by Melissa Chichester
Chlorophyll is the rich pigment responsible for giving most green plants their color. You probably remember from your first biology class that chlorophyll is involved in photosynthesis, but the positive impact of these green pigments is more beneficial than we might think. Chlorophyll is a revitalizing substance for not only plants but the human body. Some even call the “building block of life,” because without it we would not be able to enjoy the beautifully active plant life blooming around us, not to mention that important thing we like to do called breathing. Now that’s a reason to be green!
In 1817, French pharmacists Joseph Bienaimé Caventou and Pierre Joseph Pelletier (who was also a chemist) successfully isolated chlorophyll from plants. In addition to this discovery, the duo discovered magnesium within the chlorophyll, marking the first time this mineral had ever been found in living tissue. It wasn’t until 1940 that a German Nobel Prize winner, Hans Fischer, explained the full structure of chlorophyll. Since that time, studies on synthesis and structure have continued, and in the 1960s it became a popular supplement.
By eating greens, it is easy to consume a chlorophyll-rich diet. The greener the vegetable or leafy plant, the more chlorophyll it contains! Three of the foods highest in chlorophyll include spinach, alfalfa, and parsley. Other sources of include sea vegetables like kelp and spirulina, romaine lettuce, collard greens, asparagus, wheatgrass, sprouts, and cucumbers. One of the reasons wheatgrass juice became so popular is because it is such a good source of chlorophyll!
Leaves that grow on root vegetables like turnips and parsnips also contain chlorophyll. Nutritionally, chlorophyll is a source of vitamins and minerals, including Vitamins A, C, E, and K, plus magnesium and calcium and other phytonutrients. By consuming a diet rich in green vegetables, it is easy to consume chlorophyll. As a fat-soluble nutrient, it is best absorbed by the body when consumed with fats, similar to how carotenoids are absorbed (yellow and orange plant pigments).
As a supplement, chlorophyll is available as a liquid supplement and in softgel form. Most chlorophyll in supplement form is derived from alfalfa leaves and is known as being an internal “refresher.” is also popular for helping to freshen dull breath and stop odors from garlic, onions, and smoking.