- Sea vegetables may be a better source of bioavailable iron than previously thought. One tablespoon of dried sea vegetable will contain between 1/2 milligram and 35 milligrams of iron, and this iron is also accompanied by a measurable amount vitamin C. Since vitamin C acts to increase the bioavailability of plant iron, this combination in sea vegetables may offer a special benefit.
- Brown algae (including the commonly eaten sea vegetables kombu/kelp, wakame, and arame may be unique among the sea vegetables in their iodine content. Some species from the brown algae genus Laminaria are able to accumulate iodine in up to 30,000 times more concentrated a form than sea water!
- Sea vegetables may be a unique food source not only of the mineral iodine, but also of the mineral vanadium. As part of their natural defense mechanisms, sea vegetables contain a variety of enzymes called haloperoxidases. These enzymes all require vanadium in order to function. Although this mineral is not as well known as some of the other mineral nutrients, it appears to play a multi-faceted role in regulation of carbohydrate metabolism and blood sugar. While research in this area is still in the preliminary stage and remains mixed in terms of results, vanadium may help to increase our body's sensitivity to insulin by inhibiting a group of enzymes called protein tyrosine phosphatases. It may also help us decrease our body's production of glucose and help us increase our body's ability to store starch in the form of glycogen.
- Unlike some other types of vegetables, sea vegetables do not appear to depend solely on common polyphenol antioxidants (like flavonoids) or terpenoid antioxidants (like carotenoids) for their total antioxidant capacity. Recent research from India makes it clear that a variety of non-flavonoid and non-carotenoid antioxidant compounds are present in sea vegetables, including several different types of antioxidant alkaloids.
- An increasing number of health benefits from sea vegetables are being explained by their fucoidan concent. Fucoidans are starch-like (polysaccharide) molecules, but they are unique in their complicated structure (which involves a high degree of branching) and their sulfur content. Numerous studies have documented the anti-inflammatory benefits of fucoidans (sometimes referred to as sulfated polysaccharides), and osteoarthritis has been an area of specific interest for these anti-inflammatory benefits. The sulfated polysaccharides in sea vegetables also have anti-viral activity and have been studied in relationship to herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2). By blocking the binding sites used by HSV-1 and HSV-2 for cell attachment, sulfated polysaccharides help prevent replication of these viruses. The sulfated polysaccharides in sea vegetables also have important anticoagulant and antithrombotic properties that bring valuable cardiovascular benefits.
- Sea vegetables may play a role in lowering risk of estrogen-related cancers, including breast cancer. Since cholesterol is required as a building block for production of estrogen, the cholesterol-lowering effects of sea vegetables may play a risk-reducing role in this regard. However, more interesting with respect to breast cancer risk is the apparent ability of sea vegetables to modify aspects of a woman's normal menstrual cycle in such a way that over a lifetime, the total cumulative estrogen secretion that occurs during the follicular phase of the cycle gets decreased. For women who are at risk of estrogen-sensitive breast cancers, sea vegetables may bring a special benefit in this regard.
While the broad range of minerals provided by sea vegetables make them a great addition to your Healthiest Way of Eating, Westerners are often not quite sure how to add more of these nutrient-rich foods to their meals. One easy way is to keep a container of kelp flakes on the dinner table and use it instead of table salt for seasoning foods. You can also experiment with adding your favorite sea vegetable to vegetable dishes, salads, and miso soups. They are easy to add to dishes as they require no cooking (see Tips for Preparing Sea Vegetables in the How to Enjoy section below). It is recommended to include 1 tsp of sea vegetables to your Healthiest Way of Eating each day.
- Digoxin (Lanoxin) interacts with LAMINARIALaminaria contains large amounts of potassium. Large amounts of potassium can increase the effects and side effects of digoxin (Lanoxin). Do not take laminaria if you are taking digoxin (Lanoxin).
- Medications for high blood pressure (ACE inhibitors) interacts with LAMINARIALaminaria contains large amounts of potassium. Some medications for high blood pressure can increase potassium levels in the blood. Taking laminaria along with some medications for high blood pressure might cause too much potassium in the blood.
Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril), ramipril (Altace), and others.
- Potassium supplements interacts with LAMINARIA
- Thyroid hormone interacts with LAMINARIAThe body naturally produces thyroid hormones. Laminaria might increase how much thyroid hormone the body produces. Taking laminaria along with thyroid hormone pills might increase the effects and side effects of thyroid hormones.
- Water pills (Potassium-sparing diuretics) interacts with LAMINARIALaminaria contains large amounts of potassium. Some "water pills" can also increase potassium levels in the body. Taking some "water pills" along with laminaria might cause too much potassium to be in the body.