Ingredient Spotlight // Organic Sea Algae

Sea algae, you have probably started to see this ingredient added into beautiful blue green smoothie bowl recipes (we will get to that at the end of the post), skincare lines, and even as a dietary supplement, but what really is sea algae anyway, and why is it promoted as being so incredible for us?

Well among many of its powerful properties, the sea has the ability to provide us with some of the most nutrient rich food sources for our health, one of which being a simple plant called algae. 

From glowing skin, strong hair/nails, anti-inflammation, thyroid health, heart health, and cancer fighting properties, sea algae has been promoted as a nutritional superfood with a seemingly endless number of positive health benefits. [1]

While the generalized benefits of sea algae can at times be possibly exaggerated (as can many nutritional "superfoods") research over time has shown that this tiny sea vegetable certainly has a lot to offer, and is worth considering adding to an otherwise healthy diet. [2]


 What is sea Algae?

Sea algae or more commonly known "seaweed", are plants that other marine organisms (such as fish) thrive off of. They have been consumed for hundreds of years in traditional Asian, and Aztec diets, and yet are just now beginning to make their way over into the United States.

While the many varieties of sea algae can differ in shape, taste, color, and texture, due to their high-concentrations of certain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants they are considered to be one of the most nutritionally beneficial foods on the planet. [3]


types of sea Algae

Sea Algae are typically divided into three different categories based on their color, and thus their general health benefits: 

  • Green Algae: Known for it anti-inflammatory benefits, and ability to detox the body of heavy metals [4] [5] [6]
  • Brown Algae: Most commonly used algae in skin-care products, rich in beta-carotene and other antioxidants.
  • Red Algae: Rich in antioxidants, and found to minimize the damage to skin caused by UV radiation. [7]

What Are The Nutritional Benefits of Consuming Algae 

Sea algae are considered to be nutritional powerhouses and for good reason. They contain an abundance of essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytonutrients, and antioxidants that make them an excellent addition to a healthy diet. [8]

One of the most prominent benefits of consuming sea algae, particularly on a plant-based diet, is that they contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, and are considered to be a complete protein. Certain types of sea algae, such as spirulina, contain a high percent of protein by weight offering up 4g of complete protein per tablespoon, making it an excellent protein source for vegetarians/vegans.

They also are a rich source of many essential vitamins and minerals such as: copper, magnesium, iodine, calcium, potassium, selenium, zinc, iron, and vitamins A, and C. However, iodine is by far the most abundant mineral present in sea algae, with one gram providing 500-1000 ug of iodine, which is well over the RDA of 150 ug for an adult. [9]  

Lastly, they are high in antioxidants and phytonutrients, which have been shown to help our bodies fight cancer and other disease causing free-radicals. [10]


health benefits of sea algae

Because of their high concentration of iodine, an essential mineral for a healthy thyroid gland, sea algae have been found to be one of the most beneficial foods for promoting thyroid health. With an estimated 20 million American's alone being affected from some form of thyroid disease, the potential positive thyroid specific health benefits of consuming sea algae alone, is significant. 

They also contain high levels of phytonutrients, and antioxidants that have been shown to be protective on the body against certain types of cancers, and heart disease. While there is still much to be learned about the powerful affects of antioxidants on our health, it is clear that sea algae's contain some of the highest concentrations of antioxidants and other essential nutrients, making them a generally healthy addition to a healthy diet. [13]


How is Algae Beneficial For Skin?

The beauty benefits of the sea! We aren't exaggerating here.

The sea and its many incredible properties has been thought for hundreds of years to be beneficial in promoting healthy skin, and addressing a number of skin conditions.

Sea algae specifically have been studied for many years for their associated benefits in preventing disease, inflammation, and skin health, and for many reasons is considered a powerful ingredient when applied topically in skincare products. [11]

Given the wide variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino-acids present in sea algae they have been found to be helpful in promoting the production of collagen, which is essential for promoting skin elasticity and regeneration. 

They have also been researched, specifically within brown and green algae, for their anti-inflammatory properties (specifically chlorella), and thus their ability to target specific dermatitis conditions when applied topically. [12] Below are some products containing various types of sea algae ingredients, from one of my absolute favorite natural skincare brands. 


osea Skin Care Products Containing Algae

Osea is a family run company that focuses on natural and non-toxic beauty/skincare products to the world. The company focuses on providing high-quality products that harness the powerful benefits of the sea through the use of organic bioavailable seaweed, and other essential oils to promote healthy skin, without any need for synthetic chemicals. 


Now that you know all the many wonderful reasons why sea algae can be beneficial for our health, and our skin, why don't we talk about my favorite way to add this superfood into your daily diet...and make those smoothie bowls look extra pretty while doing it!


sea algae Spirulina "Mermaid" Smoothie Bowl


Ingredients

  1. 1 scoop vanilla vegan protein
  2. 1 tsp spirulina powder
  3. 1/4 frozen banana
  4. 1/2 frozen kiwi
  5. 1/4 frozen avocado
  6. 1 tsp coconut oil
  7. 1/2 cup fresh spinach leaves
  8. 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  9. 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  10. 4 ice cubes

Toppings

  1. 1 tsp goji berries
  2. 1 tsp coconut flakes
  3. 1/2 kiwi
  4. 1/4 cup blueberries
  5. 1 tsp chia seeds

Method

  1. Add all ingredients to a high speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
  2. Pour in a bowl and top with your favorite smoothie bowl toppings such as goji berries, fresh fruit, coconut flakes, and chia seeds

word of caution

When choosing to consuming sea algae supplements, it is important to ensure that the source is organic, and coming from a trusted company. While the FDA does regulate edible seaweeds, the FDA does not regulate any sea algae supplements. 

Because sea algae are grown in the sea, there is always the possibility that they can become contaminated by heavy metals (similar to fish). However, when grown in an organic environment, from a respected retailer that risk of contamination is minimal. However, with this said, consuming sea algae would not be recommended by pregnant women.

It is advised to always seek the approval of your doctor before including any new supplements into your diet, as some supplements can interfere with specific medicaitons.


[1] Fujimura, Tsutomu, and Kazue Tsukahara. "vesiculosus chanoes its thickness and mechanical properties." J. Cosmet. Sci 53 (2002): 1-9.

[2] Van Ginneken, Vincent JT, et al. "Polyunsaturated fatty acids in various macroalgal species from north Atlantic and tropical seas." Lipids in health and disease 10.1 (2011): 104.

[3] De Souza, Micheline Cristiane Rocha, et al. "Antioxidant activities of sulfated polysaccharides from brown and red seaweeds." Journal of Applied Phycology 19.2 (2007): 153-160.

[4] Sedighi, Mahsa, et al. "Potential Health Effects of Enzymatic Protein Hydrolysates from Chlorella vulgaris." Applied Food Biotechnology 3.3 (2016): 160-169.

[5] Munoz, L. Pantoja, et al. "The mechanisms of detoxification of As (III), dimethylarsinic acid (DMA) and As (V) in the microalga Chlorella vulgaris." Aquatic Toxicology 175 (2016): 56-72.

[6] Kumar, K. Suresh, et al. "Microalgae–A promising tool for heavy metal remediation."  Ecotoxicology and environmental safety 113 (2015): 329-352.

[7] Navarro, Nelso P. "Sunscreens of red algae from Patagonia: a biotechnological perspective." Pure and Applied Chemistry 87.9-10 (2015): 953-960.

[8] Ubani, Lumumba Umunna. Preventive Therapy in Complimentary Medicine. Xlibris Corporation, 2011.

[9] Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2001.

[10] Lee, Jin-Ching, et al. "Marine algal natural products with anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties." Cancer Cell International 13.1 (2013): 55.

[11] Fitzgerald, CiarΓ‘n, et al. "Heart health peptides from macroalgae and their potential use in functional foods." Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 59.13 (2011): 6829-6836.

[12] Thomas, Noel Vinay, and Se-Kwon Kim. "Beneficial effects of marine algal compounds in cosmeceuticals." Marine drugs 11.1 (2013): 146-164.

[13] Bernstein, Adam M., et al. "A meta-analysis shows that docosahexaenoic acid from algal oil reduces serum triglycerides and increases HDL-cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol in persons without coronary heart disease." The Journal of nutrition 142.1 (2012): 99-104


Disclaimer: This post was not sponsored, however I did receive product samples in exchange for a review of my honest opinions. All opinions are my own. The information contained in this website is not meant to substitute for individually recommended medical advice from your doctor. It is the responsibility of the reader to consult with his/her doctor before adding supplements to his/her diet without prior approval.

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