods their green color. The darker green a plant food is, the more chlorophyll it contains.
Chlorella is one of the richest known sources of chlorophyll, compared to any other plant food. It contains 63 mg of chlorophyll per 3 grams, while spirulina contains only 33 mg per 3 grams.
The Bottom Line: One of the most prominent benefits of chlorella is its high chlorophyll content. Chlorella can safely support your body's natural purification process, support your body's normal inflammatory response, and overall health.
Chlorella is Higher in Omega-3's
Another difference between spirulina vs. chlorella is that chlorella has higher omega-3 essential fatty acids. Though it is important to make clear that both only have minuscule amounts of omega 3.
Omega-3 can act as a natural anti-inflammatory. Meanwhile, omega-6's can cause inflammation in the body when they're consumed in excess- in the form of linoleic acids.
Linoleic acids are found in vegetable oils such as canola, soybean, safflower and sunflower oil (this is why deep fried foods, processed and packaged foods and fast foods cooked with vegetable oils are all considered proinflammatory foods).
Another type of omega-6 fatty acid found in spirulina is known as gamma linoleic acid or GLA. GLA acts as a natural anti-inflammatory. But we already consume plenty of omega-6 fatty acids in our diets. Therefore, consuming foods that have a higher omega-3 ratio is more highly recommended. This helps counteract the proinflammatory properties of linoleic acids and high oleic vegetable oils.
There may not be enough omega- 3 in chlorella. But factoring in the properties of chlorophyll, chlorella is a nutritional powerhouse to support your body's natural inflammatory response.
The Bottom Line: Chlorella is richer in helping to maintain healthy blood pressure already within normal range, heart health, and the body's natural inflammatory response.
What to Look For in a High Quality Chlorella Supplement
Ensure Your Chlorella Supplement is Third-Party Tested
Chlorella can absorb heavy metals and toxins if they're present in the water it's grown in. However, because chlorella has more specific growing conditions than spirulina, there's less of a risk for agricultural and bacterial contamination.
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® dietary supplements are regularly third-party tested for heavy metals and other contaminants.
The answer to the question “which is better–spirulina or chlorella?” is now fairly obvious. But, not all chlorella supplements are created equal.
A Pulverized Cell Wall Chlorella Outperforms Cracked or Broken Cell Wall Chlorella
Chlorella has a thick, indigestible outer shell, which houses all of its beneficial nutrients. Therefore, chlorella must undergo processing to access the cell nucleus, thereby producing a digestible nutritional supplement.
How the cell wall is processed is another key factor to consider. Many people miss it when checking for chlorella supplements’ quality. The processing method determines whether your body can digest and absorb chlorella's vitamin, and minerals.
Pulverization breaks down chlorella's cell wall entirely, dramatically improving the bioavailability of the nutrients.
Think of it this way:…
Imagine the chlorella cell wall is as hard as 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. However, by pulverizing a walnut shell, all of the walnut pieces become available for you to eat. This is exactly how pulverization works with chlorella's "shell" too.
It's not enough to 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: When taking a chlorella supplement, a pulverized cell wall chlorella 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 Pulverized Cell Wall Chlorella Supplement
Sun Chlorella® supplements are the only pulverized chlorella using a unique method called DYNO®-Mill technology. This process is known for maximizing 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 two varieties of pulverized cell wall chlorella: Sun Chlorella tablets and Sun Chlorella powder, which can be purchased here.
Safety Cautions When Taking Spirulina
Having answered “Is Spirulina better than Chlorella?,” let’s talk about what you should know should you still decide to take the former.
The danger of spirulina is that it can absorb everything in its environment. Spirulina can be grown in a variety of different environments (from freshwater to marshlands and salt lakes).
These environments can render the spirulina 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, particularly those selling spirulina and chlorella supplements, should make their testing information available to the public. You should be able to contact the company and request this information.
2. Purchase Certified Organic Spirulina
Certified organic spirulina 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 can’t be entirely controlled. Choose spirulina that's been grown in controlled freshwater pools surrounded by clean air.
Chlorella vs. spirulina in a nutshell
Sun Chlorella chlorella is the safest and most trustworthy choice for getting the most nutritional value for your dollar. 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 supplements still offer some nutrition as a health supplement—as long as it's grown in safe conditions and free of contaminants.
It’s always important to check in with a licensed healthcare practitioner before adding a nutritional supplement to your diet.