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Sea Moss: Realistic Benefits and Valid Concerns

Sea moss is an umbrella term that refers to several different species of seaweed belonging to a larger group called red algae or red seaweed. For decades, red seaweed has been harvested for the extraction of a substance called carrageenan, used as a thickening agent in the food industry. Recently, sea moss has resurfaced as a 'superfood' allegedly providing numerous health benefits. In this article, we will explore the validity of these claims and extract the facts from the hype surrounding the use of sea moss as a health supplement.

What is sea moss?

The term 'sea moss' is used to refer to several edible seaweeds that resemble leafy vegetables. The most commonly available varieties of sea moss include Chondrus crispus, Eucheuma cottonii, and seaweeds from the genus Gracilaria. Rich in essential nutrients, sea moss is a popular addition to various diets for its potential health benefits.

Types of sea moss

Sea moss can be purchased in many different shapes and forms, depending on your personal needs and preferences. Below, we explore the different types of sea moss and their unique properties to help you choose the best option for your dietary needs.

Dried sea moss

Sea moss can be purchased dried in its whole leaf form or as a powder. When rehydrated and blended with some water, sea moss forms a jelly-like substance that can enhance the consistency of smoothies, soups, and various other recipes.

Sea moss in capsules and tablets

Sea moss can be consumed in capsule or tablet form for more convenient use as a supplement. Such supplements usually contain powdered sea moss, but some companies also offer products with sea moss extracts. It is important to note that doses in these supplements are largely arbitrary, as research on sea moss health benefits in humans is rather limited (more on that below).

Sea moss gels

Sea moss gels are essentially just sea moss blended until it reaches a jelly-like consistency. The gels are a popular way to consume red seaweed, as they can be flavored with other ingredients to mask the less palatable ‘fishy’ flavor of sea moss.

Health benefits of sea moss

Many alleged advantages of sea moss consumption, ranging from excellent nutrition to benefits for the skin and immune system, are echoed throughout the internet. However, the majority of these claims lack scientific backing. Let’s explore the benefits sea moss might realistically offer based on current research.

Can provide essential micronutrients

The exact nutritional content of sea moss will depend on the particular species of seaweed and the processing method used. However, to get a general picture, let’s look at the nutritional values of the most commonly discussed sea moss variety, Chondrus crispus, also called Irish moss. Four tablespoons (20 g) of raw Irish moss contain only 10 kcal with virtually negligible amounts of carbohydrates, fats, protein, and sugar. However, they can provide considerable quantities of these vitamins and minerals:

NutrientDaily value for menDaily value for premenopausal women

In addition to the micronutrients mentioned above, sea moss tends to contain high amounts of iodine. Its iodine content can vary a lot; 0.33 g of dried sea moss powder usually provides 100% of the recommended daily allowance.

Might support thyroid function

Insufficient intake of iodine can negatively affect thyroid function and lead to hypothyroidism. Sea moss can provide an additional iodine source in your diet, helping to ensure optimal thyroid health. Sea moss is also one of the few natural sources of iodine for vegans and might be a great choice for those not keen on taking supplements or using iodized salt.

Might promote gut health

Sea moss contains prebiotic carbohydrates that can support the well-being of beneficial intestinal bacteria. A healthy gut microbiome is important not only for proper digestion but also for many other health outcomes, such as protection from cancer.

Contains antioxidant compounds

Popular sea moss varieties, such as Chondrus crispus and Eucheuma cottonii, contain antioxidant compounds like phenols and flavonoids, and their extracts have been previously demonstrated to have antioxidant activities in a test tube.

Might have anti-bacterial properties

The extract of sea moss Eucheuma cottonii was shown to significantly enhance the healing of skin lesions in mice when applied topically. This effect might be at least partially attributed to the extract’s ability to inhibit the growth of a common wound-infecting bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus, as demonstrated in test tube experiments.

Might have anti-inflammatory effects

A polysaccharide from sea moss Eucheuma cottonii has been shown to have anti-inflammatory activities in obese rats when consumed orally. Similarly, compounds from another sea moss variety, Gracilaria longissimi, have been observed to produce anti-inflammatory effects in test tube experiments with human endothelial cells.

Sea moss health concerns

Seaweed has been consumed as food all around the world for centuries. However, that does not mean there are no health risks involved. Below, we will discuss the main health concerns associated with using sea moss as a supplement.

Contamination with heavy metals

Sea moss has a tendency to absorb toxic metals (such as lead, mercury, and similar) from the environment and can accumulate up to 500 times the amount found in land plants. Thus, it is important to ensure that the sea moss you are purchasing has been third-party tested and does not contain toxic levels of heavy metals or other contaminants.

High iodine content

The iodine content in sea moss can vary greatly, but typically, 0.3–3 g of dried sea moss powder is enough to provide the daily recommended amount of this nutrient. Excessive levels of iodine can have negative effects on thyroid function. Thus, it might be wise to look for products that provide information about their iodine content so you can make sure not to exceed your recommended daily allowance. People suffering from thyroid problems should take special care and consult a healthcare professional before incorporating sea moss into their diet.

Gastrointestinal problems

Some evidence suggests that sea moss polysaccharide carrageenan might promote inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract and contribute to the development or flare-ups of inflammatory bowel diseases. This take is still rather controversial in the scientific community due to the confusion between carrageenan and its breakdown products. Carrageenan breakdown products can indeed have negative health effects, but they are created using extreme conditions and do not appear to form naturally during digestion. However, if you experience gastrointestinal discomfort when consuming sea moss, make sure to consult your healthcare professional or try eliminating sea moss from your diet.

Sea moss alternatives

For those seeking alternatives to sea moss, there are several natural remedies that offer similar health benefits. Spirulina and chlorella are two noteworthy options. Both of them are types of algae that offer various nutritional benefits. Spirulina is rich in protein, vitamins, and antioxidants, while chlorella contains chlorophyll and is considered beneficial for detoxification. These alternatives are available in various forms such as powders and tablets, making them convenient dietary supplements.

How to choose the best sea moss product?

Choosing the best sea moss product involves several key criteria. First, ensure sea moss products are certified and have third-party testing for safety as they may contain high concentrations of heavy metals. Also, to get the best quality supplement, check the ingredients list to ensure it is free from additives and preservatives.

Another critical factor is the quantity of iodine and carrageenan in the supplement. It is important to consider the iodine content of sea moss, especially if you have an existing health condition. Additionally, carrageenan may have potential negative effects on the digestive system. Thus, consult a health professional about sea moss consumption before purchasing the product.

Lastly, read customer reviews and research the brand’s reputation to ensure reliability and quality.

📝Healthnews editor's top picks

If you're considering sea moss, our dedicated article might offer valuable insights. Explore some of the leading sea moss products on the market, tailored to potentially address various health needs such as improved digestion, enhanced immune function, and better skin health.

Snap Supplements Irish Sea Moss comm block
  • Vegan
  • Manufactured in the U.S.
  • Without added sugars and gluten
  • Includes bladderwrack and burdock root

What we liked most about Snap Supplements is its transparent manufacturing practices. The product is made in an FDA-registered facility and holds a GMP certification. Additionally, the brand has positive customer reviews, with many praising the price, quality, and ease of consumption. We found no downsides to this product.

Organics Nature Ultimate Collagen Sea Moss Bundle
  • Non-GMO
  • Third-party tested
  • Contains collagen
  • Soy-free and gluten-free

What we enjoyed most about the sea moss supplement by Organics Nature is its powder formula, which combines collagen and sea moss in two unique flavors — cappuccino and vanilla. Many users enjoyed the taste, especially when mixed with coffee, and appreciated how well the supplement blends into drinks without leaving clumps. However, some messages on the brand’s website seem to rely on fear tactics and criticize established medical practices.

hellohealth® Organic Sea Moss
  • Third-party tested
  • Made in the U.S.
  • Free from fillers and preservatives
  • Gluten and sugar-free

What we appreciated most about the sea moss supplement by Hello Health is that it is crafted locally in the U.S. and manufactured in GMP-certified facilities, ensuring the highest standards. Additionally, we loved that the product is free from fillers and preservatives and has been third-party tested for quality. However, some users reported that the product has an unpleasant smell.

Double Wood Irish Sea Moss Extract
  • Transparent brand
  • Has COA and third-party testing
  • Free shipping
  • Enriched with vitamins and minerals

We appreciated Double Wood Supplements' strong commitment to transparency, as the brand ensures comprehensive research, testing, and good manufacturing practices. We also liked that users described Double Wood as a reliable company and expressed satisfaction with their Irish Sea Moss Extract. However, some users did not enjoy the aftertaste and found the capsule size to be too large.

Nutra Remedies Sea Moss Capsules
  • Available in stores and online
  • GMP-certified
  • Third-party tested
  • Contains bladderwrack and burdock

We appreciated that Nutra Remedies is manufactured in a GMP-certified facility and undergoes third-party testing for quality and safety. The supplement has many positive customer reviews, with users noting increased energy levels. However, the brand needs to improve its customer service, as some reviews mentioned issues with shipping and delivery.

Diving into the latest research of sea moss

Sea moss research is an ongoing area of study, with emerging evidence suggesting its potential health benefits. It appears that with sensible precautions, sea moss can be an effective addition to your diet. Apart from containing considerable amounts of several essential nutrients, sea moss seems to have promising antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. However, it is important to remember that evidence testing these beneficial effects in humans is still lacking, and thus health claims regarding sea moss should always be taken with a grain of salt. It is essential to approach health claims with caution and consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating sea moss into your dietary regimen.


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