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Liquid chlorophyll is a supplement form of the green pigment found in plants. It’s the same pigment that plants use to create energy through the process of photosynthesis. Manufacturers extract it from green vegetables, sea vegetables, algae, and herbs. Chlorophyll is an antioxidant with many potential benefits, with claims of it helping your body detoxify and prevent cancer.
Liquid chlorophyll has gained popularity as a supplement, but you can also find it in its natural form in foods that are plants. To find out more about liquid chlorophyll, we spoke to registered dietitians Whitney Crouch and Kylie Morse.
Meet the Expert
What Is Liquid Chlorophyll?
"Liquid chlorophyll is a green pigment that can be found as ready-made products or homemade purees and extracts. This pigment is the same pigment plants use to create energy for themselves via photosynthesis and is extracted from green vegetables, sea vegetables, algae, and herbs," says Crouch. In supplement form, liquid chlorophyll is made from a chlorophyll derivative called chlorophyllin.
The potential health benefits of chlorophyll are nothing new. The pigment has been studied and used as a supplement for many years. However, recent popularity has drawn more attention and hype to the claims. Here are some of the benefits, according to Crouch and Morse.
- Potent antioxidant: Chlorophyll contains antioxidants that can help fight free radicals, oxidative stress, and aging, and protect against chronic diseases such as cancer.
- Anti-cancer potential: Animal studies show that chlorophyll can bind some cancer-causing toxins and reduce the risk of colon cancer when consumed from whole foods. However, significantly more research is needed to determine if these effects transfer over to humans.
- Natural deodorant: One small study found chlorophyll reduced urinary and fecal odor in people with a metabolic disorder called trimethylaminuria.
- Skin healing: Chlorophyll may promote wound healing and reduce acne lesions when applied topically and used in conjunction with phototherapy.
- Supports adequate micronutrient intake: Chlorophyll provides extra micronutrients and fatty acids that you may not be getting enough of in your diet, such as vitamins A, C, E, and K, magnesium, beta-carotene, and more. While liquid chlorophyll can help augment micronutrient intake, it is not recommended for use as a sole source of these micronutrients.
- Supports liver function: The liver does an amazing job at detoxifying our bodies, but sometimes it can use some support from diet and supplements. Animal studies have shown that liquid chlorophyll supplementation may help support the liver by reducing liver inflammation caused by harmful gut bacteria.
- Increases red blood cell and platelet production: Some studies have shown that chlorophyll supplementation has had a positive effect on red blood cell formation and platelet production. Chlorophyll supplementation is sometimes used in conjunction with iron supplementation to help treat anemia.
More research is needed to back up most of the claims you see on social media. "It is important to note that the research on chlorophyll supplementation is minimal and overall inconclusive. Before starting a new dietary supplement, be sure to consult your care provider. Chlorophyll supplementation is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers," warns Morse.
How to Use Liquid Chlorophyll Supplements
While the packaging on liquid chlorophyll supplements provides basic instructions on how to take them, science has not come to a solid conclusion on how much to take. "Doses of 100-300 mg across three divided doses have been used in studies looking at chlorophyll as a natural deodorant," says Crouch.
You can find liquid chlorophyll supplements at most health food stores and supplement shops or online. Since the substance is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration or other governing bodies, there are no absolute rules when it comes to dosage. You can try adding it to smoothies or other beverages or mixing it into other foods like sauces and dips.
Can Chlorophyll Supplements Replace Leafy Greens?
If you were hoping to add liquid chlorophyll drops to your routine and do away with kale salads, don't be too hasty. "Chlorophyll supplements should not replace bountiful amounts of veggies in your diet, especially leafy greens," says Crouch. Aside from chlorophyll, healthy plant foods contain a myriad of other vital nutritional components that your body needs.
"Just one cup of spinach contains about 25 mg of chlorophyll. Spinach and other leafy greens are a great source of fiber—vitamins A, E, K, C, folate, iron, and calcium," explains Crouch. "Of course, chlorophyll supplements contain a more concentrated amount of chlorophyll than in a portion of leafy greens. For example, there is about 25 mg of chlorophyll in 1 cup of raw spinach, and about 50-100 mg of chlorophyll in only 2 ml of a liquid chlorophyll supplement," adds Morse.
While it's true that liquid chlorophyll can contain added minerals, it's not the same as eating whole foods. "Chlorophyll supplements contain sodium, copper, and magnesium, but not in amounts that would be significantly health-supportive when taking recommended doses," says Crouch.
Bottom line: "While you will be able to get more chlorophyll with supplementation, they are best used in congruence with a diet that contains plenty of leafy greens," says Morse.
While chlorophyll is generally safe, with no toxic effects being reported in over 50 years of clinical use, there are some mild side effects to be aware of. It is wise to speak to your doctor before taking any supplement.
- Liquid chlorophyll may cause your feces or urine to be a bit darker in color, and diarrhea has occurred in some cases.
- When applied to skin wounds, mild burning or itching may occur.
- Since the safety of chlorophyll or chlorophyllin supplements has not been tested in pregnant or lactating women, they should be avoided during pregnancy and lactation.
So, before you run out to buy liquid chlorophyll supplements, take a look at the other ways you can incorporate greens into your diet and the many other benefits you can gain from doing so.
"Don’t believe the hype," says Crouch. "Spend your money on nutrient-dense veggies like spinach, parsley, watercress, green beans, and more to boost not only your chlorophyll intake but your fiber, vitamins, and minerals."