To Your Health
June, 2008 (Vol. 02, Issue 06)
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Take at Closer Look at Chlorella

One of Nature’s Most Complete Foods

By Kazuo Uyama

Chlorella is a tiny, deep-green alga with impressive health properties.

Despite its size - only 2 to 10 microns in diameter, so small it can't be observed without a microscope - chlorella truly is a complete food. It contains 16 vitamins, 14 minerals, chlorophyll, dietary fibers, carotenoids and chlorella growth factor (CGF). Some scientists prefer to simply call it CVE (Chlorella vulgaris extract), since it not only assists in growth, but also modifies the body's biological responses.

Chlorella is approximately 60 percent protein by weight and blessed with many balanced amino acids, including essential ones. The extract is composed of glycoprotein, nucleic acids (RNA/DNA derivatives) and polysaccharides, which have been shown to help regulate immunity.

First discovered in 1890 by a Dutch scientist, M.W. Beijerninck, the etymology of chlorella is chlor, which means green in Greek; and ella, which means tiny in Latin. Chlorella is approximately 3.1 billion years old; in fact, it's estimated that chlorella came into existence at almost the same time the Earth transitioned from molten to solid state.

image - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Chlorella is one of the most researched algae, especially since 1940. In 1911, two-time Nobel Prize winner Dr. Warburg, an authority on cancer research, first chose chlorella for a modernized biological research project after discovering that cancer cells thrive in an oxygen-depleted environment. He wanted to elucidate chlorella's mechanism in the hope he would find clues as to why cancer cells proliferated. Chlorella was found to activate hemoglobin in red blood cells, contributing to healthier oxygen transport.

While chlorella's physiological properties have been researched on an ongoing basis worldwide, during and after the agricultural devastation through the two World Wars, chlorella was envisioned by scientists as an ideal protein source that would sustain life, since it grows incredibly fast in a limited space - as opposed to soybean production, for example, which requires significantly more space.

Environmentally, it's not a far-fetched idea that more chlorella means more oxygen to this warming globe. Plants such as chlorella need to be fed with carbon dioxide in order to generate oxygen. Chlorella's carbon dioxide absorption rate is incredible - far greater than rain forests - which generates more oxygen.

Shiro Fukui, PhD, one of the world's top researchers of chlorella, summarized chlorella's physiological effects into five main pillars and/or functions:

  1. accelerates cellular renewal and rejuvenation;
  2. boosts immunity;
  3. increases metabolic function of protein, lipids, glucose and electrolytes;
  4. detoxifies the body internally and externally; and
  5. transforms the body from acidic to alkaline state.

This is a succinct explanation, yet it illustrates how much chlorella can offer us, particularly in helping alleviate America's most rampant chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes mellitus and cancer. These three chronic diseases combined are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States, accounting for seven out of every 10 deaths.

An increasing number of integrative and preventive practitioners are recommending chlorella to their patients. Incidentally, chlorella has been one of the top five health supplements in Japan for decades. In today's fast-paced lifestyle, shouldn't we keep this powerful deep-green alga in our supplement cabinet?

Kazuo Uyama, a native of Hokkaido, Japan, is a nutritional consultant currently residing in Los Angeles.