When choosing a new supplement, I look for a short list of ingredients. I like to see a list of words that I can read and understand because that usually means it’s a natural product that won’t upset my stomach. So when a product called sea moss gel popped up on my computer — and it claimed to contain only four all-natural ingredients — I knew I had to try it out for myself.
However, I was not sure what To do with that! Was I supposed to eat it or put it on my skin, like a face mask? Can I eat it raw? What about health benefits? To answer these questions and more, I did a little digging myself and spoke with Dr. Jerry Bailey, board-certified nutritionist, acupuncturist, chiropractic, and functional medicine physician at Lakeside Holistic Health.
What is Sea Moss Gel?
Sea moss, often called Irish moss, red algae or carrageenan (scientific name: Chondrus crispus), is a species of red algae. It grows along rocky shores, such as the Atlantic coast of the British Isles. (Not to be confused with Sagina subulata, a form of green moss also called Irish moss.)
Sea moss gel is simply sea moss mixed with water to form a gel-like mixture. In this form and in powder form, it is more appetizing (for me!), and becomes the perfect smoothie complement. As for its flavor, people say it has an earthy or “underwater” taste similar to clams and oysters, although most agree that it is mild.
Sea moss can improve your thyroid health.
The vitamins and minerals in sea moss gel vary from product to product, especially because different companies add different ingredients. Yet the sea moss itself is an excellent source of iodine. Additionally, some sources claim that it contains 92 of the 102 essential minerals our bodies need to function.
Why is iodine so important? “Our bodies don’t make iodine,” says Dr. Bailey. “We have to take it from our food sources. Iodine is the key component in the manufacture of thyroid hormone… Without iodine, we do not manufacture our thyroid hormones. This leads to hypothyroidism.
Other nutrients in sea moss gel — like iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and copper — are also important for thyroid health. “The other minerals in sea moss are essential not only for thyroid health, but also for the overall health of your body,” says Bailey. “We tend not to eat enough vegetables in our typical diet, leading to mineral intake depletion.”
Sea moss can improve your gut health.
If you want to improve the health and functioning of your digestive tract, eat a spoonful of sea moss gel daily. Algae like sea moss contain prebiotics or indigestible foods that promote the growth of “good” gut bacteria. They also contain live beneficial bacteria and lots of fiber.
“Research on sea moss shows that it is a good source of additional fiber for the diet and has excellent levels of live bacteria for the gastrointestinal tract,” says Bailey.
Sea moss gel can promote healthy weight loss.
Let’s be clear: not all weight loss is healthy, especially if you lose weight too quickly. However, losing weight slowly and steadily through healthy lifestyle changes can help improve your overall health. And sea moss gel can be part of that healthy transition.
“There is a compound in marine mass called fucoxanthin [an antioxidant]Bailey shares. Fucoxanthin promotes fat metabolism in a few rat studies (in which rat species are used to compare to human metabolism.) So we can make the educated guess that you might have a weight loss benefit by adding sea moss to the feed.
Bacteria can also be there for something. “The bacteria associated with sea moss also have benefits for the gastrointestinal tract,” Bailey continues. “By adding beneficial bacteria to the diet, [you] can boost digestion and immune function in the gastrointestinal tract.
How much sea moss should you eat per day?
Bailey recommends eating between one and four tablespoons (about 4 to 8 grams) of powdered sea moss daily. If you eat it in gel form, one to two tablespoons is enough.
“You can also eat dry or fresh moss,” adds Bailey. “With fresh produce, it’s best to eat it a few days after purchase or harvest to avoid potential foodborne illness issues.”
Who shouldn’t eat sea moss?
“If you have hyperthyroidism (Graves’ disease), you need to be careful not to take extra iodine,” warns Bailey. “The increase in iodine can lead to increased thyroid production which you don’t want to have with hyperthyroidism.
“Also, if you are sensitive to heavy metal issues [such as gastrointestinal issues]you should not [want to] take plenty of sea moss. Also be sure to check that the brand you are using tests for heavy metal contamination. This will eliminate the risk of increasing the burden of these heavy metals on your body.
It is true that sea foam can easily absorb and store heavy metals. Fortunately, however, the risk of toxicity is low and brands are transparent about whether they test for contamination.
Here’s What I Thought About Sea Moss Gel
Hoping to find a tasty sea foam option, I tried Pineapple Sea Foam Gel (Purchased at The Transformation Factory, $32.99). I liked this brand because the gel only had four ingredients: sea moss, agave, pineapple, and lemon. The consistency was a cross between Jell-O and applesauce – so if you’re not a fan of spongy food consistencies, better eat this mixed in with something else!
The flavor impressed me; it was slightly sweet and pineapple-y, with strong acidity. I tried blending it into a smoothie with frozen pineapple chunks and coconut milk, and it was delicious!
Bonus: I found out that you can use sea moss as a face mask! Transformation Factory suggests mixing the gel with turmeric powder.
Don’t wait to finish the pot. Since it contains no preservatives (aside from lemon), this sea moss gel expires in about three weeks. Who knew seaweed could be such a healthy addition to our treats?
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