Spirulina & Chlorella

By Adrian Oaks / January 15, 2016

Spirulina and chlorella are fresh water algae that are almost invisible to the naked eye. These micro algae are present in fresh water and have been around for at least 2 billion years. They come from a species of beneficial bacteria known as Arthrospira. A single athrospira is the size of 1 white blood cell or around 9 microns in size. Athrospira has been cultivated as far back as the 16th century by the Aztec civilization. The Aztecs would harvest the algae from Lake Texcoco and package it into small cakes known as “tecuilatl”.

Unfortunately, this superfood is vastly under consumed in modern times and this is a shame since these micro algae contain over 1000 minerals and vitamins. In fact, these algae are hypothesized to carry almost all dietary minerals that the human body requires.

Spirulina & Chlorella Benefits

Spirulina and Chlorella’s many benefits include:

Dense (about 40-55%) and easily digestible complete protein content. Complete proteins are higher in essential amino acid content than incomplete proteins. Amino acids are compounds that the body cannot create on its own and therefore must acquire via dietary means. Animal proteins are much harder for the body to break down which causes some nutrients to be lost during the process. The proteins in micro algae are much easier to digest and this results in almost no nutrient loss.

Macro and micro minerals such as: magnesium, zinc, potassium, manganese, iron, calcium, copper, iodine, selenium, phosphorus, and more. The human body needs about 20 elements to sustain itself and these micro algae contain all of them. They also have over 100 trace minerals. Trace minerals are not fully understood yet but they do have a role in the functioning of the human body.

Almost all of the Vitamins needed by the human body. This includes the B vitamins and Vitamin C, E and A. These are naturally occuring vitamins and are completely unprocessed. Spirulina and chlorella are abundant in vitamin B12 as well. They are the only plant based food that contains vitamin B12 in significant amounts. Vitamin B12 is needed by the central nervous system and brain. It is the most structurally complex of all of the vitamins and generally only found in meat and dairy foods.

Omega-3 fatty acids – Chlorella and Spirulina contain both the animal (DHA/EPA) and plant based (ALA) omega3 fatty acids. DHA and EPA provide a much more complete source of poly unsaturated fatty acids and you get the benefit of ALA which has an antioxidant like effect on the body.

Chlorophyll – This is an often over looked nutrient that is mostly found in green plant foods. It is great for detoxifying the body of heavy metals and toxins. This detoxifying effect goes hand in hand with the dense nutrient content found in these micro algae.

Spirulina vs Chlorella

These micro algae are both very similar but there are some key differences. Spirulina contains more protein than chlorella and slightly easier to digest. It contains a nutrient called phycocyanin, which is a portent cancer fighting compound. It is a larger plant, and is requires no processing to make edible. Chlorella contain less protein but a much higher amount of chlorophyll. It has a higher amount of omega3s and a compound called CGF that provides a small benefit to the immune system and connective tissues. Chlorella has a dense cell wall that makes it inedible by humans. Some processing is needed to break this membrane down before it can be ingested. This results in a relative cost increase when compared to spirulina.


Since these are water based supplements, and generally provide a powerful detox, it is important to find a brand with the least containments. For spirulina the best types are typically grown in deep ocean seawater. This is due to the fact that most of the contaminated run off from farms and factories will generally accumulate near major seashores on the surface of the water. This deeper water will be far less contaminated. To our knowledge the best spiurlina is grown in Hawaii by a company called cyanotech . Finding the cleanest chlorella is a little more complex. Generally the most contaminated brands of chlorella originate from china and the least contaminated from Taiwan. Chinese produced chlorella will typically have higher amounts of aluminum (around 29ppm) than the others. With chlorella there is also the issue of digestion. You should ensure your chlorella is “broken cell wall” which means that it has been processed to make it digestible. There are a few companies that sell Taiwan produced broken cell wall chlorella. Check out the table below for a quick reference.

Other Algae

You may also want to take a look at Kelp, another ancient sea alga. Kelp has been around almost as long as Spirulina/Chlorella, and has its own types of trace minerals and vitamins, such as sitosterol, which helps lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease. Kelp has a much higher iodine content as well, which can be beneficial for those with thyroid issues.