Irish sea moss has been making waves as a superfood

7 Benefits of Sea Moss

By: Sonali Ruder, DO

Scientifically Reviewed By: Michael A. Smith, MD

Sea moss has been making waves in the wellness world. From traditional regimens to trendy superfood status, sea moss boasts a rich nutritional profile. It features essential minerals, vitamins, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.

But does sea moss truly live up to the hype, and is it the best support for thyroid health? Let's unravel its potential benefits and discover if this marine marvel deserves a spot in your daily routine.

What is sea moss?

Sea moss, scientifically known as Chondrus crispus, is a type of red algae that grows in the Atlantic Ocean along the rocky coasts of North America, the British Isles and Europe. It thrives in cold, turbulent waters and has a vibrant red or purple color.

Also referred to as Irish moss, Irish sea moss or red seaweed, this marine plant is commonly harvested for its carrageenan, a gel-like substance found in its cell walls. Carrageenan is used as a natural thickener and stabilizer in many foods like ice cream, processed meats, and pudding. Carrageenan is also used in place of gelatin in vegetarian and vegan-friendly foods.

Sea moss has been part of traditional wellness and cuisine for centuries in many cultures—but not because of carrageenan. It's been called a superfood thanks to its rich nutritional profile and health benefits. It's packed with essential minerals like iodine, magnesium, calcium and potassium, as well as vitamins, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Irish moss can be consumed whole or as sea moss supplements.

7 potential health benefits of sea moss

From thyroid support to heart health, Irish sea moss offers a wealth of nutrients. Potential sea moss benefits include the following:

1. Thyroid health

Sea moss is a natural source of iodine, a vital element for thyroid health and function. Iodine is a key component of thyroid hormones, which are integral for normal growth, neurologic development, and regulating metabolism.

It's important to maintain adequate iodine levels to help your thyroid function optimally. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for iodine intake is 150 mcg daily in most adults.

While Irish moss provides iodine, it's worth noting that other types of seaweed, such as brown seaweed, are more iodine-rich than red seaweed.

2. Gut health

Irish sea moss is a good source of fiber, which acts as a prebiotic in your gut.  Prebiotics are nondigestible fiber compounds that act as a food source for beneficial gut bacteria, helping them thrive.

This contributes to a healthy balance of microorganisms in the digestive system and helps support your microbiome and gut health. The fiber content also enhances satiety, the feeling of "fullness" after a meal, which may help to curb your appetite.

3. Blood sugar maintenance

Irish moss provides fiber, which helps support already-healthy blood sugar levels by slowing down the absorption of sugar in the digestive tract.

4. Immune health

While there is some preliminary evidence suggesting that Irish sea moss, along with other seaweeds, may encourage immune system health, more human studies are needed. What we do know is that the nutrients in Irish moss help support a healthy microbiome, and a robust immune system is intricately linked to a healthy gut since 70-80% of our immune cells live in our digestive tract.

Sea moss is also high in compounds like iron and antioxidants, which both support immune health.

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5. Heart health

Nutrient-dense Irish sea moss contains omega-3 fatty acids, essential fatty acids that are known for their heart health properties. Vegetarian DHA is another good source of omega-3s.

Omega-3s support heart health by various mechanisms, including helping to maintain healthy levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol, lowering triglyceride levels, and maintaining an already-healthy blood pressure. The fiber in Irish moss also contributes to its heart-healthy properties.

Those omega-3s aren't just for heart support either. DHA, together with EPA, encourages brain health as well.

6. Bone health

Chondrus crispus also contains a good amount of calcium, which is essential for the formation and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. Interestingly, Irish sea moss was found to have a higher calcium concentration than milk.

If we don't get sufficient calcium from our diets, our bodies will utilize the calcium stored in our bones. Getting enough calcium is essential for achieving peak bone mass during growth and helping to maintain bone density as we get older.

In older adults, calcium intake has been shown to be associated with increased bone mineral density in women older than 60.

7. Muscle recovery

Sea moss is rich in amino acids, nutrients that are essential for building muscle and promoting muscle recovery after a workout. An observational study found that certain types of sea moss supplements helped support subjective improvements in exhaustion and fatigue in study subjects.

Is sea moss good to take every day?

Adding sea moss supplements, and seaweed in general, to your daily routine can be beneficial for overall health because of its nutrient-rich composition and many health benefits. However, it's important to speak to a healthcare provider before adding sea moss supplements (or any supplement) to your daily routine.

Sea moss is a natural source of iodine, and while iodine intake can support thyroid function, too much is not a good thing. Sea moss can also have blood-thinning properties. So check with your doctor before starting sea moss supplements.

While there is no established safe dosage, one study found that taking 4 grams of sea moss per day is typically safe for consumption.

How to take sea moss

Sea moss supplements come in many forms, including capsules, gummies and powders. You can also buy whole dried sea moss, sea moss tea or sea moss gel. If you are the DIY type, you can even make sea moss gel at home from dried moss to enjoy its health benefits.

Although Irish moss has a rich nutrient profile, other types of seaweed, such as brown seaweed, provide even higher amounts of iodine. If you're on a vegan-friendly diet, or don't eat seafood, supplements can be an excellent plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids and essential nutrients to fill in any nutritional gaps in your diet.

Looking for other nutrients to support brain health? Take our brain health quiz and get a recommendation tailored to you!

About the Author: Sonali Ruder, DO, is a board-certified emergency medicine doctor, classically trained chef, cookbook author and founder of the popular website, Dr. Ruder is a contributing writer, recipe developer, spokesperson, and health and wellness expert for several national magazines, websites, and organizations. Her passion is giving people the tools to take control of their health, starting in the kitchen!