There always seems to be an endless stream of TikTok and Instagram wellness trends — an ocean of tips and tricks to better your life and health. While some are well-intentioned, many of these trends may not always be for the better.
One new wellness trend making waves is sea moss. TikTokers and celebrities are spooning it into their smoothies and using it as part of their skincare routines, claiming this plant has many health benefits.
While it’s having its moment in the spotlight right now, this type of seaweed dates back thousands of years. Chondrus crispus, also known as sea moss, Irish moss or Irish sea moss, is a type of red algae or seaweed that grows on the rocky coasts of the Northern Atlantic. Many cultures have long used it for its medicinal properties and nutrient-dense qualities, such as carrageenan, a natural food thickening agent.
Before you take Kim K’s or Hailey B’s word for it, we asked Tiffone Powers-Parker, a senior registered dietitian and nutritionist at Banner Health, to wade through the pros and cons of this proclaimed superfood of the sea.
What are the benefits of sea moss?
Like other seaweed and others in the algae family, sea moss has phenomenal natural benefits.
“Sea moss is no different from any other seaweed or family in the algae arena,” Powers-Parker said. “It has many natural benefits. It is low in calories, fat and sugar, gluten free, has a small amount of protein and is a good source of vitamins and minerals.”
It addition to calcium, magnesium, potassium and iodine, sea moss is also a good source of iron and vitamins C and A, which are known to aid your immune system.
With so many nutrients packed into one plant, it’s no wonder people are clamoring to use it as part of their skincare and diet routine. Powers-Parker said many claims about sea moss are not necessarily false, but further research is necessary to confirm these effects on individuals.
Some of these potential benefits include:
Gut health support
Gut health is associated with overall health. Many imbalances in the gut are linked to inflammatory bowel disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
“Sea moss is high in fiber and rich in prebiotics that help increase probiotics, good gut bacteria, in your gut,” Powers-Parker said. “This creates a favorable environment in your gut, aiding digestion, preventing constipation and improving overall health.”
Chronic conditions support
Sea moss has been shown to have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, making it helpful for treating conditions like arthritis, heart disease and skin conditions like acne and psoriasis.
Better thyroid health
Sea moss is a natural source of iodine, a mineral that is essential for thyroid (gland) function and health.
Aiding weight management
Sea moss is high in fiber, which can help you feel fuller longer and may keep you from overeating.
Helping build muscle and collagen
Sea moss is rich in amino acids that are essential for muscle building and collagen production.
“One of the things that is interesting to me as a bodybuilder is that sea moss is rich in an amino acid called taurine,” Powers-Parker said. “Taurine is known to increase muscle mass, muscle strength and reduce muscle damage caused by exercise.”
What are the downsides or risks of sea moss?
Being rich in many vitamins and minerals can lead many to believe that sea moss is a very powerful plant-based food. However, Powers-Parker cautions loading up on it.
“As I say with everything in life, moderation is key,” she said. “Too much of anything can have potential risks.”
Some of the potential cons of sea moss include the following:
Consuming too much iodine, which sea moss is full of, may lead to complications and have poisonous effects.
Sea moss may soak up toxic metals like arsenic, mercury and lead from the water in which it grows. These can be dangerous in large amounts.
Sea moss may negatively interact with certain medications, such as blood-thinning and thyroid medications.
A fishy taste
If you are not a seafood or sushi fan, it may be difficult to get over sea moss’s fishy flavor and slimy texture. The good news is that sea moss is available in other forms that mask the smell and texture.
Should I add sea moss to my diet?
Sea moss offers many potential benefits, though the exact benefits haven’t been verified. If you are considering adding sea moss to your diet, talk to your health care provider first. They can provide more information on whether or not it would be a good addition to your diet.
When it comes to purchasing sea moss, you may notice it comes in a variety of forms, including:
- Supplement capsules or gummies
- Topical products like creams and lotions
Whichever version you choose is up to you, but make sure you follow the recommended dosage instructions and choose organic products that are verified by a trusted third-party laboratory.
“Supplements like sea moss aren’t regulated, so it’s important to know what they contain before you ingest them,” Powers-Parker said.
Sea moss is a red seaweed packed with vitamins and minerals with many potential health benefits. However, it isn’t without some risks. Talk to your health care provider before adding sea moss to your diet.
Most importantly, stay physically active, continue to maintain a healthy diet and eat in moderation.
“It’s OK to supplement, but this doesn’t mean replace,” Powers-Parker said. “Supplements are meant to enhance what you are already doing and bring you up to code. They aren’t meant to replace.”