Chlorophyll vs. Chlorophyllin

What's the Difference?

Chlorophyll and chlorophyllin are both green pigments found in plants and algae that play a crucial role in photosynthesis. However, there are some key differences between the two. Chlorophyll is the primary pigment responsible for capturing light energy and converting it into chemical energy during photosynthesis. It is found in the chloroplasts of plant cells and gives plants their green color. On the other hand, chlorophyllin is a semi-synthetic derivative of chlorophyll that is often used as a food additive and dietary supplement. It is more stable and soluble in water compared to chlorophyll, making it easier to incorporate into various products. Additionally, chlorophyllin has been shown to have potential health benefits, such as acting as an antioxidant and detoxifying agent.


Chemical FormulaC55H72O5N4MgC34H31O5N4Na
FunctionPhotosynthesisFood coloring, dietary supplement
SolubilityInsoluble in waterSoluble in water
StabilityLess stableMore stable
SourcePlantsSynthetic or derived from plants
UsesPhotosynthesis, pigment in plantsFood and cosmetic coloring, antioxidant

Further Detail


Chlorophyll and chlorophyllin are two closely related compounds that play a crucial role in photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert sunlight into energy. While both compounds share similarities in their chemical structure and function, they also possess distinct attributes that set them apart. In this article, we will explore the various characteristics of chlorophyll and chlorophyllin, highlighting their similarities and differences.

Chemical Structure

Chlorophyll and chlorophyllin are both green pigments found in plants, algae, and some bacteria. They are structurally similar, consisting of a porphyrin ring with a magnesium ion at the center. This porphyrin ring is responsible for their characteristic green color. However, the key difference lies in their side chains. Chlorophyll contains a phytol side chain, while chlorophyllin has a hydrolyzed phytol side chain. This structural variation affects their solubility and bioavailability.


Chlorophyll is primarily found in green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and parsley. It is also abundant in algae and certain fruits. On the other hand, chlorophyllin is a semi-synthetic derivative of chlorophyll and is commonly used as a food additive and dietary supplement. It is produced by replacing the magnesium ion in chlorophyll with copper or sodium, enhancing its stability and solubility.

Health Benefits

Both chlorophyll and chlorophyllin offer numerous health benefits due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They help neutralize harmful free radicals, protect cells from oxidative damage, and support overall cellular health. Additionally, these compounds have been studied for their potential anticancer effects, as they may inhibit the growth of cancer cells and promote apoptosis, or programmed cell death.

Moreover, chlorophyll and chlorophyllin have been found to aid in detoxification by binding to and eliminating toxins, heavy metals, and carcinogens from the body. They may also help reduce bad breath and body odor by neutralizing odorous compounds. Furthermore, these compounds have shown promise in promoting wound healing and reducing inflammation when applied topically.


Chlorophyll and chlorophyllin find various applications in different fields. Chlorophyll is widely used as a natural food colorant, imparting a vibrant green hue to various food and beverage products. It is also utilized in the cosmetic industry for its color-correcting properties and as an ingredient in skincare products. Additionally, chlorophyll-based supplements are popular for their potential health benefits.

On the other hand, chlorophyllin has gained recognition for its potential as a therapeutic agent. It is often used in traditional medicine for its wound-healing properties and as a treatment for various gastrointestinal conditions. Moreover, chlorophyllin has been investigated for its potential in reducing the risk of certain cancers and as an adjuvant therapy in cancer treatment.

Safety and Side Effects

Both chlorophyll and chlorophyllin are generally considered safe for consumption. However, some individuals may experience mild side effects, such as diarrhea, stomach cramps, or green-colored urine or feces, when consuming high doses of chlorophyllin. It is important to note that chlorophyllin derived from natural sources, such as spinach or alfalfa, may contain small amounts of contaminants, including pesticides or heavy metals.

Furthermore, individuals with specific medical conditions, such as porphyria or photosensitivity disorders, should exercise caution when using chlorophyll or chlorophyllin supplements, as they may exacerbate these conditions. As with any dietary supplement, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional before starting any new regimen.


In conclusion, chlorophyll and chlorophyllin are closely related compounds with similar chemical structures and functions. They both contribute to the green coloration of plants and offer various health benefits, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. While chlorophyll is naturally found in green leafy vegetables, algae, and fruits, chlorophyllin is a semi-synthetic derivative used as a food additive and dietary supplement. Both compounds have their unique applications and potential therapeutic uses. However, it is essential to consider safety precautions and consult healthcare professionals before incorporating them into your diet or healthcare routine.

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