Sea kelp, also known as seaweed, has long been touted as a natural remedy for a number of ailments. The benefits of sea kelp are indisputable, although there are questions about the extent of its effectiveness. Packaged in a number of formulations and dosages, sea kelp is widely available and fairly safe for use in most people. It contains nutrients and minerals that can supplement the diet and enhance health.
According to allstarhealth.com, kelp is “a sea vegetable” that is related to brown algae. It grows in nearly all the major oceans of the world. Several varieties of kelp exist, including rockweed, laminaria and bladderwrack, the three most common types of sea kelp used in supplements. Sea kelp comes in liquid and powder forms, but tablets and capsules remain the most popular supplement choice.
Sea kelp provides a number of essential vitamins and minerals. In the article “The Many Unknown Benefits of Kelp,” author S. Wagner says kelp “is more important to our bodies than the average person knows.” Among the valuable minerals sea kelp supplies are iodine, salt, iron, potassium, phosphorus and calcium. The vitamins sea kelp supplies include vitamin A and niacin, along with a healthy dose of protein. As a highly alkaline substance, sea kelp can also help restore the optimum pH levels in the body.
Because it is an excellent source of iodine, sea kelp can improve thyroid function, potentially increasing metabolism and energy and decreasing weight gain. The iodine, calcium and other minerals in sea kelp are easily absorbed by the body, aiding in digestion and correcting relevant mineral deficiencies. Some experts in the natural healing field believe sea kelp can have additional benefits, including increased immunity and enhanced brain development. Anecdotal evidence supports osteoporosis prevention and alleviation of impotence and anemia, but these effects have not been officially documented.
The iodine content of sea kelp can cause a powerful effect on the thyroid, especially when sea kelp is consumed in large amounts. People with thyroid conditions or a history of thyroid problems should consult a physician before trying any kelp-based product. Sea kelp tablets and other kelp products can potentially interact with other natural supplements and prescription or over-the-counter medications, so consult a doctor, pharmacist or natural health expert before mixing supplements and/or medications.
Certain groups do not respond well to kelp-based products. Sea kelp supplements are known to cause nausea and/or diarrhea in some people. If you experience negative effects, allstarhealth.com recommends that you discontinue use or switch to a lower dosage supplement. Pregnant or nursing women should avoid sea kelp supplements, as their safety in these situations has not been tested.