Have you heard of Irish Sea Moss? It’s on the rise in popularity (at least according to the trends newsletter I follow) and a recent staple in my smoothies.
Irish Sea moss, also known as “Irish moss,” is not part of the usual American diet. This is part of the reason you most likely hadn’t heard about it until recently. However, if you are Irish (hence the name) or Jamaican, you might have encountered these edible algae.
So, in this article, I am going to briefly talk about this specific type of moss, what are its potential benefits, and, finally, some precautions to consider before adding it to your diet. If you are not familiar with Irish Sea moss and you are wondering if you can add it to your diet, then read on.
What is Irish Sea Moss?
Irish Sea moss is one form of red algae that can be found in the Atlantic coastlines of Europe, North America, and the Caribbean Islands. As early as the 1800s, the Irish learned to use sea mosses for medicinal purposes. They even used these sea mosses as a source of nutrients when food and other sources of nutrients were lacking.
On the other island, Jamaicans also learned to use sea moss in a variety of ways. Specifically, Jamaicans used sea moss to treat certain illnesses. In some areas, it is even believed that sea moss can help increase libido, although there is not much scientific proof to back up the claim so far.
Now, decades later, the benefits are reaching the United States too. While Sea Moss is relatively easy on your body, it’s important to look at any potential concerns before you try it. Many experts are divided when it comes to the health benefits it can give (or what it cannot give). But like with many supplements, I believe it’s important to test things yourself (as long as they’re not dangerous).
We are going to tackle that divide, and in the end, it is up to you if you will give it a try or not!
What are the Benefits of Sea Moss?
Proponents of eating sea moss claim that it can provide humans with a variety of health benefits. These range from an immunity boost to skin benefits. Here are some of the possible health benefits we could potentially experience if we add sea moss to our diet.
1) Improves your skin health
Irish Sea moss contains many vitamins and minerals, partially why it is beneficial for your skin. Specifically, citrulline-arginine, a compound which can be found in Irish Sea moss, can aid in metabolism and cell growth – which will eventually help improve your skin health.
At the same time, citrulline-arginine is capable of releasing certain amino acids. These are very important for collagen and protein synthesis. Collagen is very important in maintaining healthy skin and even hair.
2) Improves your energy levels
Managing and maintaining your energy levels is very crucial – and for good reasons! One way to increase energy is by being wise about what foods you eat. Some foods can help you gain energy while others cannot. Irish Sea moss can also help improve energy levels.
B-vitamins are important when you want to capitalize on stored energy in foods. Irish Sea moss can help in this because it contains vitamins B9 (folate) and B2 (riboflavin). Riboflavin breaks down carbs, proteins, and fats – a key factor that improves your energy levels. On the other hand, folate or vitamin B9 forms DNA and other genetic materials.
Folate can help, especially when paired with vitamin B12. This is a B vitamin that is abundant mainly in animal food sources, in creating red blood cells, which is helpful in maintaining energy levels (such as through oxygen distribution).
3) Boost your immunity
If you contract a virus or feel a cold coming on, Irish Sea moss can potentially help lessen your symptoms.
Irish Sea moss contains potassium iodide, a compound that dissolves phlegm that clogs your airways. Irish Sea moss, being rich in vitamins and minerals, also contain vitamin C, amino acids, certain antioxidants, and other antimicrobial or antiviral agents. The combination of these can be very helpful in fighting off flu and other possible infections.
4) Aid in digestion
According to some research that has been done on animals, Irish Sea moss can have a prebiotic effect as they digest the foods they ate. This prebiotic effect is very helpful for digestion as it enhances good gut bacteria (crucial for digestion) while warding off bad ones.
5) Regulate your emotional health
Of all in this list, this one may come as the most surprising – but not for surprising reasons.
On the other hand, if we are low or deficient in one or both of these minerals, we may become low or even feel anxious and depressed. Therefore, it is necessary to take a healthy amount of potassium and magnesium – and Irish Sea moss can help us with that!
6) It thickens your smoothies!
Okay, so this isn’t exactly a health benefit, but it is a benefit on its own. lol.
One of the ways I’ve been including Sea Moss in my diet is by adding it to my smoothies. It makes it thicker and you’ll have no idea it’s even there. I can’t wait to use it in my soups this fall too. If you’re looking to step up your smoothie game, check out one of my recent posts “How To Make A Smoothie That Will Actually Fill You Up.”
What Does Sea Moss do for the Body?
As mentioned above, there are countless benefits to implementing with Irish sea moss.
Can Irish sea moss be consumed daily?
Irish sea moss is packed with a variety of beneficial nutrients and minerals. One of the key nutrients being iodine. Because of the iodine content, it’s important to not overconsume sea moss as it can throw off thyroid function. While the specific recommended dose is debated, it is typically safe to consume around 4 to 8 grams or 1 to 2 tablespoons of it daily.
Is Irish sea moss from Ireland?
Irish sea moss comes from the coasts of Ireland, Europe, and the United States. The reason it is referred to as Irish sea moss is due to its use in the 1800’s Irish potato famine. There was such a lack of food during the famine that some began to eat the red algae found on the rocks in the Atlantic. The benefits of the sea moss were not as widely known during the 1800s, but it might have helped the people more than they knew.
Things to Consider Before Adding Sea Moss to Your Diet
Although Irish Sea moss can provide certain key health benefits, similar to most “superfoods,” Irish Sea moss is almost met by skepticism and even criticism by some experts.
One criticism thrown against Irish Sea moss is that it is linked to carrageenan, a derivative of sea moss which was labeled by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a “possible human carcinogen.” In other words, some researchers fear sea moss to be cancerous.
However, it’s important to point out that carrageenan and Irish Sea moss are different. Although carrageenan is a derivative of sea moss, it is far from being similar to the moss. Irish Sea moss, as demonstrated above, is rich in vitamins and minerals, while carrageenan is extracted from the moss and is a common food additive and emulsifier.
The only thing that really sticks out about the Irish Sea moss is the lack of scientific research. Even though it contains certain vitamins and minerals, we still do not know the scope of effects it can have on our health. We also do not know how Irish Sea moss will interact with other supplements or medications we use – these things are important to understand the limits of the sea moss, and so we can properly set dosage for consumption.
That said, there tends to be a lack of research in general when it comes to most supplements. Unfortunately, there is a lack of focus on these items, which leads to a whole lot of skepticism. Like I mentioned at the beginning of the article, I like to try things out myself and see how they interact with my body personally.
I hope you enjoyed this post and learned everything you need to know about this new superfood. Also, check out “Three Immune-Boosting Mushrooms I Add to My Coffee” or my post on “Chicory Coffee” if you enjoyed this post.