Last modified on June 14th, 2023
I love learning about health and nutrition supplements, and so I’ve been especially interested in one that’s very popular right now, which is sea moss.
You’ll also sometimes see it written as seamoss. I decided to do a little research and provide you with an in-depth guide to all things sea moss since it’s a supplement that’s trending.
What Is Sea Moss?
Sea moss is a vegetable from the ocean and is used in health supplements and a thickener in commercial food items.
The scientific name is Chondrus crispus. It’s technically seaweed or algae.
You can find it growing naturally in the Atlantic, between Europe and North America. It’s similar to something like kelp or other forms of seaweed, both of which are edible. Sea moss can be green, purple, red, yellow, black, or brown.
One of the most common types is Irish sea moss, which is usually red in color and tends to thrive in warmer water.
So why would something like this be used as a supplement? Well, it’s packed with vitamins and minerals.
It is thought to have some of the following benefits, which we’ll also talk about in more detail below:
- Immune system support
- Antioxidant benefits
- Anti-tumor and anti-cancer effects
- Prevention of high blood pressure
- Blood sugar control
It’s high in proteins, amino acids, peptides, and lipids.
If you were to take a 20-gram serving of Irish sea moss, just as an example, you’d get magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, copper, and iodine. Iodine is a micronutrient essential for thyroid health. It’s low in fat and calories in addition to having vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
It also contains folate and riboflavin.
Sea Moss Benefits
Below we go into more detail about the benefits.
So many people struggle with thyroid issues, including hypothyroidism. The thyroid is an organ that plays an essential role in your metabolism, hormones, and even the regulation of bodily functions like breathing. The thyroid controls aspects of your body weight and temperature, menstrual cycles, and heart rate.
One thing that can lead to thyroid dysfunction is hypothyroidism and enlargement of the thyroid gland. When someone has hypothyroidism, their thyroid underperforms.
There are a variety of reasons for hypothyroidism, but one contributing factor may be a mineral deficiency. Taking sea moss might be good for the thyroid because it contains many minerals, including iodine but others, like selenium and iron.
Iodine is required for proper thyroid function, and it’s also essential for the functioning of the immune system.
The iodine it contains is considered highlight bioavailable, meaning your body can absorb and use it perhaps better than supplemental iodine.
There is research showing that sea moss can help with thyroid-related symptoms like changes in mood, weight fluctuations, and appetite changes.
Iodine deficiency is a growing problem worldwide. Table salt has iodine, which helps, but many people now use sea salt instead, which doesn’t have iodine. Around 30% of people in the world are thought to be at risk of iodine deficiency.
One big benefit of taking sea moss is a stronger immune system. This occurs through multiple pathways.
It has potassium chloride, which reduces inflammation. Reduced inflammation helps your immune system stay strong and reduces the risk of developing infections.
Research published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology found that sea moss can reduce the expression of virulence factors. Virulence factors are molecules produced by viruses, bacteria, and fungi.
Research has indicated sea moss can improve immune response as well as immune modulation.
Sea moss may help clear your respiratory and lymphatic systems if you have sinus or respiratory or respiratory issues. It serves as a natural decongestant and has antimicrobial properties. It may help dissolve mucus and also reduce swelling.
We are learning that problems with our guts’ health lead to many other health issues and may even cause mental health symptoms.
When you can repair and strengthen the health of your gut, you’re likely to notice a host of other benefits.
Sea moss has prebiotic effects, so it’s good for the gut. Prebiotics are fibers that are food for the friendly bacteria in your gut.
Studies have also shown that it might help reduce your risk of obesity by improving the specific types of bacteria found there.
Some people find that sea moss helps them lose weight because it contains carrageenan, which can improve feelings of fullness, reduce body fat, and create a healthier microbiota profile in your gut.
The gel has a texture that can heal and soothe your GI system and your other mucus membranes.
If you deal with anemia because of iron deficiency, think about incorporating sea moss into your daily routine. It has a lot of iron and is also plant-based.
There are around nine milligrams of iron per 100 grams. That’s about nine times more iron than is in chicken.
When you supplement, if you were anemic due to iron deficiency, you may start to notice that you have more energy. Iron helps your body create the red blood cells that move oxygen from your lungs to every cell of your body.
Taking sea moss can improve the appearance and health of your skin because it has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. It is also high in nutrients that play a vital role in the health of your skin, including vitamin A, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids.
It’s hydrating for your skin, can help with infections, and can prevent free radical damage.
Blood Sugar Control
It can help people with blood sugar control and diabetes in several different ways.
First, we are starting to learn more about the relationship between diabetes and zinc. People who are zinc-deficient are more likely to have diabetes. Sea moss is high in zinc and can correct a deficiency.
It also has iodine. Studies have shown that when you have low thyroid hormone levels, you’re more likely to struggle with diabetes, so taking sea moss can help indirectly with diabetes in this way.
Many people are magnesium deficient, and this is something else sea moss is high in. Magnesium can help with diabetes control, and it can reduce the likelihood of developing diabetes.
Magnesium is important for hundreds of bodily processes, even outside of helping with blood sugar control, and a lot of people don’t get enough in their diet.
Symptoms of low magnesium can include chronic fatigue, sleep problems, headaches, shakiness, and high blood pressure.
There’s also something in sea moss called fucoxanthin. It’s a carotenoid found in Irish sea moss, in particular, that’s responsible for the red-brown color.
Studies show that fucoxanthin may help regulate blood sugar levels and help your body respond more effectively to insulin. You might be able to prevent blood sugar spikes if you have diabetes.
There was a study published in 2015 that found red algae, which is a type of sea moss, can help protect your brain and central nervous system. The preliminary research was done on worms, so a lot more research needs to be done, but it did show that sea moss helped reduced neuron loss.
There’s the potential that it could help protect against neurological disease.
There are a lot of ways that sea moss could potentially help with weight loss.
First, it has a high protein content, which can help you build lean muscle and feel fuller for longer.
It has carrageenan, which is a thickening agent that is also soluble fiber. Carrageenan can help you feel full for a long time.
Plus, since it’s a prebiotic and helps your gut stay healthy, it might improve your digestive health overall, supporting weight loss.
If you struggle to lose weight because of a thyroid disorder like hypothyroidism, sea moss could be helpful there, too, due to the fact that it contains iodine.
Heavy Metal Detox
There’s something in sea moss called algin. Algin is a phytonutrient. It can help your body detox from heavy metals.
Heavy metals are all around in our water, soil, air, and food supply. Chronic, low-level heavy metal exposure is linked to a range of health problems including psychiatric disorders, chronic infections, infertility, migraines and more.
Sea moss may help remove those heavy metals from your body and reduce your toxic burden.
Taking a sea moss supplement may be a way to give your hair growth a boost. If you take it orally, it is high in vitamin E. Vitamin E is important for hair growth and protects against oxidative stress. Oxidative stress contributes to hair loss.
Anemia can also lead to hair loss, while sea moss can reverse anemia and iron deficiency symptoms.
You can apply it topically to your scalp too, and it will be moisturizing.
While there’s no way to say for sure right now that sea moss could lower your risk of developing cancer, there is some promising research thanks to the presence of carotenoids like fucoxanthin. Carotenoids are antioxidants that combat free radical damage.
When free radicals are out of control, they can damage your cells. Damaged cells become cancer cells.
By consuming antioxidants like those in this product, you might lower your risk of cancer.
Around 12% of women in the U.S. between ages 15 to 44 have problems getting or staying pregnant. In male-female couples, more than one-third both have problems contributing to difficulties having a biological child.
There are some claims that sea moss, particularly red seaweed, could help with infertility.
It has long been used in the Caribbean as a sexual enhancement and libido booster for men, and some say that it helps improve sperm count and testosterone.
For women, the fertility benefits may be more associated with the nutrients. For example, the B vitamins, calcium, zinc, and iodine all play an integral role in fertility and can help speed up how long it takes you to get pregnant.
The nutritional profile is really the biggest of all the benefits. Our bodies tend to assimilate vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients more effectively when they come from food sources. Sea moss can be a food when it’s added to smoothies or recipes.
A few notes about the benefits of sea moss as far as fertility:
- It’ high in folate. A 100-gram serving has 182 micrograms of folate, which is almost half the daily recommendation. Folate has been shown to improve pregnancy rates.
- It contains zinc which can improve the quality of eggs, and it’s recommended that you make sure you’re getting enough zinc if you’re actively trying to conceive.
- Iodine deficiency can lead to hypothyroidism, which can negatively impact fertility, but iodine can help with hypothyroidism.
While more research is likely to be done in the future as far as benefits for fertility, right now, it’s not a miracle cure but it is a healthy option you can add to your routine with specific nutrients that are shown to help with fertility and pregnancy.
Mental and Emotional Health
Among the potential benefits are positive mental and emotional health effects.
Sea moss benefits might extend to mental health because it’s high in potassium. Potassium can improve mental functioning and even improve the behavior of children with ADHD.
High-potassium foods are also good for anxiety and depression disorders, agitation, and fibromyalgia.
Benefits also come from the high B-vitamin content. B vitamins support a healthy nervous system and reduce stress.
Kim Kardashian’s Smoothie
If you’re wondering why sea moss seemed to come out of nowhere and take over as the hottest nutritional supplement, you might thank the Kardashians.
The Kardashians are known for always trying out all the newest food-related health trends. Kim showed her breakfast on a social media post, and it included a sea moss smoothie, along with the caption “plant-based life.”
While Kardashian might have brought sea moss to the mainstream, at least in the eyes of her social media followers, it really is a nutrient-packed item worth trying.
How Do You Use It?
One notable thing is how versatile it is. There are a lot of ways you can use it.
You can find capsules and tablets if you want something easy. You can also use it in smoothies, soups, and stews.
If you were going to cook with it, you would first wash it and then soak it in cold water. You must soak it for a full day, so give yourself time. After you soak it, it will double in size and has a gelatinous texture. Then, add it to a blender along with some water, and blend until your result is a honey-colored, thick liquid.
After you prepare gel, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks and add it to smoothies and recipes, or simply eat it.
It doesn’t have much flavor, which helps it be versatile enough to add to almost any recipe without it affecting taste.
You can use sea moss topically for your skin and hair.
For example, if you make a gel, then you can put it on as a mask and rinse it off after a few minutes. You’ll only need around two tablespoons for a mask. Benefits include helping reduce bacteria and inflammation on the skin, which can reduce breakouts and help your skin glow.
You shouldn’t take too much if you’re taking it orally. The recommended amount is around one to two tablespoons a day of gel. If you take capsules, follow the dosage guidelines from the brand. If you’re using a tincture, which is another way to take it you might take a dose of around three droppers once daily.
Where Do You Buy It?
You might be able to find dried sea moss or capsules or pills at a health food store in your local area. For example, we did some research and found that Vitamin Shoppe has capsules and stocks them in many of their local stores.
It’s more common to buy it online, however. There are a lot of options on Amazon, or you can buy things like gel on Etsy.
You can also find sites that specialize in selling just sea moss.
Are There Any Risks or Side Effects?
Overall, sea moss is considered fairly safe. However, you should talk to your doctor before you take it.
Also, you might be unable to use it if you’re on anticoagulants or have very low blood pressure. It can interact with these conditions and medicines and worsen side effects.
There isn’t a lot of clinical research in humans so far to look at how effective sea moss is and what the risks could be, although it’s likely that there will be more in the future because of its growing popularity.
There’s also a big caveat to using it. You need to be careful that you’re not taking too much iodine.
Yes, sea moss is a good source of iodine, and iodine is important for thyroid health. However, if you have too much iodine, it can also lead to thyroid problems including an underactive thyroid.
If you have an existing thyroid disorder, you should talk to your doctor about your iodine intake. You should also go over any other supplements you take or sources of iodine you get to make sure you’re not overdoing it.
If you consume too much iodine, you could experience thyroid gland inflammation. You can also experience symptoms like nausea and vomiting.
Of course, it would take quite a bit of sea moss for you to experience negative iodine effects, but it’s still something to be mindful of.
The FDA recommends having no more than 225 micrograms of iodine daily. If you were to have anywhere from two to four tablespoons of sea moss daily, you would be within that recommended amount.
Using Bladderwrack with Sea Moss
Some supplements combine it with bladderwrack. This has been done for thousands of years in traditional medicine. Bladderwrack is also a type of seaweed. It’s a brown seaweed that’s native to the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the North and Baltic Seas.
In traditional medicine, bladderwrack is used for the treatment of iodine deficiency, thyroid dysfunction, goiters, and digestive issues. Bladderwrack is also high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
A word of caution here—if you were going to see bladderwrack with sea moss, which some people do because they feel the benefits are synergistic, you need to be especially careful not to get too much iodine. It can negatively affect your thyroid levels.
How Should You Choose a Supplement?
The two main options for taking sea moss are either in capsule form or as a gel, which you can buy or make.
The gel is made by soaking it until it swells and blending it. Gel can last in the refrigerator for up to three weeks as long as it’s sealed. It takes time to make your own gel, and then if you don’t take it on its own, you’ll have to make recipes to blend it into which is also time-consuming.
The benefit of gel is that first, you know what you’re getting. You can physically see your sea moss, and you know if you make the gel yourself, you’re not getting a lot of fillers. It can also add a creamy texture to recipes, and if you can’t swallow pills or don’t prefer to, then gel is probably a good option for you.
You may get more bioavailability with capsules than with the gel. You’ll need less to get the same health benefits. You’re also going to get consistency as far as your dosage.
Probably the biggest advantage of capsules over gel is that it’s more convenient, and you can transport them if you need to, plus there’s no prep time required. Capsules have a longer shelf life too.
The decision of a gel versus capsules depends on your individual preferences and your lifestyle, as well as how much time you’re willing to dedicate to taking it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are brief answers to some of the most common questions people tend to have about this product.
What Is Sea Moss?
It’s a type of seaweed or algae. It can be taken as a supplement or mixed into foods as a thickener. Sea moss has vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants. You can find commercially available supplements in different forms.
For example, you can find it in raw form, and then you can use it to make your own gel. Sea moss is also available as a pre-made gel, a powder, a capsule, or even a gummy.
People use it for joint, digestive, thyroid, and immune health and to improve fertility.
What is Sea Moss Good For?
Some of the purported health benefits and reasons people use it include:
- Thyroid health because it’s rich in iodine. Iodine is a micronutrient that your body needs for optimal thyroid function.
- Immune health and modulation.
- Better gut health. It has live bacteria and fiber, both of which can support a healthy gut microbiome. Sea moss gel can also coat the stomach and help with leaky gut.
- Weight loss. It is high in fiber and can help you feel fuller for longer to reduce overeating. Sea moss also has something called fucoxanthin, which is good for metabolism.
- Heart health. There’s some evidence sea moss can reduce bad cholesterol, and it has blood-thinning properties, both of which are good for heart health.
- While there’s limited research on the topic, some people feel it helps with male and female fertility, and traditionally it’s been used for that reason.
- It contains nutrients, including B vitamins, chromium, magnesium, calcium, and potassium.
- Skin and hair health. It can be ingested or applied topically and may help improve the health and appearance of skin and hair.
- Eliminate excess mucus. Sea moss seems to be especially helpful in reducing congestion and clearing the lungs.
How to Prepare It?
You can make it easy for yourself and use it in capsule form. You can also buy the raw form, soak it in water for a day, then blend it to create a gel.
That gel can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. The gel can be used for baking, added to soups and stews, included in smoothies, or taken on its own.
What Does It Taste Like?
One reason sea moss is so versatile is that it has very minimal taste, if any at all. The gel can be added to a variety of recipes, and you shouldn’t notice it aside from the fact that it could make the texture thicker or creamier.
What Is Irish Sea Moss?
Irish sea moss is a specific type that’s also called Chondrus crispus. It’s not really moss. Instead, it’s a type of seaweed. Irish sea moss is red, and it’s most often found in the Atlantic Ocean in Europe and North America.
How Do You Use It?
If you buy capsules, you’d just take it like any other nutritional supplement, following dosage instructions.
If you buy raw sea moss, you can turn it into a gel, and there are a lot of ways to use the gel form. Since it’s basically flavorless, you can easily add it to drinks, soups, and other recipes. You can also use it in smoothies or as a face or hair mask.
How Do You Store the Gel?
If you make or buy sea moss gel, you should store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you keep it in an airtight container, you might be able to get about a month’s use out of it, but this is pushing it. The recommendation is usually that you take it all within two to three weeks or throw it out.
You can freeze sea moss or put it in an ice cube tray and then put the cubes directly into smoothies.
If you have dry sea moss, which is raw and not yet soaked, you can store it for up to a year in an airtight container in a place that’s cool and dark.
How Long to Soak Sea Moss?
If you’re going to make gel, you’ll take the raw product and cover it in a large bowl with filtered water. You want to cover every part and soak it anywhere from 12 to 24 hours. You can leave the it at room temperature while you soak it.
Where Can You Buy Sea Moss?
You can buy this product online at retailers like Amazon. You might also be able to find it at local health food stores, and the Vitamin Shoppe has sea moss in capsule form.
How Much Should You Take Daily?
The recommendation is to take no more than one to two tablespoons daily.
What Are the Side Effects?
The biggest possible side effect would come from taking too much iodine. Iodine is important to our health, especially our thyroid, but it is possible to have too much. If you don’t watch your dosage and take too much iodine, it can cause or worsen hypothyroid, which is an underactive thyroid.
Some have also expressed concerns that sea moss could expose you to heavy metals because seaweed does absorb heavy metals in relatively high amounts. This hasn’t been proven in research, however.
A study looked at eight types of seaweed, measured 20 heavy metals in them, and found that the amount didn’t pose any health risk.
While Kim Kardashian might have made it Insta-famous, sea moss has actually been used in traditional medicine for a long time. It can have health benefits, although there’s still a lot we don’t know. It is nutrient-rich and can be a source of protein and amino acids for vegans.
Choosing a reputable vendor is important if you’re considering taking a supplement or using gel. You should also talk to a healthcare professional before taking any supplements.