Why is sea moss so popular?
Social media is buzzing with the health benefits of sea moss. What are they and are they backed by science? Our team of pharmaceutical consultants weighs in on this superfood.
What is sea moss?
Sea moss is a very common type of red algae that humans have known about for thousands of years. It is also known as:
- Irish moss
- Chondrus crispus
Its popularity skyrocketed when a young starlet made it known that it was a staple of her diet.
That’s all it took for sea moss to become associated with wellness and why so many influencers recommend it in all its forms:
- jelly candy
It’s actual benefits
According to proponents of sea moss, the list of benefits goes on and on.
However, the science is still out on that!
According to some animal studies, sea moss could be used to treat cancer and prevent Alzheimer’s disease as well as boost the immune system.
However, researchers must continue to investigate its side effects, how it interacts with other medication and natural health products, the ideal dosage and its contraindications before sea moss can be touted as a superfood.
It’s too early to tell whether or not sea moss can help you lose weight, strengthen your immune system, increase your sex drive, improve your skin tone and relieve joint pain.
What we do know is that sea moss is full of antioxidants whose benefits have been extensively studied and documented. More in-depth analysis will be required to determine whether its uses and properties are real. At this point, the scientific proof remains flimsy and insufficient to recommend sea moss.
Its nutrition facts
So, what’s in sea moss? Here’s the nutritional value of 20 grams:
- Calories: 10
- Protein: 0.5 grams
- Fibre: 0.5 grams
- Iron: 10% of recommended daily intake
- Magnesium: 7% of recommended daily intake
- Phosphorous: 2% of recommended daily intake
- Zinc: 4% of recommended daily intake
Sea moss is also rich in iodine, a vital trace element that’s required for the production of thyroid hormone. It’s also good for your growth, bones, body temperature and kidneys.
Iodine must be part of your diet. However, too much or too little of it can lead to hyper- or hypothyroidism. Adding sea moss to your diet could increase your daily intake of iodine. Endocrinologists recommend taking iodine supplements only when prescribed by a doctor.
When sea moss behaves like a sponge
Just because sea moss grows in nature doesn’t make it safe to eat.
It absorbs its food from its environment, which will affect its nutritional value. Depending on where it grows, the moss could contain trace amounts of toxins and heavy metals, like mercury and lead.
You should also avoid eating it when you are:
- pregnant or breastfeeding
- taking blood thinners
What does Health Canada say about it?
For information about a product and its market status, refer to the Licensed Natural Health Products Database (LNHPD).
The products listed here are evaluated by Health Canada for security, efficacy and quality when used in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
When you’re at a pharmacy and need to know whether or not a sea moss product is approved by Health Canada, check the natural product number (NPN) or the homeopathic medicine drug identification number (DIN-HM) on the label.
Be careful, though. The fact that a product is certified by Health Canada doesn’t necessarily mean that the virtues of sea moss, as touted on social media, are effective. This certification simply means that the company makes the product in compliance with manufacturing standards.
Not for everyone
Avoid eating sea moss, in any form, when you suffer from:
- iodine allergies
- heart disease
- kidney disease
Sea moss: to take or not to take?
Like all other over-the-counter supplements and vitamins, sea moss can have beneficial health effects. However, there is no better lifestyle habit than a balanced, varied diet.
So, be sure to talk to your healthcare professional about adding sea moss to your diet.