Benefits of Chlorophyll as a Dietary Supplement

By Karen Curinga

Chlorophyll is the pigment that gives green plants their color. This powerful pigment traps sunlight to chemically create food for plants from carbon dioxide and water. It has been used as a dietary supplement since the 1960s. When you consume chlorophyll from fresh foods, powder or capsules, you supplement your diet with power-packed health benefits.

Antioxidant Power

Chlorophyllin, a derivative of chlorophyll, can neutralize several potentially damaging oxygen-containing chemicals. Chlorophyllin supplementation works by reducing oxidative damage created by radiation and chemical carcinogens, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. In addition, an article published in "Free Radical Research" in April 2008 noted that a study investigating chlorophyllin's ability to produce antioxidant enzymes and provide protection against oxidative damage revealed that chlorophyllin does have an antioxidant effect and may show promise as a preventative treatment without adverse effects.

Supports Blood Health

A single drop of blood contains millions of red blood cells. These cells get their color from a protein chemical known as hemoglobin. As blood moves through your body, oxygen molecules attach themselves to hemoglobin, which releases oxygen to the cell and carries carbon dioxide and waste materials away. The structure of the chlorophyll molecule is similar to that of hemoglobin found in your red blood cells. According to The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, chlorophyll stimulates hemoglobin's performance.

Supports Cancer Prevention

For cancer to develop, certain body chemicals must go through a process that makes them capable of attacking DNA or other molecules. Chlorophyll, along with its derivative chlorophyllin, is linked to the possible prevention and blocking of certain types of cancer. An article published in "Carcinogenesis" in June 2007 noted that a study of chlorophyll's ability to prevent cancer, performed on rats, revealed that both chlorophyll and chlorophyllin provide powerful preventative protection against liver and colon cancer.

Side Effects and Considerations

Chlorophyll, taken orally, can cause black or yellow discoloration of the tongue, greenish urine or feces and possible diarrhea. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should check with their doctor before using chlorophyll supplements. On the other hand, according to Columbia University, no major chlorophyll or chlorophyllin toxicity has been discovered in more than 50 years.

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