Nutritional supplements are increasingly finding their way into regular diets, replacing and supplementing dietary intake. Changing lifestyles and hectic schedules have deprived individuals of time required to prepare nutritious food. This has resulted in poor health, and in many instances, have resulted in the need for intervention to improve health. Sea moss, rich in minerals and vitamins is one among the various supplements that have grown in popularity due to the benefits linked to the supplement. Subsequent sections offer a detailed look at the supplement, including possible sea moss benefits and side effects and simple tips to prevent undesirable outcomes from the supplement.

Overview of sea moss

Also known as Irish moss, sea moss is essentially a form of algae found in the sea. As outlined above, it is rich in vitamins and minerals, that make it a nutritiously rich diet. Belonging to the seaweed category Chondrus crispus, sea moss appears similar to other varieties of seaweeds with a spiny growth and is typically red in color. It is necessary to note that though it is generally red in color, it can sometimes take a different color, depending on various contributing factors like temperature of the water and the climate of the locality. It is found in along coastlines that are rocky in nature, and is generally found in coastal areas of the northern part of the Atlantic.

Nutrition profile of sea moss

An average serving size of 10 grams of sea moss is known to be rich in antioxidants that give it properties in combatting oxidation. Additionally, the serving of seaweed also contains 4.9 grams of calories, 0.2 grams of protein, zero fat, 1.2 grams of carbohydrates, 0.2 grams of sugar, 7.2 milligrams of calcium, 14.4 milligrams of magnesium, 15.7 milligrams of phosphorous, 6.3 milligrams of potassium, 0.9 milligrams of iron, 0.2 milligrams of zinc, 0.02 milligrams of copper, and 0.04 milligrams of manganese. All species of vegetables in the sea are known to be rich in iodine and sea moss is no exception, with studies indicating that every gram of sea moss contains as much as 47 milligrams of iodine.

Different forms of sea moss or supplement available in market

Over the years, sea moss has been harvested and used in different forms. A product that used to be typically available only in areas near coastlines, now finds itself in shelves globally. The carrageenan in sea moss gives it a property of increasing the thickness, and this makes it easy to use in soups, or other preparations that need to be thickened, such as stews. Sea moss is also available in dry form, giving customers the option to prepare as desired. However, the most common or popular form is the ready to use dietary supplement which is a more convenient form. The most common form of sea moss is gel or dried powder which is then used in various preparations. It is also present in products as an ingredient with other ingredients to make it a combination nutritional supplement. By virtue of the thickening property, it is now increasingly popular as vitamin gummies and gels that make it ready to consume.

Commonly linked benefits of sea moss

It is time to look at commonly linked benefits of sea moss; essentially the broad benefits are the same as that of other specie of sea algae. This is because sea algae contain similar compounds, thereby resulting in similar mechanism of action or properties. It is necessary to note here that some of the claims of benefits are proven, while some of the benefits are claimed. This is attributed to the properties and the nutritional breakup of sea moss. It is widely accepted that additional in-depth studies and analysis are required to fully substantiate the claims of benefits.

#1 Offers results in weight management regimen

Studies conducted on two groups of participants showed positive outcomes. The group on 1000 milligrams of sea moss per day for a period of three months witnessed a reduction in BMI apart from a reduction in weight, when compared with the control group on a placebo. This indicates that sea moss contributes to weight management and loss. This is attributed to the fucoxanthin compound present in sea weeds, that is known to break down fat. Fat that is metabolized faster, and fat that breaks down faster is known to help in weight loss and reduction of BMI. It is also important to add here that the outcomes are linked to the variety of seaweed, and different varieties may have different effects.

#2 Impact on thyroid health issues

Thyroid health is linked to iodine levels, and this makes seaweed/sea moss a good choice to help patients with thyroid related complications. Thyroid glands require iodine for the creation of hormones in the body that help in various functions. Insufficient iodine in the body is known to be responsible for thyroid health issues and the various metabolism health issues linked to proper functioning of thyroid glands. By supplementing the body with iodine through natural sources, iodine deficiency can be tackled, and by extension thyroid health issues.

#3 Improves gut health

In addition to the properties and actions outlined above, sea moss is also known to possess pre-biotic properties, and this makes it extremely useful in helping improve gut health. Specifically, gut microbiome is benefitted significantly from the prebiotic effect. Consequently, digestion improves, apart from a positive impact on the immune system. Digestive health and the immune system are responsible for various aspects of health, and sea moss by virtue of helping improve gut health has a positive outcome on overall health.

Rich in dietary fiber, sea moss helps maintain the healthy bacteria levels in the intestines. Additionally, the presence of carrageenan (oligosaccharides) helps in improving gut health. However, it is to be added here that findings of studies are predominantly from studies conducted on laboratory animals and did not comprise human participants. Substantiation of this is possible when studies on humans corroborate the same.

#4 Impact on cancer

Certain types of cancer are known to respond to some compounds. Sea moss is known to contain some of the compounds, such as fucoxanthin, that is known to exercise some effect on colorectal cancer. The compound is also known to have properties that help reduce the risks associated with cancer. Studies that determined these effects involved extracts that contained high concentration levels of fucoxanthin, and it is therefore necessary to bear this in mind. All extracts may not necessarily contain high levels that may be required for similar outcomes.

#5 Impact of the neuroprotective properties

Various age-related degenerative conditions are all known to respond positively to antioxidants. This is because these conditions are attributed to free radical damage and oxidation.  Studies have established a link between sea moss and neuroprotective effects on laboratory specimens, and this holds out a promise of impact on degenerative conditions. This requires further in-depth analysis and studies on human participants to fully establish the properties.

Commonly reported undesirable effects of sea moss

As mentioned above, this is a compilation of sea moss benefits and side effects and it is time to look at the possible unwanted outcomes of the supplement. While it is considered as relatively safe and free from effects linked to various other supplements, certain possibilities exist. The expected outcomes or desired outcomes may differ from the actual outcomes, due to the different sources. A product sourced from one location may have potent properties, while a product sourced from a different location may not have similar properties or outcomes.

One of the reasons for possible adverse effects is the lack of a prescribed dosage, or intake level. This results in either excessive intake or lesser intake. Certain effects are mild in nature, such as fever, or a burning sensation in the mouth, apart from possible diarrhea and vomiting. These effects typically resolve naturally and may not require any kind of medical intervention.

Excess iodine levels

Sea moss, by virtue of being identified as a supplement with good iodine levels is likely to end up causing an increase in iodine levels in the body, beyond the ideal levels. This may trigger iodine poisoning; wherein excessive iodine levels create health issues. This could also result in thyroid related complications. It is therefore necessary to regulate intake and ensure that the supplements do not cause excess iodine levels. Some of the common iodine related health complications include goiter, thyroid cancer, hyper thyroidism and hypothyroidism.

Another issue that could arise from sea moss supplements is when individuals opt for a diet wherein sea moss is the only source for iodine. Individuals may sometimes prefer to stick to a single source for some ingredient, to ensure that intake is of the right levels. However, in such circumstances, there is the possibility of substandard sources compromising intake levels. For instance, the source of sea moss may effectively reduce the amount of iodine intake and this may keep the individual iodine deficient, while the user may believe that he or she is taking the required levels of iodine. It is necessary to choose a product from reputed manufacturers to avoid this condition.

Contamination related effects

As sea weed is naturally grown, it is exposed to the perils of environmental damage. For instance, certain locations may be exposed to pollutants and this may result in the algae containing heavy metals and minerals, that may pose a health hazard if taken for a longer duration. The environment in which the sea moss grows contributes to the ingredients and compounds, and this will significantly impact the ingredients and nutrient profile. Metals that are known to be present in sea moss include arsenic, lead, and mercury that are all known to affect health.

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