Ginny Bank began her career as a natural products chemist with Hauser Inc., a research and development company which focused on natural product extracts and purified plant compounds. She has researched and developed plant-based functional ingredients for nutritional supplement applications for over 15 years.
Ms. Bank is currently a Scientific Adviser for RFI LLC and President and Founder of Full Spectrum Consulting, a natural products consulting firm specializing in research, product development, quality management and technical marketing for the nutraceutical and food.
In this interview, she discusses the characteristics of chlorella and its phenomenal potential to improve your health in a number of different ways.
Chlorella, single-celled fresh water algae, is often referred to as a near-perfect food, as its range of health benefits is truly astounding. In this interview, Ginny Bank expounds on this phenomenal nutrient.
Chlorella is perhaps most well known for its ability to detox your body by binding to toxins, such as mercury and carrying them out of your system.
But that’s not all this green algae is good for.
According to Ginny, chlorella can also be of great benefit to vegetarians and vegans who want proteins and B vitamins from a non-animal source. Chlorella is about 60 percent protein, and is considered to be a “complete protein” source because it contains all the essential amino acids your body needs.
Other health benefits include:
- Repairing nerve tissues
- Enhancing your immune system and reducing your cancer risk
- Improving digestion
- Promoting healthy pH levels in your gut, which in turn helps good bacteria to thrive
- Enhancing your ability to focus and concentrate
- Increasing your energy levels
- Normalizing your blood sugar and blood pressure
Chlorella vs Spirulina
Spirulina is another algae that is frequently confused with chlorella. While it has many of the same characteristics, there are some nutritional differences between the two.
One major difference is that spirulina does not have the ability to draw out heavy metal toxins like chlorella does. It has, however, been used to treat arsenic poisoning.
Nutritionally speaking, spirulina is another good source of complete protein. In fact, at 65-70 protein, it beats chlorella in terms of protein content. It also has higher amounts of B12, essential fatty acids, and the antioxidant superoxide dismutase.
Chlorella, on the other hand, contains higher levels of chlorophyll, nucleotides RNA and DNA, and beta carotene.
Ideally, it makes sense to take both, as one is not nutritionally superior than the other. Rather it’s the combination of both that can truly turn them into a nutritional powerhouse.
Chlorella is a Potent Detox Agent
Heavy metal toxicity, just like chemical toxicity, has become one of the most pressing health hazards of our day. Your body is assailed by chemicals and heavy metals on a daily basis, oftentimes from the most innocent-looking sources, from your everyday cookware to your dental fillings and the occasional seafood dinner.
This is one area where chlorella can be of tremendous assistance as it’s a very potent detoxing agent for heavy metals. According to Ginny, it may even attract and expel certain pesticides.
Chlorella plays a particularly crucial role in systemic mercury elimination, because the majority of mercury is rid through your stool. Once the mercury burden is lowered from your intestines, mercury from other body tissues will more readily migrate into your intestines -- where chlorella will work to remove it.
Cilantro can also be used as a synergetic detoxification aid along with the chlorella and is particularly useful to take when you are consuming seafood, as most are invariably contaminated with heavy metals and chemicals for which the chlorella is well suited to help remove. Ideally you would need to take it with the meal so it binds directly to the toxins while they are in your gut, before they absorbed into your body.
The Crucial Detail that Determines Chlorella’s Effectiveness
The key to chlorella’s detoxing abilities lies within the membrane of this single cell, but the cell wall of chlorella is actually indigestible to humans. This is why most chlorella products use the term “broken cell wall,” to describe the fact that the chlorella has been rendered digestible.
If a product does not specifically tell you that the cell wall has been broken, you are likely flushing your money down the toilet as the chlorella will simply pass right through you without doing you any good.
There are a number of proprietary methods to break the cell wall, but the key comparison you need to pay attention to is the nutritional profile of the end product.
How to Determine the Quality of a Chlorella Product
Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that a product will contain the exact level of nutrients listed on the label, so you’ll want to make sure you’re buying from a reputable company. It may come as a surprise, but according to the legal requirements, a natural product may contain plus or minus 20 percent of the stated level of any nutritional component.
Reputable companies, however, will adhere to certain processes that increase your chances of getting the levels of nutrients stated.
Please understand that there are only a few producers of chlorella in the world who provide the raw material to manufacturers, who then process and package the chlorella.
Manufacturers who are known for quality will make sure they receive a certificate of analysis from the producer of the raw material, and will get batches evaluated by an independent third party on a regular basis to ensure consistency.
Recent changes to the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) guidelines and the labeling requirements also make it easier for consumers to investigate company claims as companies are now required to list their phone number and website on every label.
Under these standards a company must also maintain a paper trail showing where the material came from and any testing that has been done.
When calling the company directly, some of the questions you may want to ask would include:
- How often do you test batches for nutritional consistency?
- Ask for a specification sheet ('spec sheet'), or the Certificate of Analysis, known as the 'C of A'. These are documents that itemize every single test that the final product gets tested for.
- How and where is the chlorella grown? Variations in climate and season can cause nutritional variations, but if the chlorella is grown in artificial ponds the producer has greater control over consistency. You’ll also want to make sure the chlorella is grown in unpolluted areas, since chlorella binds to heavy metals.
- Does the producer test for heavy metal contamination? A high quality producer will perform regular heavy metal analysis’, for which there should also be a verifiable paper trail. And organic producers must adhere to even more stringent rules in order to become certified organic, which is another sign of a clean, high quality product.
How to Use Chlorella for Heavy Metal Detox
In order to optimize heavy metal detox, you’ll want to take it every day.
“It’s not something that you just take occasionally like some herbs or some supplements,” Ginny says. “Chlorella is something you want to be taking every day.
… You need to be getting at least 4 grams each day of chlorella to get the benefits that it provides.”
Ginny recommends taking it once a day, preferably in the morning. Many chlorella products are sold in small tablets, typically 500 mg each, which means you’d need to take eight tablets a day.
Some people may experience slight nausea initially. This is likely because you’re pulling toxins out of your system. Mild diarrhea may also occur. If these symptoms are too bothersome, you may want to lower your dose initially, and increase it slowly. Taking it with food may also alleviate the nausea.
For More Information
If you are interested in a source of chlorella, we carry a very high quality brand in our store.
These are some of the tools you can use to make sure you're getting a high quality product that will provide you with all of the wonderful health benefits of chlorella.
In addition, I urge you to listen to the entire interview, or read through the transcript, to learn about the differences between the organic certification and another commonly used sign of quality – the Fair Trade Certified Seal.