Seaweed Supplements - Health Benefits, Types, Potential Negative Effects

What are the health benefits of seaweed and seaweed supplements, in what ways can they be consumed, and what are some potential side effects and negative reactions to eating them?

Seaweed is an algae that forms striking underwater seaweed forests in not only shallow oceans, but in the deep sea as well.

It feeds through its fronds (growths resembling leaves of palm trees or many types of ferns), absorbing its nourishment from the nutrient rich seas and oceans or along their rocky shores. Many mineral elements (micro nutrients and electrolytes) absorbed from the water by the seaweed are quite beneficial to humans.

Working holistically, it assists the body in its own immune system / healing process. Seaweed has been found to have a positive effect in the human body, including areas of diseases such as tuberculosis, heart disease, colds, influenza, cancer, arthritis, and, of course, with thyroid problems (thanks to its high iodine content).

Seaweed, such as kelp, aids weight loss by swelling in the stomach, reducing food cravings by creating a full feeling. Homeopaths have known about the benefits of seaweed for hundreds of years concerning their weight-loss benefits through detoxification. Seaweed, and hence seaweed supplements, has more than 50 minerals and trace elements as well as iodine, which are essential to regulate the thyroid gland.

The life-giving properties of seaweed nourish the mitochondria, where energy for cell function is manufactured, as well as help to maintain the structure and function of cell membranes. It contains antioxidants to aid the body in its fight against such health conditions as cancer and degenerative diseases associated with the aging process. In addition, many of its micronutrients are anti-inflammatory.

Aside from incorporating seaweed into the diet by adding to or sprinkling on (comes not only dried but toasted and sugared as well) anything you normally eat or drink - as it does come in granulated, seaweed based salt substitutes or powdered forms - there are also seaweed supplements which come in capsules. A seaweed supplement can be taken as recommended on the container.

When you stack up the benefits of eating seaweed as opposed to not, and being fully aware of its potential to change factors of your life from the negative to the positive, it would seem foolish to ask if one should supplement. Still, there are facts that do need to be known about the sea plant before you start anything new, even if you are battling menopause or a digestive condition such as gas or chronic constipation, where you feel seaweed or seaweed supplements can help.

So, what are some potential side effects and negative reactions to eating seaweed and seaweed supplements?

An excessive intake of dried seaweed can cause carotenodermia, or yellowing of the skin because of the carotenes, though this is not a common occurrence. Seaweed is a rich source of iodine and, in countries where seaweed is a widely consumed additive, goiters due to excessive iodine are more common. This phenomenon, though, tends to disappear when the seaweed is eliminated from the diet, or in some cases just reduced, as iodine affects different people in different ways.

There are blue-green algae common throughout the Indian, Pacific and Caribbean oceans which are known to be toxic and will colonize other seaweeds. This algae has been known to cause contact dermatitis (stinging seaweed dermatitis).

Several other seaweeds, generally considered nontoxic, occasionally disrupt the gastrointestinal tract when ingested in some people. There have also been reports of cholera linked to eating raw seaweed. Be sure to get seaweed supplements and products from reputable sources that will stand behind what they provide for the public.

Learn more about this ocean superfood by reading the other related seaweed articles and pages.

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