Seaweed used to be harvested from the rocks in the sea by Hebridean fishermen and burned for raw materials which were exported across the British Isles.
Now, after researchers have stated that Scottish seaweed pills can boost production of vital chemicals in the body, young females are being advised to take these pills.
A study which has been concluded by scientists based at Glasgow University has discovered that kelp extracted from wild wrack seaweed which can be collected in the Outer Hebrides is able to raise low iodine levels in young females and is equal to eating one and a half whole mackerel per day.
An iodine deficiency is known to be one of the main causes of an underactive thyroid, which results in feeling lethargic. This condition is also responsible for weight gain, brittle fingernails and sore muscles.
A milk iodine deficiency during pregnancy could affect a child’s development during the first nine years of life. This has led researchers to state that iodine deficiencies in pregnant women should be treated as a vital public issue.
The study was based on 42 females aged 25 who took seaweed supplement capsules for a two-week period.
Prior to the trial, their iodine consumptions was way below the daily recommended minimum of 140 micrograms (mcg), while more than 50% of the group were iodine insufficient.
After the trial period, the low iodine group showed a massive increase of the chemical in their systems, from 93 mcg to 262 mcg.
The report stated that iodine deficiency is a sustained problem in the UK and other European countries. This is due to low consumption of seafood and dairy products, particularly where iodine fortification has not been introduced.
The tests were done by using seaweed capsules that are commercially available to consumers and participants received a daily dosage. The participants were not pregnant, healthy females of childbearing age who reported low consumption of seafood and dairy products, and had no history of gastro-intestinal or thyroid disease.
This is the first time a study into the health benefits of seaweed has been done, although seaweed pills have become a fad during the past few years, with celebrities adding it to their diets.
A spokesperson for the Seaweed Health Foundation said that since the product, which is marketed by Scottish herbalists, Napiers, is dried at low temperatures, it generally tests over 100% higher in minerals and vitamins than products dried at high temperatures, using cheap commercial kelp.
Image Credit: Roy Saplin