This green food supplement is said to increase the oxygen content of your blood. But is there any science to support the claim? Nutrition Diva weighs in on this popular dietary supplement.
Q. One of my students asked if she should take chlorophyll supplements to oxygenate her blood and help with her tiredness. Seems there is a nutritionist in England who raves about these benefits. I'm all for eating plants, but I'm suspicious of these claims and was wondering if you have any information on this topic.
A. I'm with you! In the absence of some solid evidence from the raving nutritionist in question, I am extremely skeptical of this claim.
Chlorophyll is a green pigment found in plants and algae. It's involved in photosynthesis - the process by which plants capture energy from sunlight. The chlorophyll molecule has some structural similarities to the "heme" molecule that transports iron (and oxygen) in our blood. Some people even describe chlorophyll as the "blood of plants." And perhaps that's why many believe that taking chlorophyll will increase oxygen content in the blood. Although it's a colorful description, chlorophyll does not actually "strengthen" the blood or improve its oxygen-carrying capacity.
The best way I know to increase the oxygen content of blood is to do take several slow, deep breaths. It's fast and it's free. Try it right now, I guarantee you'll feel the difference.
As for tiredness, whenever people ask me about supplements or foods that will help with fatigue, my first question is whether they're getting enough sleep. Nine times out of ten, it turns out that they are chronically under-rested. They may be reserving too few hours for sleep or they may be going to bed over-stimulated (by caffeine, sugar, stress, or too much time in front of a screen) and have a hard time falling asleep. Good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle will definitely help you feel and function your best. But there is no food or supplement that can take the place of regular, restorative sleep.
Iron-deficiency anemia can also cause fatige, and is a common complaint - especially in young women. You might want to suggest that she stop by the student health center for a screening. If low iron is part of the problem, an iron supplement and/or iron rich foods will help. (Chlorophyll, on the other hand, won't.)
Chlorophyll image courtesy of Shutterstock