Sea Moss: A Guide

You may have seen sea moss in the latest weight loss and superfood fads on the internet. Sometimes called Irish moss.

What Is Sea Moss?

Chondrus crispus is the scientific name for seamoss. It is a red alga that grows along the Atlantic coast of North America, Europe, and the British Isles. It is a small, frilly, or spiky seaweed that looks similar to red leaf lettuce. However, it can be found in many colors, from yellow-green to deep purple.

Carrageenan is the main ingredient of sea moss. It is a gelatinous substance that thickens a range of foods including infant formula and processed meats. Carrageenan can also be used in cosmetics, medications, and other uses.

The use of sea moss for its purported medicinal and nutritional benefits has been a tradition. Sea moss gained popularity after World War II’s agar shortages. It is now a popular replacement food thickener, emulsifier, and thickener.

Sea moss is now used in some of these same wellness products. While there may be merit to some of the claims, research is limited so sea moss might not be suitable for everyone.

Sea Moss Nutrition Facts

Sea moss has iron and phosphorus and is calorie-free. Here are the nutrition facts for sea moss 2 tablespoons (tbsp).

  • Calories: 5
  • Total fat: 0.02 g (g).
  • Protein: 0.2g
  • Carbohydrates: 1.2g
  • Dietary fiber: 0.13g
  • Sugars: 0.06g
  • Calcium: 7.2 mg (mg).
  • Iron: 0.89mg
  • Magnesium: 14.4mg
  • Potassium: 6.3mg
  • Vitamin A: 0.6 micrograms (mcg)
  • Vitamin C: 0.3mg
  • Vitamin K: 0.5mcg

Robin Foroutan RDN, a registered dietitian at The Morrison Center in New York City, said that sea moss is notable for its high iodine content.

Foroutan says that there are many chemical compounds that can block iodine in the environment. He also adds that this mineral is vital for thyroid function. Iodine is essential for the body to produce thyroid hormones which can affect metabolism. 

People who are pregnant or on a dairy-free or vegan diet are more likely not to get enough iodine. Thyroid hormones are important for healthy brain development and bone health in pregnancy and infancy.

Sea Moss Side Effects

These potential benefits sound wonderful and sea moss is nutritionally appealing, but there are also some health risks.

Carrageenan, the main ingredient of carrageenan, is a concern. Gillespie says that although research on carrageenan’s effects is sparse and conflicting, some studies have suggested that there may be a link between carrageenan side effects such as inflammation and digestive problems like bloating. 

Experts believe that sea moss may be beneficial for digestive health, due to its fiber content and live bacteria. Further research is required to determine if sea moss may be linked with digestive problems.

Seaweed, including sea moss, is a concern that may adversely affect your thyroid health. Gillespie says that excessive iodine intake or its combination with iodine-containing foods can cause iodine toxicities. Too much iodine can cause thyroid dysfunction. Many endocrinologists recommend that you avoid iodine supplementation unless it is absolutely necessary.

Sea Moss Forms

Sea moss supplements are available in many forms:

  • Capsules
  • Gummies
  • Powders
  • Gel
  • Whole dried sea moss (sold under the name red seaweed or red alga)

Sea moss powders, capsules, and gummies can be purchased at most supplement shops. Whole red seaweed is available at certain online and health food shops. You can also find sea moss gel in some health food stores or make your own sea moss from dried sea moss.

Sea Moss Capsule Dosage

Sea moss capsules are not safe to consume. A study found that sea moss gel capsules containing up to 4 grams of red seaweed and sea moss per day are unlikely to cause any adverse effects on health. 

Researchers also discovered that 286g per day of Irish moss could cause excess iodine intake. If you’d like to add sea moss capsules to your health routine, consult an integrative physician or a registered dietitian-nutritionist.

Do I Need To Take A Sea Moss Supplement?

Although it is possible to eat Irish moss raw, adverse effects are unlikely. It is best to consult your healthcare provider before you take Irish moss supplements.

Gillespie says, “Honestly, these supplements shouldn’t be necessary if you eat a healthy diet rich in a variety of foods.” This supplement has its risks. It is better to get nutritional benefits from whole foods sources.

How To Add Sea Moss Gel And Dried Sea Moss To Your Diet

Foroutan states that sea moss is neutral in flavor and can be mixed into many other foods. However, it will alter the texture of some dishes by making them thicker.

Traditional fortified beverage in Ireland and the Caribbean that combines whole seamless, warm milk, sugar, spices, and other ingredients.

You can also try this recipe from The Urben Life for Vegan Jamaican Irish Sea Moss drink. It combines sea moss gel and dairy-free milk with dates for sweetness. Vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg add a hint of spice.

How To Use Sea Moss In Your Skin Care Routine

What are ‘Natural Skin Care Products and How Can They Benefit You?

Lal says that even though seaweed may not sound appealing, it can still be beneficial for your skin. Lal recommends that you make a face mask using gel and water. According to his clinical experience, the mask can be used to soothe acne, facial dandruff, and rosacea as well as facial psoriasis. However, there is not much research on sea moss’ effectiveness in treating these conditions.

Sea moss gel can also be used as a base for making fun DIY skin care products. Six recipes from the sustainability-focused blog Treehugger combine sea moss gel with skin-loving ingredients like honey, charcoal, and aloe vera for 10 to 30-minute skin care treatments.

Summary

Sea moss is well-known for its nutritional benefits, prebiotic profile, and antioxidant properties. However, there is very little research on the specific medical and health benefits of sea moss. It can be used as a gel to thicken foods and increase certain nutrients.