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Sea moss, or Irish sea moss, has been cropping up on people’s wellness radars for a few years now. Touted as a present-day health supplement, sea moss has actually been used nutritionally and medicinally for centuries.

Sea moss shows up as a thickening agent in baked goods, in the ingredient list of some cosmetics, and more recently as a health supplement in its own right.

Whether taken as a capsule or added to smoothies in a gelatinous form, it’s worth getting to know a little bit more about this latest superfood, where it comes from, and the impact it can have on your and the environment.

What Exactly is Sea Moss?

Sea moss (Chondrus crispus) is actually a type of algae, or seaweed, and grows along the Atlantic coasts of North America and Europe. It also grows in the warmer water of Asia, South America, Africa, and areas of the Caribbean. It comes in a variety of colors, but the most common type is usually red sea moss, aka Irish sea moss.

Nutritional and Health Benefits of Sea Moss

Source: Dr. Jen Caudle/YouTube


As with many members of the seaweed family, sea moss is dense in nutrients that we can all benefit from. It is fat, and sugar-free, and even has a small amount of protein.

A 4-tablespoon serving of sea moss will provide you with 1% of the Daily Value (DV) of calcium, 10% of the DV of iron, 7% of the DV of magnesium, 2% of the DV of phosphorous, 4% of the DV of zinc and 3% of the DV of copper.

As well, it is a good source of iodine and is rich in antioxidants.

Heath Benefits

Though many people use sea moss as a nutrient booster for their diets, others take it for its alleged health benefits. There is very limited scientific backing for the medicinal properties of sea moss, but it may help in a number of areas.

Due to its high iodine content, sea moss is thought to regulate and Support the thyroid. The fiber content and bacteria in sea moss are thought to help Support a healthy gut, while other studies suggest that it may help to lower cholesterol.

Many of these studies at this point, however, have been done on seaweed in general and not on sea moss specifically.

Things to Be Aware of When Using Sea Moss in Your Diet

Due to the nature in which they grow, seaweed and sea moss can vary greatly in their nutritional values. The immediate environment that they grow in can have a huge impact on the makeup of these plants/algae.

As with seaweed, sea moss has a tendency to absorb that which is in the waters it grows in. Therefore, sea moss growing in waters high in heavy metal content may themselves be high in heavy metals such as copper, nickel, lead, and mercury.

As well, seaweed and sea moss contain high levels of iodine which differ greatly depending on where the moss or plants were harvested. Though iodine is an essential mineral integral to a healthy functioning thyroid, the human body does have the capacity to become overdosed with iodine. This in itself can cause complications.

The key is to use sea moss in moderation and consult a medical professional if you have any concerns over this.

Environmental Implications of the Sea Moss Craze

Source: Paul Otote/YouTube

While all the nutritional and health-promoting properties of sea moss can be quite alluring, as with many things, we need to take a moment to consider the impact our demand for sea moss may be having on the environment.

The main things to consider are where and how your sea moss was grown and harvested.

Wildcrafted Sea Moss- This simply means that the sea moss was harvested from its natural environment in the ocean. Taking sea moss directly from nature without any human intervention means that the nutritional value of the sea moss might be higher.

That said, excessively taking from nature to meet consumerist demand may have an unsustainable impact on the ocean floors and marine ecosystems as the colony can not be replenished at the same rate of harvesting. As well, as demand increases, there could be an impact on local communities that traditionally use sea moss in their diets. Remember what happened with quinoa?

Source: Dydy Views Food/YouTube

Open Ocean Organically Farmed Sea Moss- Ocean-farmed sea moss is thought to be of a similarly high standard and has equal nutritional value as wildcrafted sea moss. Sea moss is typically grown on ropes and nets in the ocean. It is also thought to be more sustainable as it can be replenished and grown more sustainably.

Pool-Farmed Sea Moss- Here, sea moss is grown in tanks where attempts are made to create ocean-like conditions. Everything from wave movement, temperature, and salinity of the water is synthesized in hope of replicating the ‘ideal’ growing conditions.

This form of sea moss is often deemed ‘fake’ on the Internet. That in itself can have damaging implications as more people demand wildcrafted. That said, it is widely thought that pool-farmed sea moss does not hold nearly the same nutritional prowess as its ocean-grown counterparts.

There is also the chance that in the highly ‘manufactured’ world of pool-farmed sea moss, chemicals or non-organic fertilizers may have been used.

This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Consult a medical professional before using plants and herbs medicinally.

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