Kelp belongs to the seaweed family.
There are about 30 varieties of kelp. Kelp is available as powder, liquid or capsules. It can be taken as a dietary supplement or added to food for seasoning.
Kelp is full of various nutrients and its benefits as a supplement are well known. Kelp contains around 70 minerals, 21 amino acids, enzymes, trace elements, iodine, calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium.
This range of nutrients and the various ways kelp is available means that every individual can consume kelp in their preferred manner. Kelp granules can be a good substitute for salt.
Kelp noodles can be used like spaghetti. Kelp flakes can be used as a garnishing for soups, salads and stir-fried dishes. Those who do not like the taste but still want to enjoy the health benefits of kelp can take it as a capsule.
Benefits of kelp supplements
When choosing kelp supplements, the right brand is critical. Today a safe brand free from toxicity can prove extremely beneficial.
If you choose the right brands of kelp supplements, you get various health benefits.
Excellent mineral content - Kelp provides our body with all the required trace elements.
Apart from common minerals mentioned above, you also find traces of lesser known but still valuable minerals like iridium, germanium and rubidium in kelp. It is very difficult to find food sources of these minerals since most soils are depleted of them.
Better than other supplements: There are many excellent herbal supplements available. However, most many not contain a good combination of minerals.
Kelp contains essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, selenium and zinc and it has low levels of copper. Some herbal supplements if they are not manufactured properly may not contain elements needed to get rid of toxins in them.
Kelp is cheaper than many ‘green superfoods’ and the salt content can preserve it better.
Calcium: It is rare to find a vegetable source which is rich in calcium. Kelp has rich sources of bioavailable calcium, similar to carrots and raw dairy products.
Sometimes, pasteurized calcium available in dairy products, nuts and seeds is not as well utilized as raw calcium present in kelp.
Iodine: Kelp supplements provide us with the best source of iodine. This is a mineral that the body requires in significant quantities due to the existence of many iodine antagonists in our environment.
Iodized salt does provide the required iodine. Seafood contains iodine but can be contaminated by toxins. Check your kelp supplements for iodine quantities for this can vary with each product.
Since kelp provides us with natural iodine sources, it is considered a better and cheaper option than many other sources. If harvested in the right way, kelp can also be free of toxins.
The high iodine content keeps the thyroid functioning normally, improves metabolism and aids in weight loss. Kelp helps control hot flashes in menopausal women and regulates body temperature in general. Those who are allergic to chemical iodine can benefit from taking kelp supplements.
Taking kelp supplements can improve digestion, pancreatic function, constipation, energy levels, functioning of pituitary gland, help with weight loss, improve liver functioning and metabolism rates, improve memory and brain functioning and arthritis.
Nutrients in Kelp Supplements and Dosage
Kelp is a good nutritional supplement for 100g of kelp contains vitamins A, K, C, D, B and E, 1.7g protein, phytonutrients, folic acid and small quantities of omega-3 fatty acids.
Adults can take 600mg kelp three times daily with food. This can be doubled to 6 capsules of the same strength if you are able to tolerate it with no side effects.
Children can be given 2-3 600mg capsules a day and toddlers and babies can be given one capsule every day.
Types of supplements available
Experts do suggest that some brands of kelp supplements are better than others. ‘Solaray’ and ‘Nature’s Way’ are considered top brands of kelp capsules.
Those who prefer granules can try ‘Monterrey Bay Herb’ and ‘Frontier Herbs’. These brands are said to have lesser toxic metals and greater alginate content.
Other sea vegetables like wakame, hiziki, dulse, Irish moss etc are also used as supplements. However, exercise caution when eating these herbs, as you would fish, for the levels of arsenic and mercury can vary.
Kelp supplements can be purchased at local health food stores or bought online. ‘Nature’s Way Kelp Capsules’ is made from whole dried kelp plants which grow in 1-10 feet deep ocean waters.
This capsule possesses 0.6% iodine (400mcg) which gives us 267% of RDA. ‘Solaray – Thyroid Blend’ Kelp capsules is a special blend for thyroid patients.
You can take 2 capsules 1-2 times a day. It is not to be used by pregnant women and those with hypothyroidism. There are other herbal kelp supplements from manufacturers like ‘Country Life’, ‘Now Foods’, ‘Good ‘n’ Natural’, ‘Swanson’ etc.
A caution which must be exercised when choosing kelp supplements is the same as with all sea products – the presence of arsenic and mercury due to pollution of sea water.
In studies, it was found that a woman taking kelp supplements suffered from memory loss, worsening alopecia and fatigue.
It was later discovered that it was due to arsenic poisoning from taking an overdose of kelp supplements. Intake of excess iodine can also cause symptoms of nausea, weakness, vomiting, erythema in certain cases, headache and diarrhea.
However, it was found that the woman was taking an excess of the supplement without consulting the doctor. Always read the label for the right dosage and consult your doctor.
Excess kelp can cause an overdose of iodine and this causes hypothyroidism. When buying kelp supplements, make sure of the ingredients – sometimes other seaweeds are sold as kelp and may not provide the same nutritive value.
Kelp is considered a balancing food that most of us need today. Modern diets are full of genetically modified foods or full of harmful chemicals and pesticides.
Kelp is rich in salt and exposed to plenty of sunshine. Hence it is said to balance out modern diets and produce fewer side effects.
Single mineral supplements can interfere with optimum absorption of other minerals. Kelp is a balanced nutritional supplement and hence absorption is better and it seems safer for long term use against other herbal supplements.
Look up all product information on where the kelp is obtained from.
Kelp must be taken with periodic breaks. Consult the label for dosage and concentration of various nutrients and check for any interactions with medications and supplements you are already taking.