Seaweed is a large part of almost all coastal diets—Japan, Korea, China, Iceland, Denmark, Hawaii, and more—and for good reason. There is definitely something to this. Seaweed offers a variety of health benefits that many of us are missing out on; not only that, but the wide range of nutrients that seaweed contains is a benefit in and of itself. Many of these nutrients are not found in the everyday plants that are eaten in America. Since seaweed is native to the sea, it soaks up all the nutrients there. For this reason, seaweed supplements have been experiencing a surge in popularity, both for the nutrients available in them and the benefits that the supplements can potentially have on the body.
Nutrients in Seaweed
There are different types of seaweed, and the nutrients actually available depend on the type of seaweed at which you’re looking. However, nitrogen, phosphorous, iodine, calcium, potassium, magnesium, sulfur, saccharides, most of the twenty amino acids, and nearly all of the minerals that the body needs, are typically present in this nutritional powerhouse of a food. Additionally, seaweed is low in fat and low in calories.
Health Benefits of Seaweed
As mentioned above, seaweed is chock full of dozens of nutrients that, in the body, ultimately equal an equation for good health. In addition, since seaweed is all natural, its nutrients are easily obtained by the body for their designated function. The following are the purported health benefits that seaweed has to offer.
Treatment of thyroid disorders
Seaweed is very rich in the nutrient iodine, which the thyroid needs to produce and release the thyroid hormones. These hormones are responsible for regulating metabolism, among other things.
Treatment of cancer
Seaweed is said to be useful in the treatment of cancer because of its natural detoxification properties.
High blood pressure and high cholesterol
These two conditions have been shown to be improved due to the use of seaweed supplementation.
Seaweed has been somewhat marketed for its ability to initiate weight loss. Many people think that certain compounds in seaweed make it ideal for this. In addition, it has detoxifying properties that can also promote weight loss. You probably shouldn’t take seaweed just for the goal of losing weight because you will probably be disappointed. Weight loss requires you to eat fewer calories than you would normally consume and to incorporate exercise into your daily routine, at least 30 minutes of it.
Other conditions for which seaweed is used
There is not much evidence backing these uses up, but seaweed has also been used to treat obesity, arthritis, joint pain, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), digestive disorders, heart burn, detoxification, constipation, bronchitis, emphysema, urinary tract infections, and anxiety. Increased energy levels are often reported after supplementing with seaweed.
Seaweed supplements are taken for the simple reason of convenience. It is more convenient to swallow a pill than go on the hunt for some good seaweed. The supplements can be purchased in health food stores, and probably a supermarket. The supplements come in capsule form or in powder form, the latter of which can be mixed with food or a drink. It is possible to find whole seaweed in an Asian market. You may be surprised how much better you feel after taking seaweed supplements.
Talk With Your Doctor
Before starting on any type of dietary supplement, it is a good idea to inform you doctor. Tell your doctor of all the medications and supplements you are already taking so he or she can tell you whether it is safe or not to supplement with seaweed.