Chlorella is high in protein, dietary fibre, chlorophyll, vitamins and minerals, and as such, is considered a potential food source and dietary supplement.
Researchers from Japan's Ryutsu Keizai University and University of Tsukuba therefore conducted a study to determine the its effects on the maximal oxygen uptake and circulating vitamin B2 levels of male university students.
Not enough nutrients
They assessed 34 subjects' daily food consumption before the intervention began, and observed that their intake of certain vitamins and minerals fell below the recommended nutrient requirements.
These included potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, and vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and C.
Their sodium, protein and fat intake, however, was above the nutrient demand, while their energy intake was below the nutrient demand.
They divided the participants into two groups, one receiving Chlorella-derived multi-component supplementation and the other given a placebo.
After four weeks of Chlorella supplementation, maximal oxygen uptake rose significantly in the Chlorella-supplemented group.
At the same time, the sufficiency rate of iron, vitamins B2, D and K, and niacin in the participants increased by up to 20% after Chlorella supplementation.
Can it B2?
Prior to the intervention, the researchers had noted that the subjects' maximal oxygen uptake was negatively correlated with their serum vitamin B2 concentrations.
According to previous research, lifestyle modifications — such as dietary changes and regular exercise — result in higher vitamin B2 requirements.
This suggests that those with higher aerobic capacity (i.e., higher maximal oxygen uptake) metabolise more vitamin B2, due to greater usage.
They concluded: "We found a significant negative relationship between the VO2max (maximal oxygen uptake) and serum vitamin B2 concentrations before the intervention.
"In addition, we observed that a four-week Chlorella-derived multicomponent supplementation increased the VO2max in male university students with insufficient dietary habits, although there was no association between the increase in the VO2max and circulating levels of vitamin B2."
Source: Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition
"Effect of Chlorella-derived multicomponent supplementation on maximal oxygen uptake and serum vitamin B2concentration in young men"
Authors: Asako Zempo-Miyaki, et al.