Kelp is a type of large seaweed, growing at a rate of half a metre a day and extending up to 30 to 80 metres in height. This powerful seaweed is found in ecosystems around the world, but Scotland was the first country to use kelp. Asian countries now who use it medicinally and in cooking.

Historically, seaweed is likely to have been consumed by coastal communities since the beginning of humankind as a readily available food source. However, it’s more popular in Eastern countries like China, Japan and Korea than in the West. Here in the West, we’re much more likely to take kelp as a supplement in capsule form so that we don’t miss out on its array of potential health benefits. It’s important to note that these are only potential and based on studies of what this seaweed may offer. Keep reading to find out what health benefits this seaweed may offer.

Potential Benefits of Kelp

The nutritional profile of kelp includes dietary fibre, carbohydrates, protein, and amino acids, as well as being a rich source of vitamin B1, riboflavin, vitamin B3, folate, pantothenic acid, vitamin C and vitamin K. Zinc, iron, copper, magnesium, calcium, boron, iodine, manganese and sodium are the minerals present in kelp.

This impressive nutritional content boasts the potential ways taking kelp could improve your health. Again, this comes with a disclaimer, and it’s always best to talk to a doctor, healthcare practitioner or nutritionist when adding any supplement to your diet.

1. There have been studies that have found kelp to be beneficial in assisting with weight loss. Kelp contains a protein called fucoxanthin, which aids in reducing fat tissues. There are also molecules called alignates in seaweed, that can significantly aid in managing obesity.

2. Kelp may strengthen the bones due to its vitamin K content, a crucial nutrient that aids in improving bone density. Rich in essential minerals that aid in maintaining bone strength and health, it can contribute to preventing the onset of arthritis or osteoporosis. These minerals include calcium, zinc, boron, copper and manganese, all of which help in the maintenance of healthy bones

3. Kelp is anti-aging due to its high levels of antioxidants, which work to reduce oxidative stress in the body. This delays premature aging and slows down fine line and wrinkles appearing. Kelp nourishes the skin from the inside out when you take it as a supplement. What nourishes your insides often does wonders for what appears on the outside.

4. Kelp may boost blood circulation. Chlorophyll resembles human blood and therefore stimulated red blood cell production. Luckily, kelp is a rich source of chlorophyll, which makes this seaweed a contender for oxygenating and optimizing the organ function throughout the body. Better blood circulation also means glowing skin, as more nutrients are transported to the skin so that it can be nourished from within. Kelp also contains fucoidan, a little-known nutrient that helps prevent blood clotting, and studies have shown that fucoidan may significantly lower the risk of stroke and heart attacks (disclaimer: this does not guarantee you will never have a stroke or heart attack when many factors are involved, but it has the potential to work against these occurring.)

5. Kelp is an alkaline food and therefore can help maintain pH Balance in the body. This helps to stop the body from becoming too acidic. Dr. Alejandro Junger, M.D. is a cardiologist who is also board certified in internal medicine and has studied Eastern medicine in India. In his book, Clean, he talks about the effects of acidity: ‘overly acidic conditions slowly but surely corrode our inner terrain to the point of causing damage. Acidity may corrode arteries, resulting in heart attacks and strokes. It may corrode joints, resulting in arthritis. It certainly promotes the malfunctioning of key processes like oxygen exchange in the red blood cells, inflammation, blood clotting, hormone production, and nerve cell conduction.’ Eating more alkaline foods helps balance your body’s PH levels and can aid in improving digestion.

6. Kelp may regulate cellular growth, speed up wound healing and muscle development, and improve organ functioning. This is because the seaweed contains 16 different amino acids, the building blocks of protein that are needed for these functions.

Side effects and Disclaimers

Although kelp has so much potential in what it could do for your health, overconsumption is not recommended so it’s incredibly important that you only take the recommended dosage. Firstly, it contains iodine, a mineral that is needed by the body for metabolism and normal thyroid function but can be toxic if consumed in excess.

Secondly, with a high sodium content, it’s not recommended for people with pre-existing heart conditions or high cholesterol levels.

Finally, you should always consult with a doctor or healthcare practitioner before taking kelp. Prolonged use of its supplements may not be beneficial or safe for your individual health needs.

Written by Jess Burman

Wellbeing Writer

BA (Honours) Writing