Does Sea Moss Have Health Benefits? Here's What a Nutritionist Says

Here's what the science says about this trendy superfood.

Seaweed has long been touted as a superfood, and now sea moss, sometimes called Irish sea moss or Irish moss, has entered the wellness lexicon.

Proponents have claimed that sea moss does everything from boosting immunity and soothing digestion to strengthening joints and improving skin health. So does sea moss actually live up to the hype? Here are five things you should know about this trendy ingredient.

Sea Moss Isn't New

Sea moss is a type of algae that has been part of the human diet for thousands of years. In addition to being consumed historically in places like the Caribbean and Ireland, sea moss has been used medicinally in other cultures for decades to treat conditions ranging from coughs and infections to low libido.

Sea Moss Benefits Aren't Well Researched

The research is scant on the effectiveness and safety of sea moss for various health outcomes. This includes a lack of knowledge about potential side effects; interactions with medications, herbs, or other supplements; proper dosage; and precautions based on various medical conditions.

Studies on the benefits of sea moss for diseases like cancer and Alzheimer's as well as how it impacts immunity have been conducted in labs or with animals, and they haven't used standardized forms of sea moss. This leaves unanswered questions about the ideal use of sea moss for humans.

There's a Lot About Sea Moss We Don't Know

While there is a growing interest in algae as a functional food—food with benefits beyond the nutrients it contains—there are many variables to consider.

Algae may be rich in minerals and antioxidants, but the digestibility and bioavailability of nutrients aren't well understood. In other words, how much nutrition is absorbed from the digestive tract into the bloodstream, and how accessible and usable are those nutrients to our cells?

Other question marks include the variability of nutrient levels based on where and how the algae are grown and issues related to potential contamination with heavy metals or other environmental toxins.

You Can Consume Too Much

Sea moss is likely a rich source of iodine. (Although, as mentioned above, the levels may vary.) This essential mineral helps produce thyroid hormones.

The goal with iodine is to consume a just-right amount, as both too little and too much can throw thyroid hormones out of whack. So yes, you can get too much of a good thing, and more isn't better. If you consume sea moss, be careful not to overdo it.

It May Be a Supplement Rather Than a Food

Sea moss is sold in several forms, including dried, ground, or in pills or droppers. Sea moss products sold as dietary supplements aren't regulated in the same way as prescription drugs. They do not have to be proven to be effective or safe before they are marketed. And there is largely no way of knowing if what is stated on the label is precisely what's in the product.

This isn't to say that supplements shouldn't be used. Many are beneficial, but it's important to use caution and to take supplements with the guidance of your doctor or a dietitian who can recommend the right form, dose, frequency, and length of use or identify any potential precautions to be aware of.

The Bottom Line on Sea Moss

Adding some sea moss to an occasional smoothie or a plant-based pudding (note: sea moss has a natural thickening property) is probably fine, and may offer some nutritional advantages.

But don't overdo it, count on it as a cure-all, or blindly accept all of the claims about its benefits, particularly from those profiting from its sale. Most importantly, seek out an independent expert before you incorporate any supplements into your daily or regular routine.

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