I was surprised to hear one of my friends did not know what sea vegetables are. The subject came up when she told me her recent blood work showed that her iodine levels were a bit low. I know very little about iodine and thyroid health, this is a very delicate issue and unique to all individuals.
Thankfully, I have not had personal health issues linked to iodine or thyroid health, to give me reason to study this more thoroughly. Therefore, if these are issues for you, please seek a qualified specialist in this area.
Here is what I know about sea vegetables
Some of the most popular, well-known, and most frequently used sea veggies are: Dulse, Kelp, Alaria, Wakame, Nori, Bladderwrack, Arame, and Irish Moss. Sea vegetables are wild ocean plants, eaten daily in many coastal parts of the world. No matter where you live, you can buy these in natural food stores and specialty markets.
Sea vegetables are rich in minerals, including calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, iodine, manganese, chromium and more, at levels much greater than those found in land vegetables.
Sea veggies provide vitamins, fiber, enzymes, and high quality protein. The phytochemicals found in sea vegetables have been shown to absorb and eliminate radioactive elements and heavy metal contaminants from our bodies. Other research demonstrates their role in the inhibition of tumor formation, reduction of cholesterol, and their anti-viral properties.
Additionally, sea vegetables are a great natural source of iodine, the reason for this post. Iodine is the main component of the hormone produced by the thyroid gland, which regulates our metabolism, influences growth and development, and protein synthesis. It is an important element of alertness, rapid brain activity, and a deterrent to arterial plaque. Iodine is also a key in the control and prevention of many endocrine deficiency conditions such as fibroids, tumors, prostate inflammation, adrenal exhaustion, and liver and kidney toxicity.
Because of the way I live my life, my advise is always the over-used and under-valued Hippocrates quote: “let food by thy medicine and let medicine be thy food”. Therefore, in the case of my friend, I told her to go find some sea veggies. You can also buy them in pill or supplement form.
Sea vegetables and iodine supplementation
Over the years I have also learned that although the most common iodine supplement a store clerk will recommend is kelp, the more balanced, long-term approach for most people is a supplement with a blend of sea veggies. This makes perfect sense when you think of it in similar terms of how you eat everyday: you eat a variety of foods because eating just one kind would eventually create an imbalance.
Many times a little goes a long way when it comes to sea veggie nutrition and iodine content, so start slow. It may not take much to make you feel great and bring your levels back to “normal”, and although healthy bodies will “spill” unused iodine, if you have thyroid dysfunction or have an allergy or sensitivity to the iodine or the veggies, taking too much could be an issue.
And please note: iodine from Iodized salt or as a chemical in prescriptions or supplements, IS NOT THE SAME as the iodine you would find in a sea vegetable supplement or food. Those are chemicals waiting for a whole other post.
Photo credit: matrixworldhr.files.wordpress.com