You may have seen sea moss, sometimes Irish moss, in some of the latest superfood and weight loss supplement fads online.
In recent years, Irish moss has gained widespread popularity due to the glowing endorsements of celebrities such as Kim Kardashian. Although Irish moss is a nutrient-rich supplement, it needs more research to determine its full health benefits and risks.
What Did The Research Reveal?
Research on the effects of carrageenan, one of Irish sea moss’s main components, is conflicting and sparse. However, some studies have suggested carrageenan may contribute to inflammation and digestive problems like bloating.
On the other hand, there is also speculation that sea moss may benefit digestive health due to its fiber and live bacteria content.
There is a more established concern that seaweed, including sea moss, may adversely affect thyroid health. Iodine toxicity can occur when taken in excess or in combination with foods containing iodine.
Iodine supplementation harms thyroid function, so many endocrinologists do not recommend taking extra iodine unless medically necessary.
Even though iodine is considered a vital component of thyroid health, most Americans get enough in their diets.
Although it’s hard to eat enough to cause hyperthyroidism with food alone, people with thyroid conditions (such as Graves’ disease, Hashimoto’s disease, or thyroiditis) should consult their doctor before eating sea moss.
Taking supplements high in iodine, such as Irish moss, may worsen hypothyroidism and interact with thyroid medications. If you’re taking other herbs, supplements, or drugs, you should always consult your doctor before taking these supplements. The National Institutes of Health recommends that adults consume no more than 150 micrograms of iodine daily, regardless of whether they have thyroid disease. (If you are pregnant or lactating, this amount increases to 220 micrograms and 290 micrograms, respectively.)
What is Irish Sea Moss?
Chondrus crispus is the scientific name for sea moss. It is a red alga that grows on the Atlantic coast from the British Isles to continental Europe and North America. Despite resembling red leaf lettuce in size and color, it can come in various colors — from yellow-green to dark purple — and can be spiky or frilly.
Among the main components is carrageenan, used in food products, cosmetics, and medications to thicken them.
As a result of some of those same properties, sea moss is now appearing in wellness products – and there may be some truth in the claims, though research is limited and suggests that Irish sea moss may not be suitable for everyone.
The Nutritional Facts of Sea Moss
Among other nutrients, sea moss is high in iodine, resulting in improved heart health, enhanced blood sugar regulation, and reduced cancer risk. The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides the following nutrition facts for two tablespoons (tbsp) of sea moss:
- Calories: 5
- Fat: 0.02g
- Protein: 0.2g
- Carbohydrates: 1.2g
- Iron: 0.89mg
- Magnesium: 14.4mg
- Dietary fiber: 0.13g
- Calcium: 7.2 mg
- Vitamin A: 0.6 mcg
- Vitamin C: 0.3mg
- Vitamin K: 0.5mcg
- Potassium: 6.3mg
Irish Sea Moss Supplements: Should I Take Them?
Even though eating Irish moss occasionally in raw form is unlikely to cause adverse health effects, it’s always a good idea to consult your healthcare provider before taking Irish moss supplements.
It is better to reap nutritional benefits from whole food sources rather than supplements if you consume a healthy diet rich in various food types. However, these supplements are not without risk, so it’s better to eat whole food products whenever possible.