Kelp is brown algae seaweeds found in the shallow oceans of temperate regions, such as Japan and Korea. Kelp is a superfood that is rich in antioxidants, iodine, iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium [R].
Here are some of its health benefits supported by scientific research:
1. Prevents Iodine Deficiency
Because of its rich iodine content, kelp can help prevent thyroid hormone problems. Iodine deficiency during pregnancy can cause the child to have serious cognitive and mental development problems. It can also cause reproductive problems or permanent learning disabilities during childhood [R].
Kelp contains 200 to 400 micrograms of iodine. In a longitudinal study involving 7 patients with serious cognitive and motor disabilities and iodine deficiency-induced hypothyroidism, kelp was shown to enhance thyroid activity. The patients consumed a daily dose of 1 to 2 grams of powdered kelp that improved thyroid activity and increased urine iodine concentration [R].
2. Reduces Blood Sugar Levels
In a random-controlled trial involving 20 type 2 diabetic patients, daily treatment of powdered kelp pills lowered blood sugar levels after 4 weeks. The pills reduced after-meal and fasting blood sugar and fatty acid levels. They also increased levels of good cholesterol in the blood, thereby preventing cardiovascular complications related to diabetes [R] [R] [R].
Kelp is rich in vanadium, which can help manage diabetes when taken orally. Fourteen type 1 diabetic patients were given a daily dose of 150 to 300 mg vanadium in a longitudinal study for 30 months, and it resulted in a 30% reduction of fasting blood sugar. Vanadium also reduced cholesterol with the only noted side effect being mild diarrhea at the start of treatment [R] [R].
3. Potentially Fights Breast Cancer
In a 3-month study with 15 postmenopausal women, of which 10 were survivors of breast cancer, kelp supplementation alternated with placebo treatment decreased an attribute of breast cancer recurrence by 50% after a month of treatment [R] [R].
4. Potentially Treats Hepatitis C
The fucoidan content of kelp treated virus-induced liver illnesses, according to a study with 15 chronic hepatitis C patients. A reduction in hepatitis C levels was noted in the blood after 8 to 10 months of treatment [R].
5. Promotes Weight Loss
A kind of kelp called Xanthigen was proven to reduce body weight, waist size, liver fat, and overall body fat in a study of 151 obese women without diabetes. During this study, 3/4 of the women had nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and 1/4 had a healthy liver. Increased basal metabolic rates and improved liver function tests were also noted [R].
Individuals who undergo thyroid replacement therapy should use kelp supplements with caution. Excessive iodine amounts can also wreak havoc on overall thyroid activity and hormones as much as deficiencies do [R] [R] [R].
The FDA recommends a daily dose of 225 micrograms of iodine. Excessive intake should never be done without prior consultation. However, it is a case-to-case basis, because there was one study wherein patients with hypothyroidism were treated with a daily dose of 200 to 400 micrograms of iodine [R] [R].
We strongly advise you to have regular check-ups with your doctor and lab tests (blood, kidney, and liver) at least once every six months if you decide to take any herbal medicine or supplements for long-term.