Chlorella supplementation may relieve constipation for pregnant women

By Olivia DeSmit

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images / 	Saito Fam
Getty Images / Saito Fam

Related tags Algae chlorella

In addition to a host of other symptoms, pregnant women often suffer from constipation. A new study shows supplementation with the algae Chlorella pyrenoidosa can help, among other benefits.

The study, published in Food Science and Nutrition,​ explored the effects of supplementing with C. pyrenoidosa​ tablets supplied by Sun Chlorella Corp. in pregnant women with low-grade inflammation, measured via C-reactive protein levels. The chlorella group showed a lower rate of constipation and therefore a lower rate of unnecessary laxative administration.

In addition to this positive effect, the team of Japanese researchers from the Yoko Clinic, Yui Clinic and Sun Chorella Corp suggested that the supplement might have other benefits as well. “Chlorella is rich in micronutrients, such as folate, vitamin B12 and fiber, which might also benefit fetal growth,” they wrote.

Chlorella was one of the first algae to be cultivated for food supplementation and has been industrially produced since shortly after the Second World War. It is a unicellular green alga that can help modulate gut microbiota. A widely commercially available supplement, it is often chosen for its fiber content and nutrients. C. pyrenoidosa​ polysaccharides can influence immune function for pregnant women as well as immune imprinting on the offspring. Prior studies have reported chlorella to reduce inflammation, prevent stress-induced ulcers, enhance resistance to infection and reduce the risk of anemia.

Constipation in pregnant women is caused by a combination of factors including rising progesterone levels, iron supplementation and changes in diet due to nausea or change in taste.  In addition, pregnancy causes changes in metabolism as well as the microbiome, resulting in changes in gut flora. 

Study details

This open-label, randomized controlled study recruited 22 pregnant women from 12 to 18 weeks of gestation. Participants assigned to the chlorella group supplemented with 6 g of chlorella tablets from the 12 to 18 week period of gestation until delivery.

Results were evaluated via blood biochemical tests at 25, 30 and 35 weeks gestation, and the researchers also monitored for evaluated evacuation status, side effects and status of offspring.

While labor complications and newborn characteristics as well as c-reactive protein levels and nutrient status were analyzed for differences between the control and chlorella group, no statistically significant differences were found. The only statistically significant finding was the chlorella group had a rate of constipation of 0 while the control group showed eight of 12 participants had constipation.

The researchers noted that the sample size was small for this study and hope to conduct a double-blind randomized control study in the future to determine the exact mechanism and further analyze nutrient status and c-reactive protein level differences.

"Chlorella supplementation also depends on the individual gut environment, so managing one's daily lifestyle and food intake to ensure a healthy gut environment before pregnancy is very important,” the study noted.

 

Source: Food Science and Nutrition
doi: 10.1002/fsn3.3759
“The effect of Chlorella​ supplementation in pregnant women with low-grade inflammation”
Authors: Uchiyama-Tanaka, Y. et al.

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