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The Kelp Remedy-- Is it Safe or Not?

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By: Marketing Manager Intern- Kendall UMass Dartmouth, Michaella Lesieur

***Please note that this is not a medical document and you should seek your doctor.

Kelp is known for its nutritional benefits, showing up in recipes such as salads, pastas and more. A perfect addition to your meals and diet. Likewise, kelp is also used in beauty products such as lotions. However, what many people may not know is that it’s also used in medicine.

Kelp is like the superman of the ocean, when you think about all the reaping benefits from sustainability to nutrition it makes it seem like it has its own set of super-powers. Although, one must be careful when looking over to the medical consumption of the sea green.

The effects of kelp in medicine can be debatable. If used properly it can be beneficial and provide health benefits to the body and etc. However, people have to be careful on how much kelp they are consuming in all formats due to excessive amounts of iodine, which kelp is noted to have. When looking at kelp supplement brands such as Whole Foods Market, Nature’s Way, Ocean Green Organics and Country Life the one thing they all have in common is their own type of supplement.

UMass Dartmouth third year nursing student Lidya Aregawi finds this topic debatable. “This is an interesting topic because in my opinion, the first impression I get when hearing the word supplement is the curiosity of why; why is someone taking a supplement; are they sick, do they have a chronic illness? Also, I quickly get a negative connotation/view when I think of diets like these,” said Aregawi.

According to Cosmopolitan magazine kelp-based products can play a lofty role in weight loss, anti-aging and hair growth. Because kelp is made up of a great deal of vitamins it makes it a suitable remedy across the field. “Sea kelp is a natural source of vitamins A, B1, B2, C, D and E, as well as minerals including zinc, iodine, magnesium, iron, potassium, copper and calcium,” according to Cosmopolitan in an article published in 2013.

Likewise, Healthline agrees that kelp is very nutritious as well but must be used carefully too. “The National Institutes of Health (NIH) say that seaweed such as kelp is one of the best natural food sources of iodine, an essential component in thyroid hormone production. A deficiency in iodine leads to metabolism disruption and can also lead to an enlargement of the thyroid gland known goiter.” With anything in life there are always pros and cons to anything medical.

Consulting your doctor should be first priority before making any changes. “People considering this lifestyle should certainly consult with their healthcare provider about why they truly think this is a good idea, how they’ll shift to this in the most healthiest and gradual way without abruptly changing their diet,” suggests Aregawi.

Kelp is also said to assist in illnesses. According to Web MD kelp could also help in preventing cancer. By now you may be wondering whether the supplement or cooking may be better for you. Web MD suggests “While there are tons of kelp supplements out there, kelp is hard to standardize and the nutrition in supplements may be questionable. Go for the real deal instead,” they said. “You can find kelp at most health-food markets or the Asian section of your regular grocery store…”

This might seem like an easier option for some. “The pros are it is easier for busy people to be able to take a supplement rather than meal prep, cook accordingly,” said Aregawi. “The cons are that one can solely rely on their supplements- rather than eating foods that are healthy for us and think that they are a complete substitute to snacks and meal."

Of course, eating the actual thing might be better than looking to the supplement. “People should make sure to have precautions on the amount of supplements they take, truly ask themselves why they’re taking the supplement and if there’s any other way possible to achieve their goal without any supplements,” said Aregawi.

So, as you can see kelp is a staple and when used right it can help someone shine from the inside out. From dietary needs, to giving you a luscious main of hair to soft skin, kelp is continuing to grow in many industries and make a rapid appearance in various areas.

Aregawi reminds people we only live once so take care of the body you have. “These are the only bodies we’re given,” said Aregawi. “We need to be better advocates for ourselves and become more cautious of what we choose to put in our body.”

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