TikTok’s latest wellness trend is all about drinking ‘chlorophyll water’. But are there any benefits to the supplement?
Another week, another TikTok trend. From weighted hula hoop workouts to protein coffee, the video app has become a rival to Instagram when it comes to fitness inspiration. However, as with many health trends, some are definitely not worth the hype (see: celery juice and 15-minute skin cleansing).
So when we heard that the latest health hack going viral was chlorophyll water, we weren’t particularly surprised. It turns out that #chlorophyll has 184 million views on the app as people search for different supplements to support their wellness.
The real question is what does it actually do, and is it good for you?
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What is chlorophyll?
Is the word ringing a bell for you? Let us refresh your memory of GCSE science, if we may. Chlorophyll is found in plants – more specifically, it’s the green pigment found in the chloroplast.
“Chlorophyll is the stuff that helps absorb sunlight during a process called photosynthesis. This helps with generating energy for the plant to grow and survive,” says Kaitlin Colucci from The Mission Dietician. “It will be found naturally in your diet in your dark green leafy veggies such as spinach, kale, even things like wheatgrass – they are all really rich sources of chlorophyll.”
In the TikTok videos, most people are seen taking it as an over the counter supplement in a liquid form dropped into large glasses of water.
What are the benefits of chlorophyll?
“People take it because of the reported health benefits, particularly it being a source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and claims that it can help with specific issues such as immunity, digestion, preventing illness and acne,” says Dr Folusha Oluwajana.
However, most studies into the benefits of chlorophyll are done in animals or have very small sample sizes. “There are weak links between these health improvements and chlorophyll but only in very small research studies and there’s no real, confirmed evidence of these benefits in humans,” Dr Oluwajana adds.
Is chlorophyll water good for you?
“Chlorophyll is a fat-soluble molecule, so to take it as a supplement it has to be turned into chlorophyllin,” explains Kaitlin. While this is to help with absorption of the supplement, studies suggest that extracted chlorophyllin isn’t as effective as natural chlorophyll. A 2005 paper published in The Journal of Nutrition found that chlorophyll, but not the chlorophyllins, prevented cell damage in rats.
“In green leafy vegetables there’s more than chlorophyll that can have an impact. When we look at plant-based foods, they provide dietary fibre, vitamins, minerals and other health benefits which are more likely to have a bigger impact on health than the chlorophyll itself,” adds Kaitlin.
Dr Oluwajana agrees that “the additional vitamins, minerals and fibre you get from eating plants are the most important part, and you probably won’t get that from a chlorophyll supplement.”
However, everyone has different experiences with supplements, and if you have found it is useful for you then go ahead. “If for some reason you felt you wanted to take it, it’s very unlikely to be harmful, apart from potential side effects of diarrhoea or green poo,” says Dr Oluwajana. “If that’s what you decided to spend your money on, it’s probably not damaging your body – maybe just your pocket.”
“The most important thing you can do is eat a variety of fruits and vegetables that are lots of different colours because there’s not just one specific nutrient that’s going to improve your health,” adds Kaitlin.
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Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).