Irish Sea Moss, a nutrient-rich, red alga that tastes and smells of the ocean, has caught the attention of celebrities and social media influencers who promote it for health benefits such as helping with mild acne and providing relief from occasional indigestion support.
But is Irish Sea Moss better than any other form of seaweed? What is it good for? Des it have all the health benefits celebrities claim it has?
This article looks at this popular supplement, its nutritional composition, potential health benefits, and precautions and reviews other herbal supplements that are great alternatives for supporting your health.
Irish Sea Moss: A Gift From the Sea
Irish Sea Moss, also known as Chondrus crispus or carrageenan moss, is a lacy-shaped seaweed that thrives in the rocky coastal regions of the Atlantic Ocean, particularly around Ireland. It first became popular during the Irish potato famine, over 175 years ago, when people desperate for something to eat began harvesting this red algae from the rocks. Since the 1970s, food processors have used carrageenan extracted from Irish Sea Moss as a thickener and gelling agent for products like ice cream, non-dairy milk, and pudding.
Today Irish Sea Moss is often made into a gel and eaten by the spoonful or added to smoothies. It can also be added to soups, stews, or jams as a thickening agent. If you don’t like the gelatinous texture of Sea Moss gel, you can take powdered Sea Moss in capsule form.
Irish Sea Moss Offers a Range of Nutrients and Potential Health Benefits*
Irish Sea Moss boasts an impressive nutritional profile similar to other popular seaweeds, such as those used in sushi or seaweed salad. It provides a natural source of essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B2, calcium, folate, magnesium, zinc, and iodine. Irish Sea Moss is also a source of dietary fiber, both soluble and insoluble.
Many health benefits have been attributed to Irish Sea Moss due to the fact its compounds contain numerous polyphenols, polysaccharides, and sterols, as well as other bioactive molecules.REF#2471 Some studies indicate that Irish Sea Moss may support the following:
- Gut Health and Digestion: It may support gut health and aid digestion due to its high fiber content.* Soluble fiber acts as a prebiotic, promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and supporting overall digestive wellness. Insoluble fiber helps prevent and treat constipation.
- Immune System Support: The bioactive compounds in Sea Moss include sulfated polysaccharides, which are believed to possess antimicrobial properties, aiding in the body's defense against pathogens.REF#2472 Irish Sea Moss may help strengthen the immune system, but no human studies have confirmed this benefit.
- Skin Health: Sea Moss is often used in anti-aging skincare products due to its hydrating properties and potential to promote collagen production. Using it may result in smoother and more youthful-looking skin.REF#2473
- Impact on Thyroid Function: With its significant iodine content, Irish Sea Moss may positively impact thyroid function. Adequate iodine levels are crucial for proper thyroid hormone production. If you don’t use iodized table salt, you may benefit from a daily dose of Sea Moss. However, taking too much iodine can affect your thyroid adversely, so you should be very careful to follow dosage guidelines.REF#2474 Adults need an average of 150 micrograms of iodine a day.
Since research is so limited, more studies are needed to validate these claims and determine optimal dosage and usage.
Possible Side Effects and Precautions Associated with Irish Sea Moss
While Irish Sea Moss is generally considered safe, one of the main safety concerns is its potential to be contaminated with heavy metals, including mercury and lead, or microbial pathogens from the ocean. If you want to try Irish Sea Moss, look for supplements that have been screened for heavy metals, microbes, and pesticides.
Another concern is the potential for the carrageenan in Sea Moss to degrade and become toxic to the gastrointestinal tract, causing inflammatory bowel syndrome, ulcers, or other digestive health issues. The research on this potential side effect is preliminary and controversial, but it does suggest the need for caution.
While your body requires iodine to support thyroid function, just two tablespoons of raw Sea Moss contain 470 mg of iodine. The FDA recommends adults consume no more than 150 micrograms of iodine a day, which is less than most Irish Sea Moss supplements contain. It's worth noting that this is a rough estimate, and individual iodine needs may vary based on factors such as age, sex, and specific health conditions. Therefore, asking your healthcare professional for advice on iodine intake and the appropriate dosage of Irish Sea Moss is crucial.
Allergic reactions to Irish Sea Moss are very rare. When they occur, symptoms may include rashes, hives, swelling, itching, sneezing, and trouble breathing. If you have sensitive skin or other allergies, perform a patch test before using any topical product that contains Irish Sea Moss.
Also, if you take medications that affect blood thinning or thyroid function, consult your healthcare provider before incorporating Irish Sea Moss into your routine.
Future for Irish Sea Moss
Given the rich nutritional composition of Irish Sea Moss, including vitamins, minerals, and fiber, this seaweed may prove to be a valuable addition to a healthy diet. While preliminary research suggests its positive impact on gut health, immune function, inflammation, and skin health, further scientific investigation is needed to understand its effects fully.
Until more scientific evidence is available, Irish Sea Moss may be a supplement to use cautiously and responsibly with consideration for individual sensitivities. Meanwhile, enjoy all the other gifts of nature that can support your health effectively.
- 1. , "Seaweeds as a Functional Ingredient for a Healthy Diet", Marine Drugs. 1 1. , "Seaweeds as a Functional Ingredient for a Healthy Diet", Marine Drugs.
- 2. , "Assessment of the effects of sulfated polysaccharides extracted from the red seaweed Irish moss Chondrus crispus on the immune-stimulant activity in mussels Mytilus spp", Fish & Shellfish Immunology. 2 2. , "Assessment of the effects of sulfated polysaccharides extracted from the red seaweed Irish moss Chondrus crispus on the immune-stimulant activity in mussels Mytilus spp", Fish & Shellfish Immunology.
- 3. , "Potential Use of Seaweed Bioactive Compounds in Skincare—A Review", Marine Drugs. 3 3. , "Potential Use of Seaweed Bioactive Compounds in Skincare—A Review", Marine Drugs.
- 4. , "Risk assessment of iodine intake from the consumption of red seaweeds (Palmaria palmata and Chondrus crispus)", Environmental Science and Pollution Research International. 4 4. , "Risk assessment of iodine intake from the consumption of red seaweeds (Palmaria palmata and Chondrus crispus)", Environmental Science and Pollution Research International.