What is Sea Moss

What is sea moss?

Sea moss is having a moment. Counting just TikTok, the term has 1.3 billion views. On Shark Tank, Mark Cuban and Kevin Hart recently invested in a company that sells sea moss gel. At many high-end grocery stores, such as Los Angeles–area Erewhon, the gelatinous substance has been given pride of place next to cold-pressed juices in the refrigerated aisle.

But what exactly is sea moss and why is it suddenly everywhere? And, more importantly, are the purported health benefits—which allegedly include everything from weight loss to immune support to glowy skin—true?

Sea Moss is a type of seaweed

Sea moss is a type of red seaweed commonly found in the northern Atlantic. It’s a source of the food additive, carrageenan. Consuming sea moss isn’t exactly new. “Sea moss has been used by coastal communities for centuries for various medicinal, nutritional, and cultural purposes,” explains Eddie McAleer, a registered and licensed dietitian and advisor at Moss.

Commercially, carrageen, a jelly-like substance, is commonly used as a thickener in manufactured foods like ice cream, jelly, and soup, as well as toothpaste, lotions, and gummies.   It’s also available raw and in supplement form, such as pills, powders, gels, and gummies

Sea moss is about 80% water. It provides carbohydrates, small amounts of protein and fat, and some vitamins and minerals. It’s also a source of iodine.

People use it for fatigue, iodine deficiency, muscle strength, pain, quality of life, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.

What exactly is it?

It’s an edible sea plant similar to other seaweeds, algae, and other familiar leafy sea vegetables like kelp or dulse. Sea moss is a vegan, gluten-free source of many nutrients, including Vitamin B2, calcium, magnesium, and zinc. 

It grows in several colors, such as various shades of green, yellow, purple, red, brown, and black. The most common varieties that grow in the warmer waters are generally red and often called Irish moss.

Also known as Irish moss, Irish sea moss, or by its scientific name, Chondrus crispus, is a frilly sea vegetable similar to other types of edible seaweed, such as nori, kelp, wakame, and kombu.

“Sea moss is a specific type of red algae that is naturally rich in nutrients such as magnesium, iodine, iron, folate, calcium, and vitamins,” explains Kylene Bogden, a board-certified registered dietitian, who specializes in sports nutrition at FwdFuel. “It can be eaten raw, but it also comes dried, in capsules, powder, or gel form.”

Sea moss is a spiny sea vegetable similar to seaweed and sea algae. It has many minerals and vitamins, plus antioxidants with overall health benefits. You may want to be careful to not consume too much.

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