Should you be taking Irish Sea Moss?

irish sea moss can be used for nutrition, personal care and more

We’ve had a number of patients come in taking Irish Sea Moss lately, usually because of glowing testimonials on TikTok and Instagram. If you’re curious about this product, and if you “should be taking it” be sure to read on!

Chondrus crispus is the botanical name for Irish Sea Moss. In English it’s also known as carrageen, carrageen moss, curly moss, gristle moss, curly gristle moss, pearly gristle moss, Dorset weed, jelly moss, lichen, moss, rock moss, sea moss, sea pearl moss, and white wrack. Irish Sea Moss is shipped across the world to reach you, so keep in mind the eco-friendliness of such a system when compared to consuming more locally abundant sea vegetables. 

Irish Sea Moss is commonly processed into carrageenan, which is used as a thickening agent in many foods. Read food labels and you’ll often find it near the end of the ingredient list. Carrageenan can be used to soothe irritated tissues, as an expectorant,  in personal care products, and in cosmetics. 

Irish Sea Moss is nutrient dense, containing vitamins, minerals and protein. Although social media is rife with claims about the 92 nutrients it contains, I did not find any scientific verification of this number. However I did find that it contains Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, magnesium, potassium, iodine, sulfur, calcium, selenium, fiber, copper, phosphorus, zinc, riboflavin and manganese. It also contains protein, fiber and omega 3 fatty acids. Like other sea vegetables, it is rich in iodine, which is different from land vegetables.

You might be interested to learn that if you live near salt water, as we do in Tacoma, iodine is found in the air and most of us breathe in enough iodine for our needs. In other areas away from the sea, supplementing is typically done by adding iodine to salt. B12 is of special interest to those who avoid animal foods. The amount of total protein, fiber and omega 3 are not nutritionally significant in the amounts that most people would take.  Looking at the nutrient profile of Irish Sea Moss, I don’t see any particular advantage to taking it over any other nutritional supplement, a quality multivitamin will definitely provide more nutrients and probably for less expense. 

Claims I’ve seen for Irish Sea Moss include the following: 

  • Enhances Thyroid Function
  • Eases Joint Pain
  • Increases Energy Levels 
  • Reduces Fatigue 
  • Supports Heart Health 
  • Boosts Metabolism 
  • Helps Control Appetite
  • Provides Remarkable Nutrition 
  • Promotes Mental and Emotional Well Being 
  • Is a Natural Decongestant 
  • Soothes the Digestive Tract 
  • Anti-Anemic
  • Supports Sexual Health

I searched medical journals and there is no research to prove any of these claims true or false. They are all personal experiences with the product, nothing more. 

The truth is, that if you are deficient in nutrients that affect these body systems or organs, a nutrient dense supplement will likely help you feel better. For example, if you are deficient in iodine, you may not make enough thyroid hormone, so taking iodine may be beneficial for your thyroid.

It’s always best to focus on consuming nutrient dense foods so that your body can reap the benefits. I see this with patients every week at  Qwibil. A typical way this plays out…. Patient has a low nutrient diet and wasn’t taking a multivitamin. Patient starts taking a multivitamin and notices a significant improvement in how they feel! Just add nutrients and bodies feel better!

My medical opinion is that a well-formulated multivitamin is likely to provide more benefit, the correct nutrients in the amounts that you need, and at a better cost ratio than using Irish Sea Moss, however, it is fine to add Irish Sea Moss as well if you like it and it is affordable for you.

I recommend asking your health care provider or simply avoiding Irish Sea Moss if you have a known heavy-metal load, are pregnant, on blood thinners or have a shellfish allergy.

If you have questions or concerns about finding the right supplements or have questions about Irish Sea Moss, the doctors at Qwibil are happy to help you.

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