Despite its name, Irish moss (Chondrus crispus) isn’t really a moss: It’s a type of algae, or seaweed. This red, branching seaweed is found on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in Britain, Europe, and North America. Irish moss plays an important role in a number of industries, but one of its most common uses is in food.Irish moss is largely made of a jelly-like substance known as carrageenan, which makes Irish moss so broadly useful. Carrageenan can be used as a vegan substitute for gelatin, as well as a general emulsifier, so it can be found in everything from ice cream to infant formula. There is some significant controversy surrounding carrageenan and Irish moss, with studies on both sides showing that carrageenan may have both positive and negative health effects.Here’s what you need to know about Irish moss’s effect on your health:

Health Benefits

Irish moss and other seaweeds can provide important health benefits. For example, seaweed is rich in iodine, which is an important nutrient for your thyroid. Iodine helps your thyroid produce hormones that control your metabolism, nerves, and bone growth.

In addition, Irish moss and seaweed may provide health benefits like:

Better Heart Health

Seaweed, including Irish moss specifically, is one of the best plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These fats are critical for a healthy heart. In fact, getting enough omega-3 fatty acids is connected to a lower risk of heart disease, blood clots, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Eating seaweed and Irish moss can help you improve your heart health even if you’re not a fan of fish.

May Help Control Blood Sugar

One substance found in Irish moss that may be helpful is fucoxanthin. This is a carotenoid that gives Irish moss its rich red-brown color.

Studies have shown that fucoxanthin may have significant benefits for regulating blood sugar levels. It appears to help the body respond to insulin more effectively, meaning that your body can control its own blood sugar with less work. For people with diabetes, eating Irish moss may help prevent blood sugar spikes or crashes.

Reduced Risk of Cancer

Fucoxanthin and other carotenoids found in Irish moss act as antioxidants, which are known to help fight free radicals. Uncontrolled free radicals can damage cells, causing them to grow in dangerous ways — damaged cells can become cancerous. By eating seaweed like Irish moss, you may be able to reduce your risk of developing certain cancers.

Health Risks

Although Irish moss offers many health benefits and can improve your body’s overall function, some studies have shown that carrageenan may have negative effects.

Under certain circumstances, carrageenan can be converted into “degraded carrageenan,” or poligeenan — which is known to be toxic and may cause several health problems. There is currently no scientific evidence to show that your body can convert carrageenan to poligeenan. However, some seaweed can contain poligeenan naturally.

May Cause Intestinal Inflammation

Poligeenan can lead to inflammation of the intestines, causing problems with nutrition absorption. This can also lead to discomfort and bloating over time. It may also be linked with colitis and symptoms of Crohn’s disease.

May Cause Stomach Ulcers

In large amounts, poligeenan has also been shown to cause stomach lesions and ulcers in animal studies. More poligeenan is generally connected to larger ulcers.

May Lead to Stomach and Bowel Cancer

Finally, poligeenan has also been linked to polyps that may become cancerous. Poligeenan appears to cause problems in the digestive tract that lead to cell mutations commonly found in cancers, particularly in cases where ulcers are found.

It’s important to note that carrageenan has none of these effects. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that carrageenan is safe to use as a food additive, and the human body cannot produce conditions to convert carrageenan to poligeenan.

Amounts and Dosage

The FDA recommends that people consume no more than 225 micrograms of iodine daily. Since Irish moss is rich in iodine, you may want to be cautious when it comes to overeating it. In general, eating one to two servings, or 2 to 4 tablespoons, is considered safe and healthy.

What are the Sea Moss Nutrition Benefits?

This is a short list of the various elements, chemicals, trace minerals, and vitamins typically found in sea moss:

  • Calcium (Ca)
  • Folate (‎C19H19N7O6)
  • Iron (Fe)
  • Zinc (Zn)
  • Copper (Cu)
  • Sodium (Na)
  • Iodine (I)
  • Boron (B)
  • Soluble Potash (K2O)
  • Magnesium (Mg)
  • Manganese (Mn)
  • Phosphoric Acid (P2O5)
  • Potassium (K)
  • Selenium (Se)
  • Sulfur (S),
  • Carbohydrates including:
    • Alginic Acid (C6H11No6)n
    • Mannitol (C6H14O6)
    • Laminarin ‎(C6H10O5)x
  • Nitrogen (N), and
  • Vitamins A to E, and K
  • What is Selenium?

    Selenium is used widely in a range of applications and is found in commercially produced baby formula, multivitamins and a range of other supplements. It is necessary in small amounts for healthy cellular function.

    Being a component of specific antioxidant enzymes, it also helps to maintain healthy thyroid function by converting one type of thyroid hormone to another type as needed.

    Selenium is capable of changing form under various conditions including temperature variations and exposure to Carbon disulfide.

    Organic Selenium is believed to provide support to the body and prevent a range of complications including:

    • The destruction of cells through premature oxidization and oxidative stress
    • Reduce the degree of impact or the likelihood of:
      • Alzheimer’s disease
      • Cancer
      • Stroke, and
      • Premature aging
    • Reducing the potential of mental health issues and depression
    • Reducing the extent of complications associated with Hashimoto’s disease
    • Boosting the immune system, and
    • Reducing the impact of Asthma and related symptom.
      • Laminarin

        What is Laminarin?

        Laminarin is a beta-glucan that is found in brown species of seaweeds and algae. It is responsible for the storage of the polysaccharide Glucan. It plays a key role in medicinal and medical research circles as it has been found to possess the following properties:

        • Antioxidant
        • Antiviral
        • Antiinflammatory
        • Anticoagulant
        • Antiproliferative
        • Antitumour
        • Antiapoptosis, and
        • Immunostimulatory

        Laminarin is created via photosynthesis and is needed as a part of the life cycle of many microorganisms. From a food source perspective in our global ecosystem, think of Laminarin as a carbohydrate.

        It is used as a food source in a similar way to how chrysolaminarin is put to use by phytoplankton, in particular diatoms.

        Fun Fact: Did you know that diatoms are responsible for the generation of about 20% of the oxygen we have access to on Earth? They are found in the rivers, streams, oceans and soil of our planet and number in their trillions!