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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Benefits of Chlorophyll

[Extracted from 'Vitamins & health supplements guide']

Chlorophyll is the green pigment which is responsible for the green colour in most plants. Chlorophyll absorbs most in the red and blue portions of the electromagnetic spectrum, thus its intense green color. Chlorophyll is capable of channelling the energy of sunlight into chemical energy through the process of photosynthesis.

In photosynthesis, the energy absorbed by chlorophyll transforms carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates and oxygen. Chlorophyll is a large molecule composed mostly of carbon and hydrogen. At the center of the molecule is a single atom of magnesium surrounded by a nitrogen-containing group of atoms called a porphyrin ring. The molecular structure of the chlorophylls is similar to that of the heme portion of hemoglobi.

Chlorophyll absorbs light in the red and blue-violet portions of the visible spectrum; the green portion is not absorbed and, reflected, gives chlorophyll its characteristic color. Chlorophyllin is a semi-synthetic mixture of water-soluble sodium copper salts derived from chlorophyll. Chlorophyllin is water-soluble.

There are several kinds of chlorophyll, the most important being chlorophyll a which makes up about 75 percent of the chlorophyll in green plants. It is also found in cyanobacteria (formerly known as blue-green algae) and in more complex photosynthetic cells.

Chlorophyll (a) is the pigment that participates directly in the light requiring reactions of photosynthesis. Chlorophyll (b) occurs only in "green algae" and in the plants. Higher plants and green algae, such as chlorella contain chlorophyll (a) and chlorophyll (b) in the approximate ratio of 3:1. The difference between the two chlorophylls is that a methyl side-chain in chlorophyll a is replaced by a formyl group in chlorophyll (b). Chlorophyll (b) is an accessory pigment present in plants and other complex photosynthetic cells. It absorbs light energy of a different wavelength and transfers it to chlorophyll (a) for ultimate conversion to chemical energy. It is an accessory pigment and acts indirectly in photosynthesis by transferring the light it absorbs to chlorophyll (a).

Photosynthesis is a complex process used by many plants and bacteria to build carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water, using energy derived from light. Photosynthesis is the process of converting light energy to chemical energy and storing it in the bonds of sugar. Photosynthesis is the key initial step in the growth of biomass. In the process oxygen and water are released. Increased levels of carbon dioxide can increase net photosynthesis in some plants. Plants create a very important reservoir for carbon dioxide. From energy produced by sunlight, the leaves combine carbon dioxide from the air and water from the soil to produce carbohydrates. Oxygen is released in the process. Carbohydrates plus fats and proteins are the plant foods necessary for growth and respiration of the tree.

Plants are the only photosynthetic organisms to have leaves (and not all plants have leaves). A leaf may be viewed as a solar collector crammed full of photosynthetic cells. Plants capture light using the pigment chlorophyll, which gives them their green color. This is contained in organelles (compartments within the cells) called chloroplasts. Chlorophyll or closely-related pigments (substances that color the plant) are essential to the photosynthetic process. The cells in the interior tissues of a leaf, called the mesophyll, contain about half a million chloroplasts for every square millimetre of leaf. The surface of the leaf is uniformly coated with a water-resistant, waxy cuticle, that protects the leaf from excessive absorption of light and evaporation of water. The transparent, colourless epidermis layer allows light to pass through to the palisade mesophyll cells where most of the photosynthesis takes place.

The chlorophyll molecule is the site of "photosynthesis", the process by which the energy of the sun is converted firstly into the energy of sugars and other carbohydrates. These in turn supply virtually all of the energy needed by the plant and animal world. Chlorophyll is essential in the transformation of light energy to chemical energy in photosynthesis. Plants use chlorophyll to convert the energy of sunlight to food in the process known as photosynthesis.

Chlorophyll health benefits
Chlorophyll has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and wound-healing properties. Chlorophyll and chlorophyllin are able to form tight molecular complexes with certain chemicals known or suspected to cause cancer, including polyaromatic hydrocarbons found in tobacco smoke. Chlorophyll is a good source of antioxidant nutrients. Antioxidant nutrients such as vitamins A, C and E help to neutralise harmful molecules (free radicals) in the body that can cause damage to healthy cells. Chlorophyll is an efficient deliverer of magnesium and helps the blood carry oxygen to the cells and tissue. Chlorophyll assists in the chelation of heavy metals. Chlorophyll has been studied for its potential in stimulating tissue growth and in stimulating red blood cells in connection with oxygen supply. Chlorophyll also removes carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, and has been found to reduce fecal, urinary, and body odor. Chlorophyll may reduce the binding of carcinogens to DNA in the liver and other organs. Chlorophyll may be beneficial in the treatment of calcium oxalate stone disease and that they may have some anti-atherogenic activity. It also breaks down calcium-oxalate stones, which are created by the body to neutralize acid, for elimination. Calcium oxalate stones are better known as kidney stones. Chlorophyll and chlorophyllin may have some antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic potential, may help protect against some toxins, and may ameliorate some drug side effects. Chlorophyll has been used traditionally to improve bad breath, as well as to reduce the odors of urine, feces, and infected wounds.

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