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Chlorella is rich in vitamin B12

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Vitamin B12 is a vital nutrient for our cells. In particular, it is an important dietary supplement for anyone who eats little or no meat, such as vegetarians, vegans, and the elderly.

Three grams of Chlorella Echlorial contains the recommended daily amount of vitamin B12.

Note: Not all Chlorella contains vitamin B12, including Chlorella that is cultivated in a fermenter or bioreactor. Chlorella Echlorial is cultivated in glass tubes where it is exposed to natural light, so it does contain this important vitamin.

Chlorella eChlorial is naturally rich in many B vitamins, including B12

Chlorella Echlorial contains at least 1 µg of vitamin B12 per gram of dry Chlorella, or 3 µg per 3 grams of Chlorella. It is also rich in vitamins B1, B2, B6 (0.9-1.1 mg/100g) and B9 (folic acid, 0.18-0.3 mg/100g).

According to the National Academy of Sciences (1998) and the Codex Alimentarius Commission (1998) [1], the recommended daily intake of vitamin B12 for an adult is 2.4 µg per day [2]. Therefore, 3 grams of Chlorella Echlorial contains about 120% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin B12.

The human body does not produce vitamin B12, so it is important that we incorporate a sufficient amount of this nutrient into our daily diet.

Scientific proof of vitamin B12 and its bio-availability in Chlorella

Only bacteria are capable of producing vitamin B12. However, Chlorella is one of the few plants to contain this vitamin. Thanks to a unique cultivation process that occurs under natural light, Chlorella Echlorial contains a significant amount of vitamin B12.

Within a controlled environment and exposed to sunlight, bacteria grow in symbiosis with Chlorella and produce vitamin B12. The Chlorella is then able to absorb the vitamin from the surrounding environment and store it. Through this process, Chlorella becomes rich in vitamin B12 without having to produce the nutrient itself.

Proof from scientific studies

Studies have proven the presence of vitamin B12 in Chlorella tablets whose Chlorella was cultivated under natural light (Hiromi Kittaka-Katsura, 2002) [3].

Watanabe (2002) proved that the efficacy of vitamin B12 in Chlorella is made possible by its bioavailability [4].

In a study conducted by Matsuura, et al. (1991), rats with iron deficiency showed improvement after the administration of microalgae such as Chlorella [5].

Through their two-year study, Rauma, et al. (1995) showed that Chlorella can provide enough vitamin B12 to supplement a vegetarian diet sufficiently [6].

Important: Spirulina does not provide enough vitamin B12 for vegetarians

The cyanobacterium spirulina contains a vitamin B12 analogue, a “pseudo-vitamin B12” that is not active for humans (Watanabe 1999; Watanabe 2007) [7] [8].

Furthermore, it has been shown that spirulina alone is not enough to avoid a vitamin B12 deficiency in a vegetarian diet (Rauma, 1999) [9].

For these reasons, in 2011, Germany passed legislation that forbids manufacturers from presenting spirulina as being rich in vitamin B12, declaring the claim to be misleading and inaccurate.

Information about B vitamins and vitamin B12

B vitamins are absolutely essential to our health. They are involved in hundreds of physiological reactions that ensure the proper functioning of our bodies, including the maintenance and regulation of:
•    The immune system
•    pH balance
•    Hormonal balance
•    Cognitive functioning in the brain

Vitamin B12, or cobalamin, is a hydrosoluble vitamin. It plays a role in the production of red blood cells along with other factors such as iron and the hormone erythropoietin (EPO).

This vitamin is also a cofactor, meaning it facilitates the production of certain enzymes. Enzymes produced with the help of vitamin B12 are particularly important to our health because they assist in the metabolism of nucleic acids. In fact, vitamin B12 acts as a coenzyme in the production of methionine, an amino acid that is essential in reproduction, the survival of cells, and the methylation of proteins and DNA.

Additionally, vitamin B12 ensures the production of neurotransmitters and helps maintain the integrity of the entire nervous system, particularly at the myelin sheath that protects the nerves.

In nature, vitamin B12 is primarily produced by bacteria and some fungi. Herbivores can absorb the vitamin B12 produced by the bacteria in their stomachs. Similarly, since humans cannot produce vitamin B12, we have to take care to include enough of it in our diet.

Dietary sources of vitamin B12 include meat, fish, milk, and eggs. However, this vitamin is only rarely found in vegetables and plants.

Who is most commonly deficient in vitamin B12 ?

Because vitamin B12 is primarily found in meat, certain populations—namely, vegetarians, vegans, and the elderly—may lack a sufficient amount of this vitamin in their diets. In fact, epidemiological studies show that vitamin B12 deficiency affects 5-15% of elderly people (Stabler, 1997) [10] and a large number of vegetarians (Hermann, 2003) [11] [12].

Even beyond these populations, deficiency in vitamin B12 is relatively common. It is estimated that 5-15% of people are deficient in vitamin B12 (Stabler, 2004) [13]. Pregnant women and those suffering from chronic illnesses may not absorb enough of this vitamin, and certain health problems often cause vitamin B12 deficiency, too. These health conditions include:
•    Recovery from a total gastrectomy or a resection of the intestine
•    Pernicious anemia, or Biermer’s anemia*
•    Crohn’s disease**

* Biermer’s anemia is an autoimmune disorder that affects the stomach. A person with Biermer’s anemia cannot absorb vitamin B12 due to the insufficient production of the gastric mucosal glycoprotein that protects the vitamin during digestion. The condition most often affects women ages 40 and above. Eventually, it can develop into stomach cancer. (Sources: Wikipedia, Le magasine Pratique de santé, Hors série n°24)

** Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that can affect one or several sections of the digestive system, typically the colon, parts of the small intestine, and/or the anus. It appears in phases, alternating between a crisis phase (or acute phase) and a remission phase during which there are no clinical signs of the disease. The most common symptoms include abdominal pain that intensifies after meals, chronic diarrhea, fever, and fatigue. Additionally, people suffering from Crohn’s disease often lose weight due to an inability to properly absorb nutrients. (Sources: Wikipedia, Le magasine Pratique de santé, Hors série n°24)

Consequences of vitamin B12 deficiency

Prolonged deficiency in vitamin B12 can be serious. It can lead to neurological complications and the early onset of dementia.

American researchers found evidence that a deficiency in B vitamins in mice can cause cognitive problems and significantly reduce learning abilities. Additionally, this deficiency can lead to reduced density and length of the capillaries in the brain (Vogiatzoglou, et al., 2008) [14].

Another study, published by the University of Oxford (2007) [15], shows that vitamin B12 may prevent reduction in the cerebral volume of elderly people and therefore help prevent dementia.

Most of the damage done by a B12 deficiency is imperceptible until it has done considerable harm, making the deficiency difficult to identify. Due to its complicated symptomatology, doctors do not often diagnose deficiencies in vitamin B12.

For several years, American authorities have been recommending systematic daily supplements of vitamin B12 to all vegetarians and anyone over the age of 50. According to recent studies, the efficacy of synthetic vitamin B12 supplements is debatable, so it is therefore favorable to turn to natural supplements.


[1] Code Alimentarius, programme mixte FAO/OMS sur les normes alimentaires, rapport de la commission du 25 septembre 1998.

[2] A Report of the Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of “Dietary Reference Intakes and its Panel on Folate, Other B Vitamins, and Choline” and Subcommittee on Upper Reference Levels of Nutrients, Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine 1998

[3] HIROMI KITTAKA-KATSURA, Purification and Characterization of a corrinoid compound from Chlorella Tablets as an algal health food. J.Agric.Food Chem.2002, 50, 4994-4997

[4] WATANABE F and co., Characterization and bioavailability of vitamin B12-compounds from edible algae. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2002 Oct; 48(5):325-31.

[5] MATSUURA E., Nemoto, T., Hozumi, H., Izumi, K., Sait, Y., Ispida, H., Fukimbara, T., Kawahara, H.: Effect of chlorella on rats with iron deficient anemia; Kitasato Arch. Exp. Med. 1991, 64(4), 193

[6] RAUMA AL., Torronen, R., Hanninen, O., Mykkanen, H.: Vitamin B12 status of long-term adherents of a strict uncooked vegan diet (« living food diet ») is compromised; J. Nutr. 1995, 125(10), 2511

[7] WATANABE F, KATSURA H. Pseudo-vitamin B12 is the predominant cobalamide of the algal health food, spirulina tablets. J.Agri Food Chem, 1999 Nov; 47(11):4736-41

[8] WATANABE F Vitamin B12 sources and bioavailability, Exp Biol Med (Maywood) 2007 Nov; 232(10):1266-74

[9] RAUMA Anna Lisa (University of Kuoplo Finland) Vitamin B12 status of long-term adherents of a strict uncooked vegan diet (‘living food diet’) is compromised. Journal of nutrition December 3, 2009

[10] STABLER SP et col. 1997. Am J Clin Nut. 66 :741-749

[11] HERRMAN W et col. 2003 Am J Clin Nutr 78 :131-136

[12] Recommendation of the Vegan Society. Founded in 1944 in the UK

[13] STABLER SP and co. Vitamin B12 deficiency as a worldwide problem. Annu.Rev. Nutr. 2004. 24:299-326

[14] American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2007 / University of Oxford. Increase vitamin B12 levels may reduce the rate of age-related cognitive decline and dementia by 30 per cent.

[15] A. Vogiatzoglou, H. Refsum, C. Johnston, S. M. Smith, K. M. Bradley, C. de Jager, M. M. Budge, A. D. Smith « Vitamin B12 status and rate of brain volume loss in community-dwelling elderly » Neurology 9 September 2008, Volume 71, Pages 826-832

Note from the eChlorial team
We would like to stress that the people interviewed or who testify on our blog do so in all sincerity without any conflict of interest.


  • The 22 February 2023 by Novana

    Spirulina isn’t full of vitamin B12, but of pseudo vitamin B12.
    It occupies the place of B12, but it does not function like it.
    Therefore, it would be better not to consume it.


  • The 5 March 2023 by admin_echlorial

    This article talks about B12 contained in chlorella, not spirulina. Indeed, spirulina’s B12 is not bioavailable therefore not suited for someone looking for a sufficient B12 intake.


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