Seaweed health benefit side effects, extract supplement
July 19 2018 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Seaweed, or sea vegetable, represents a currently underutilized source of dietary fiber and antioxidant molecules in the Western world. Seaweeds are widely consumed in Asian diets, both as ingredients, including seasonings and condiments, and as wrappers for snacks. Seaweeds are known to be sources of dietary fibers but there have also been studied on their nutritional value, anticarcinogenic effects and antioxidant activity. Dietary kelp exhibits anticarcinogenic effects, attributed to the enhancement of enzyme activity and the reduction of lipid peroxidation.

Edible seaweeds contain labile antioxidant molecules such as ascorbate and glutathione, in addition to more stable molecules including carotenoids, mycosporine -like amino acids, catechins, phlorotannins and tocopherols. In vitro studies with seaweed extracts have shown antioxidant activity, suggesting a potential for the protective effects of seaweed against lipid oxidation in foods and oxidative stress in vivo. However, there is relatively little information about the antioxidant potential of North American seaweeds, in particular the red seaweed dulse (Palmaria palmata), which is traditionally consumed as a snack food and garnish.

Alginate is an extract used as a fiber and for potential weight loss
Bladderwrack seaweed info
Doty - An edible seaweed. Food Chem. 2014. Studies on the functional properties of protein concentrate of Kappaphycus alvarezii (Doty) . Protein concentrate (PC) of Kappaphycus alvarezii (cultivated on the West coast of India), was extracted and its functional properties were evaluated. The K. alvarezii PC contained 62% proteins. At pH 12, the nitrogen solubility of this PC was 58% in the presence of 0.5M NaCl. The emulsifying and foaming properties of this PC varied with time and pH. However, it formed remarkably stable emulsions with Jatropha oil after 720min. On the other hand, maximum foaming ability (53%) of the PC was recorded at pH 4.0. This PC had high oil and water absorption capacity. DSC analysis revealed thermal transitions at about 109.25C at neutral pH. The results obtained in this investigation suggest the suitability of K. alvarezii PC as an inexpensive source of protein; thus this PC could be incorporated into several value-added food products.
Ecklonia cava is an edible marine brown alga. Aggressive promotion of this seaweed began in 2009.
Sea Lettuce

Brown Seaweed
Researchers led by Kazuo Miyashita, a chemistry professor at the Hokkaido University Graduate School of Fisheries Sciences in Japan, investigated the effects of brown seaweed, Undaria pinnatifida -- a type of kelp called wakame that is widely consumed in Japan. They found that fucoxanthin, the brown pigment in the seaweed, promoted a 5 percent to 10 percent weight loss in mice and rats by shrinking abdominal fat. The compound appeared to stimulate a protein that causes fat oxidation and conversion of energy to heat. This protein is found in white adipose tissue. Fucoxanthin also stimulated the animals' livers to produce DHA, a beneficial omega-3 fatty acid.

Most wakame Undaria pinnatifida, a brown algae, products are made from the frond portion.

J Med Invest. 2014. Effects of the intake of Undaria pinnatifida (Wakame) and its sporophylls (Mekabu) on postprandial glucose and insulin metabolism. Because previous reports have suggested that seaweed may exert anti-diabetic effects in animals, the effects of Wakame or Mekabu intake with 200 g white rice, 50 g boiled soybeans, 60 g potatoes, and 40 g broccoli on postprandial glucose, insulin and free fatty acid levels were investigated. Plasma glucose levels at 30 min after the Mekabu meal were significantly lower than that after the control meal. Plasma glucose and glucose AUC were not different between the Wakame and control meals. Postprandial serum insulin and its AUC and free fatty acid concentration were not different among the three meals. In addition, fullness, satisfaction, and wellness scores were not different among the three meals. Thus, consumption of 70 g Mekabu with a white rice-based breakfast reduces postprandial glucose concentration.

Carbohydr Polym. 2014. Mekabu fucoidan: structural complexity and defensive effects against avian influenza A viruses. Fucoidan from the sporophyll (Mekabu) of brown seaweed Undaria pinnatifida (wakame) is interesting due to its various biological activities. Oral administration of Mekabu fucoidan resulted in suppressing virus yields. In addition, the production of neutralizing antibodies and mucosal IgA in the animals inoculated with the avian influenza A viruses was significantly increased. These results suggested that MF could be used for the prevention of viral infection.

Q. What can you tell me about fucoidan Mekabu health benefits if we use it on our hair and skin. Can you recommend sites where I can look at studies or info on the benefits for scalp and hair if we use the gel like parts of Mekabu?
   A. I have not studied this seaweed in much detail.

Substances, products derived from seaweed
Agar Powder is derived entirely from natural seaweed.

Carrageenans are a family of linear sulphated polysaccharides extracted from red seaweeds.

Limu has been recently promoted for cancer treatment.

Review article
Mar Drugs. 2015. Marine polysaccharides from algae with potential biomedical applications. There is a current tendency towards bioactive natural products with applications in various industries, such as pharmaceutical, biomedical, cosmetics and food. This has put some emphasis in research on marine organisms, including macroalgae and microalgae, among others. Polysaccharides with marine origin constitute one type of these biochemical compounds that have already proved to have several important properties, such as anticoagulant and/or antithrombotic, immunomodulatory ability, antitumor and cancer preventive, antilipidaemic and hypoglycaemic, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, making them promising bioactive products and biomaterials with a wide range of applications.