Kelp supplements have gained a lot of steam lately. People are trying to clean up their diets and eat healthfully, and part of that movement involves researching and trying out new foods. Seaweed, of which kelp is one variety, is one of those foods. Taken in moderation, seaweed can be one of the single healthiest items on your plate. But there are a few things to keep in mind.
(Disclaimer: talk to your doctor before making any big changes to your diet. He or she knows best.)
Natural Source of Iodine
Iodine is a vitally important nutrient, and many of us don’t get it. It’s not present in a lot of the popular foods out there. It’s so important that “iodized salt” is called that because they’ve added iodine to it (read the package on your salt at home: it says, “This salt supplies iodine, a necessary nutrient.”) Well, kelp and other seaweed is a natural source of iodine.
Iodine is important for thyroid function; iodine deficiency is a really bad thing that you don’t want to even think about! It affects about two billion people in the world—yeah, two billion, WTF?—and it’s the number-one cause of mental retardation.
However, there is some speculation that too much iodine can also interfere with your thyroid. What gives? Can’t this just be simple and easy? Well, the take-home point here is not to overdo it. If you take a kelp supplement, maybe only take it two or three times a week. If you have a shaker of kelp flakes that you sprinkle over foods, just use a pinch. A little can go a long way when it comes to this extremely iodine-rich food. And it’s probably a good idea to ask your doctor, because thyroid function is complicated stuff.
A study several years ago found arsenic in a kelp supplement. Many parts of the sea are polluted with heavy metals. (Stupid factories!) And those metals get absorbed by the flora and fauna of the region. So if your kelp is harvested in the wrong area, it might be high in arsenic or other toxic metals. This is another reason to eat kelp in moderation, and try to always eat organic.
Other Kelp Supplement Benefits
Kelp has been linked with lower rates of cancer and reduced inflammation. Sweet, huh? It’s high in antioxidants and iron.