It’s well known that seaweed is a premium source of iodine, a vital mineral for healthy thyroid function. However, one of the best-kept secrets is that seaweed is packed with a huge range of other vitamins and minerals too. Because of this, seaweed is undoubtedly one of the most convenient sources of essential nutrients.
Seaweed is rich in vitamins A, B, C, and E. This includes vitamin B12, which makes seaweed one of the unique and rare vegetable sources of this vitamin. B12 is essential for the making of new cells and nerve function, and commonly comes from meat and dairy products. Therefore, seaweed can act as a key ingredient and B12 supplement in a vegan or vegetarian diet.
B12 is far from the only nutrient that seaweed provides. Research has shown that brown seaweed is particularly rich in vitamins C and E and provitamin A. Vitamin C is essential for immune system health, iron absorption, and wound healing, whilst vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects cell walls. Provitamin A is important for the function of major organs, as well as vision and reproduction. Seaweed basically serves as a vitamin cocktail, providing the nutrients for all of these essential bodily functions in a single product.
Seaweed contains a huge range of macro and micro-nutrients, including calcium, potassium, iodine, iron, and magnesium, to name just a few.
Calcium is essential for building strong bones and teeth, regulating muscle contractions, and ensuring normal blood clotting. A standard 8 g daily portion size of seaweed provides almost two-thirds of the recommended daily requirement of calcium. What gives seaweed the advantage over calcium that comes from milk – calcium carbonate - is that it comes in the form of calcium phosphate instead, which is far more bioavailable (has a more active effect).
Meat and spinach are renowned for being foods high in iron. Yet, seaweed contains considerably higher iron than these more popular food sources, as well as higher amounts of copper and magnesium.
Brown seaweed is known for being high in iodine, which the body needs to make thyroid hormones. The World Health Organisation has highlighted that iodine deficiency disorders are “the world’s most prevalent, yet easily preventable, cause of brain damage.” Land plants are comparatively low in this mineral, meaning seaweed is the best supplement to fill a human’s iodine requirements to control the body’s metabolism and other key functions.
Seaweed is clearly a food supplement that can fulfill many of the human body's mineral and vitamin requirements. It’s hard to believe that such an abundance of essential nutrients can all be provided for in just one single ingredient – seaweed!
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