Kelp is a type of underwater seaweed which is used for medicinal purposes as a supplement or as food for humans and animals.
There are different varieties of kelp and knowing their origins is important for many oceans suffer from pollution and this can cause kelp growing in these regions to be contaminated by harmful toxins.
Both the nodosum and digitata varieties of kelp are used in diets.
Kelp harvested in regions near Iceland, Norway, Hawaii, North West US and Canada is said to be relatively free of toxins since the waters are protected and clean.
When purchasing kelp supplements, makes sure you purchase safe brands which will have higher alginate content and lower toxic metals.
The right brand of kelp supplements will contain minerals like manganese, copper, zinc, chromium, other trace elements, magnesium, calcium, selenium, calcium and iodine. It also contains over 70 vitamins some of which are vitamins K, B12, B1 and B2, enzymes and proteins.
Iodine is required to maintain proper functioning of the thyroid gland, prevent thyroid disorders like hypothyroidism, and prevent mental disorders like depression and mental retardation.
Those with hypothyroidism gain weight, they feel fatigued and their metabolism slows down.
There are many iodine antagonists around and there are millions of people who are iodine deficient due to poor soil conditions in regions where they live.
Until iodized salt was introduced, most diets lacked the required RDI of iodine. Asians were less prone to iodine deficiency since they included seaweeds and fish rich in iodine in their diet.
The daily recommended dosage of iodine from the age of 4 upwards is 150mcg.
Kelp vs. Iodine Supplements
Kelp is the best known food source of bio-available iodine. Iodized salt does provide the required iodine but sometimes, this source is not well utilized by the body.
However, again the choice of kelp supplement matters for iodine content varies in different brands.
Some nutritionists and doctors prefer kelp supplements to other iodine supplements for it is said to be more effective being a natural food source.
This makes the body utilize it better. It is also cheaper and considered a ‘green’ source of iodine. While some varieties of kelp do contain toxins, overall it is said to be more effective source of iodine than other iodine supplements.
Sometimes taking single mineral supplements like iodine supplements could affect absorption of the other minerals and even cause an imbalance. It is better to take a balanced nutritional supplement like kelp which provides the body with a range of vitamins, minerals, protein, enzymes etc.
Kelp also contains other trace minerals like germanium, rubidium and iridium, which are rarely found in foods since the soil is depleted by such nutrients. It also provides a good blend of minerals compared to pure iodine supplements. Very rarely do you find vegetable sources of calcium and kelp is one such source.
Iodine supplements also regulate estrogen in the breast tissue and this proves beneficial to women. It can protect against radiation, especially for those who require frequent X-rays or mammograms.
Those looking for natural supplements can choose kelp over iodine supplements. Liquid iodine supplements are said to be safer.
An excess of iodine can lead to thyroid problems. Always take iodine or kelp supplements only if a physician deems it necessary. Some people can be sensitive to iodine and develop allergies, nausea and hair loss too, although these are usually temporary.
Some kelp brands can contain high concentrations of toxic metals like arsenic, mercury or cadmium which could cause health problems. Overdosing with iodine supplements can also cause gastric disorders, increased heart rates, sleep disruption, and hyperthyroidism.
Kelp can affect the length of a menstrual cycle, impair fertility and sometimes has anti-estrogenic effects especially in pre-menopausal women. It is important to maintain the right daily dosage of iodine both from supplements and food to avoid overdose.
Do not take kelp supplements continuously. Always give periodic breaks in between. For example, take kelp for 2 weeks, give a 2 week break and then start again. This will prevent overdosing of iodine.
Kelp is an excellent general mineral supplement and is preferable to taking only pure iodine supplements.
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