Supplement fads come and go, quite similarly to fad diets. From detoxes to ketone supplements and more recently probiotics and chlorophyll. The search for the “quick fix” or the “missing puzzle piece” is one as old as the desire for instant gratification or the pursuit of weight loss. Even though we know that sustainable changes are the best ones for maintaining weight loss, as a society we continue to search for the most minor things to fix big problems. For this article, we will focus on chlorophyll.
Chlorophyll is naturally found in plants. In fact, it is what gives plants their green color and if we can recall photosynthesis from elementary school, plants use chlorophyll and sunlight to “feed” themselves or produce their needed nutrients. The recent increase in searches for chlorophyll/chlorophyll supplements (according to Google trends there was a surge in these searches in April of this year) is demonstrative of recent interest in this molecule.Let’s take a closer look at what the verdict is on chlorophyll.
Why is it popular a.k.a. Marketed Benefits
Chlorophyll is no miracle molecule, but it is popular for a reason. That (recent) reason is because of marketing and social media. Companies will market their chlorophyll supplements promising to:
- Increase energy
- “Boost” immune system
- Function as a natural deodorant
- Skin health
- Weight loss
The list goes on. Before this article goes any further, please understand that claims like these require evidence, but companies are really good at marketing things. *Do not fall for catchy terms, they’re designed to get your attention*
Potential Benefits of Chlorophyll, According to Science
First and foremost, there is not enough human data to make definitive claims. There is some research on animal models (mice) and there are some studies on humans, but nothing has been convincing. As you read the list below, take it with a “grain of salt” as no hard suggestions should be made from the current body of evidence on chlorophyll.
- May help with weight loss and decreasing cholesterol. A 2014 study by Montelius, et al. showed these potential benefits in women
- This same study showed a decreased desire for hyperpalatable foods (higher fat, sugar, and salt) which may be one mechanism for appetite or craving control and in turn can help decrease caloric intake and help with intentional weight loss
- Chlorophyll may help protect against aflatoxins which are known as a potential threat to humans
In generally healthy people, chlorophyll appears to be safe. Although more studies are needed, people with different diseases should be cautious when taking chlorophyll as there are possible adverse effects in the following populations:
- People taking medication to lower blood sugar
- Individuals with cardiovascular issues
- Someone with gastrointestinal or liver issues
- Pregnant or lactating women & children secondary to lack of information
- Anyone who is allergic
Chlorophyll appears to be safe for generally healthy people. Remember that marketing is designed to get our attention, not give us medical or dietary advice. As shown above, not everyone should include chlorophyll as part of their daily supplement regimen, but it should not pose a threat/risk(s) to a healthy person. My 2 cents: You likely don’t need to take chlorophyll, you may want to observe overall lifestyle and see where changes can be made. If someone is debating whether to take it or not, they should consult with their physician and registered dietitian.
- Banting, W. (1993). Letter on Corpulence, Addressed to the Public. Obesity Research, 1(2), 153–163. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.1550-8528.1993.tb00605.x
- Spreckley, M., Seidell, J., & Halberstadt, J. (2021). Perspectives into the experience of successful, substantial long-term weight-loss maintenance: a systematic review. International journal of qualitative studies on health and well-being, 16(1), 1862481. https://doi.org/10.1080/17482631.2020.1862481
- Ulbricht, C., Bramwell, R., Catapang, M., Giese, N., Isaac, R., Le, T. D., ... & Zeolla, M. M. (2014). An evidence-based systematic review of chlorophyll by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration. Journal of dietary supplements, 11(2), 198-239
- Montelius, C., Erlandsson, D., Vitija, E., Stenblom, E.-L., Egecioglu, E., & Erlanson-Albertsson, C. (2014). Body weight loss, reduced urge for palatable food and increased release of GLP-1 through daily supplementation with green-plant membranes for three months in overweight women. Appetite, 81, 295–304. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2014.06.101