Chlorophyll and Chlorophyllin


Chlorophyll is the pigment that gives plants and algae their green color. Plants use chlorophyll to trap light needed for photosynthesis (1). The basic structure of chlorophyll is a porphyrin ring similar to that of heme in hemoglobin, although the central atom in chlorophyll is magnesium instead of iron. The long hydrocarbon (phytol) tail attached to the porphyrin ring makes chlorophyll fat-soluble and insoluble in water. Two different types of chlorophyll (chlorophyll a and chlorophyll b) are found in plants (structures of natural chlorophylls). The small difference in one of the side chains allows each type of chlorophyll to absorb light at slightly different wavelengths. Chlorophyllin is a semi-synthetic mixture of sodium copper salts derived from chlorophyll (2, 3). During the synthesis of chlorophyllin, the magnesium atom at the center of the ring is replaced with copper and the phytol tail is lost. Unlike natural chlorophyll, chlorophyllin is water-soluble. Although the content of different chlorophyllin mixtures may vary, two compounds commonly found in commercial chlorophyllin mixtures are trisodium copper chlorin e6 and disodium copper chlorin e4 (structures of two commercial chlorophyllins).


* Chlorophyll a and chlorophyll b are natural, fat-soluble chlorophylls found in plants.

* Chlorophyllin is a semi-synthetic mixture of water-soluble sodium copper salts derived from chlorophyll.

* Chlorophyllin has been used orally as an internal deodorant and topically in the treatment of slow-healing wounds for more than 50 years without any serious side effects.

* Chlorophylls and chlorophyllin form tight molecular complexes with some chemicals known or suspected to cause cancer, and in doing so, may block their carcinogenic effects. No carefully controlled studies have been undertaken to determine whether a similar mechanism might limit uptake of required nutrients or minerals.

* Supplementation with chlorophyllin before meals substantially decreased a urinary biomarker of aflatoxin-induced DNA damage in a Chinese population at high risk of liver cancer due to unavoidable dietary aflatoxin exposure.

* Scientists are hopeful that chlorophyllin supplementation will be helpful in decreasing the risk of liver cancer in high-risk populations with unavoidable dietary aflatoxin exposure. However, it is not yet known whether chlorophyllin or natural chlorophylls will be useful in the prevention of cancers in people who are not exposed to significant levels of dietary aflatoxin.

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