Fatty acid composition of Chlorella and Spirulina microalgae species

J AOAC Int. 2001 Nov-Dec;84(6):1708-14.


Two New Age foods which contain high concentrations of whole food nutrients are the single-celled microalgae Chlorella and Spirulina. They are accepted as functional foods, which are defined as products derived from natural sources, whose consumption is likely to benefit human health and enhance performance. These foods are used as a supplement/ingredient or as a complete food to enhance the performance and state of the human body, or improve a specific bodily function. Functional foods are used mainly as products to nourish the human body after physical exertion or as a preventive measure against ailments. We determined the fatty acid compositions, particularly polyunsaturated fatty acid compositions, of Chlorella and Spirulina by capillary column-gas chromatography. The data obtained show that Spirulina contains unusually high levels of gamma-linolenic acid, an essential polyunsaturated fatty acid.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry*
  • Chlorella / chemistry*
  • Chromatography, Gas / methods
  • Fatty Acids / analysis*
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / analysis
  • Food Analysis / methods*
  • Humans
  • Species Specificity
  • Spirulina
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid / analysis
  • gamma-Linolenic Acid / analysis


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid
  • gamma-Linolenic Acid