Seaweed is filled with antioxidants, calcium, and a broad range of vitamins, but that doesn’t begin to scratch the slippery brown surface of this fascinating food. Seaweed’s best-known benefit is that it is an extraordinary source of a nutrient missing in almost every other food: iodine . Consuming healthy levels of iodine is critically important to maintaining a healthy thyroid, a gland in your neck which helps produce and regulate hormones. A malfunctioning thyroid can result in a wide range of symptoms such as fatigue, muscle weakness, and high cholesterol (to name a few). In severe or untreated cases, it can lead to serious medical conditions like goiters (a swelling of the thyroid gland), heart palpitations, and impaired memory.

Since manufacturers started adding iodine to salt in the 1920s and the World Health Organization adopted a worldwide salt iodization program in 1993, symptoms of extreme iodine deficiency have largely disappeared. However, for a host of reasons, including iodine-blocking chemicals in our environment, the poor quality (i.e. iodine-free) salt used in processed foods, and a general trend of salt-ophobia among health conscious folks, mild iodine deficiency is once again becoming increasingly common.

The benefits of this sea green extend far beyond basic nutrition: Research suggests seaweed can also help regulate estrogen and estradiol levels — two hormones responsible for proper development and function of sexual organs — potentially reducing the risk of breast cancer . In fact, some claim Japan’s high seaweed consumption is responsible for the country’s conspicuously low incidence of the diseases . For the same reasons, seaweed may also help to control PMS (men, rejoice!) and improve female fertility issues .

And many studies studies have shown seaweed is an extraordinarily potent source of antioxidants and also helps prevent inflammation, which can contribute to a host of ailments that include arthritis, celiac disease, asthma, depression, and obesity

The trouble with mild iodine deficiency is that it can manifest very subtly. Fatigue, depression, a higher susceptibility to diseases, difficulty losing weight — these can all result from an underactive thyroid, and if the symptoms sound a little familiar, it’s not hard to test yourself. But if you’re keen to avoid thyroid drama (which, by the way, is especially important if you’re pregnant), noshing on some seaweed could help: One gram of brown seaweed contains roughly five to 50 times the recommended daily intake, while red and green varieties provide slightly less (the exact iodine content depends on the water in which it’s grown). Bellow you can find more information about the different types of seaweed and their benefits.

Ascophyllum nodosum

This is a large, common brown alga (Phaeophyceae) in the family Fucaceae, being the only species in the genusAscophyllum. It is seaweed of the northern Atlantic Ocean, and is also known as rockweed, Norwegian kelp, knotted kelp, knotted wrack or egg wrack. It is common on the north-western coast of Europe (from Svalbard to Portugal) including east Greenland and the north-eastern coast of North America. Seagreens® Ascophyllum nodosum is sourced from the Scottish Outer Hebrides and is the highest of Seagreens’® species in terms of iodine levels – typically 700mcg iodine per 1g.

Ascophyllum nodosum contains both macro-nutrients (e.g. nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulphur) and micro-nutrients (e.g. manganese, copper, iron, zinc etc). It is also a source of cytokinins, auxin-like gibberellins, betaines, mannitol, organic acids, polysaccharides, amino acids and proteins.

Fucus vesiculosus

Known by the common name bladder wrack or bladderwrack, Fucus vesiculosus is a seaweed found on the coasts of the North Sea, the western Baltic Sea and the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It also known by the common names black tang, rockweed, bladder fucus, sea oak, black tany, cut weed, dyers fucus, red fucus and rock wrack.

It contains mucilage, algin, mannitol, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, bromine, potassium, volatile oils, iodine and other minerals. It was actually the original source of iodine, discovered in 1811.

Overall, seaweeds form an essential source of natural iodine and are described as an ideal food-safe natural source of this important mineral.

Iodine in seaweeds

Iodine in seaweeds contributes to:

  • the normal growth of children
  • normal cognitive function
  • normal energy-yielding metabolism
  • normal functioning of the nervous system
  • the maintenance of normal skin
  • the normal production of thyroid hormones and normal thyroid function.

The iodine also has the added benefit of being sourced from seaweed that naturally contains all of the other minerals and micronutrients needed for its proper transport and metabolism (including selenium, tyrosine, zinc, copper, vitamins A, B2, B3, B6 and C).

As most iodine is from dairy and meat, this is ideal for vegan, vegetarian, allergy and intolerance diets.

Suggested Properties

Nourishing and soothing, stimulates the thyroid gland, anti-hypothyroid, thyroactive, anti-obesic, antirheumatic, demulcent, gentle metabolic stimulant, nutritive, adaptagen, thyroid tonic, anti-inflammatory

Uses

A nourishing tonic. Obesity with tiredness and dry skin. Cellulite, chronic dry skin and stubborn constipation. Regular use delays the progress of arthritis and hardening of the arteries. A good tonic for old age. For children with slow mental and physical development.

Indicated for

Myxoedema, lymphadenoid goitre, obesity, rheumatism, rheumatoid arthritis.

Because of the high iodine content bladderwrack should be used according to the directions and anyone with thyroid problems should consult their doctor. Start with 1 to 2 capsules per day.

Avoid in overactive thyroid conditions such as hyperthyroidism or cardiac problems and/or during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Not recommended for children under 5.

Spirulina
Spirulina is a blue-green microalgae. It contains between 55 and 70% protein, 8 essential and 10 non-essential amino acids, as well as gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), beta-carotene, linoleic acid, arachidonic acid, vitamin K, pantothenic acid, magnesium, potassium, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, iron, copper, manganese, nucleic acids RNA and DNA, chlorophyll and phycocyanin (a pigment-protein complex that is found only in blue-green algae).

Chlorella
An edible, single-cell marine algae (a sea-moss or sea lettuce), chlorella contains chlorophyll, vitamin B12, beta-carotene, polyunsaturated fatty acids and 19 amino acids (including the 8 essential amino acids). It is also a source of calcium, iron, selenium and zinc. Studies have shown that chlorella benefits the entire body by supporting healthy hormonal function, promoting cardiovascular health, helping to negate the effects of chemotherapy and radiation, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and aiding in the detoxification of our bodies.

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