From multivitamins to CBD, gummies have become the most popular form for supplements, according to Glanbia market research. But while you may recognize things like melatonin, vitamin C, and collagen gummies, there’s an increasingly popular kind that may be less familiar: sea moss gummies.
Maybe you’ve heard them mentioned if you’re on TikTok (or have friends who are), or you've spied a bottle at your local drugstore. But what exactly is sea moss, and why should you try it as a gummy or any other way?
“Sea moss — which commonly goes by the name Irish moss — is a red algae,” says Amy Kimberlain, RD, CDCES, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics who lives in Miami. Irish sea moss comes with a whole host of potential health benefits, according to the Cleveland Clinic, and may even be considered heart healthy, although a lot more research still needs to be done to determine its perks.
While you can consume sea moss in a variety of ways, including powders, gels, and pills, the gummy form has taken off. That may be due to the overall surge in gummy supplements for just about every health need, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“Gummies are just another trendy way to get sea moss, which is a ‘superfood’ at the moment,” says Mascha Davis, MPH, RDN, a Los Angeles–based registered dietitian-nutritionist and the author of Eat Your Vitamins. “Gummies taste good (they often have added sugar or other flavors) and are fun to eat, so they have gained a lot of popularity in recent years,” Davis adds.
Here, discover what you need to know about Irish sea moss gummies, whether the influencers are right (or not), and if they're really worth eating.
What Are Sea Moss Gummies?
Sea moss gummies, also known as Irish sea moss gummies, are a type of supplement, explains Kimberlain. They contain — no surprise here — sea moss. Sea moss, or Chondrus crispus, grows on the Atlantic coasts of Ireland, continental Europe, and North America, and has fan-like branches, according to Britannica.
“Typically, sea moss is harvested for the carrageenan it contains, and carrageenan is often used to thicken products,” says Kimberlain. Sea moss is also available in its raw state, Kimberlain adds, and is overall generally safe to consume. The raw form comes in an array of shades, from deep purple to a red or gold, and has a taste similar to clams or oysters, the Cleveland Clinic notes.
If you don’t like seafood, raw sea moss probably isn’t for you, but sea moss gummy supplements typically don’t have that same under-the-sea flavor, the Cleveland Clinic adds. In addition to sea moss, gummies may include other ingredients, whether it’s elderberry to mask the flavor and provide some additional vitamins and minerals (these berries contain vitamin C and calcium, according to the USDA), or evaporated cane juice to up the gummy’s sweetness. Pectin, a type of starch, is often included to give them their gummy-like consistency.
Common Questions & Answers
Functions of Sea Moss Gummies
Sea moss has been referred to as a superfood because of its purported health benefits. “Considered to be ‘nutrient-dense,’ sea moss is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, polyunsaturated fats, and antioxidants,” says Kimberlain. “Additionally, sea moss is low in calories and has a small amount of protein.” Here are the theoretical functions of sea moss (and sea moss gummies), according to the Cleveland Clinic:
- Nutritious (contains vitamins, minerals, and “healthy” fats)
- May help heart health
- Could promote gut health
- Might contribute to healthy weight maintenance
- May benefit gut health
- Might aid in muscle recovery
Forms of Sea Moss Gummies
If you want to consume sea moss for its potential health perks, you can get it in a variety of ways. For example, you can eat it raw (it’s typically sold in pouches at health food stores), or in supplement form, whether that’s capsules, gummies, gel, or powders. Kim Kardashian, for example, shared on Twitter that she adds sea moss powder to her smoothies.
As for sea moss gummies, these vary as well:
- Natural store-bought sea moss gummies
- Organic store-bought sea moss gummies
- Homemade sea moss gummies
Just know before you buy: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says the term “natural” may be used when nothing artificial has been added to the product, but according to the University of Texas in Austin, “natural” products may be genetically modified and produced with pesticides, and may not be any healthier than products that don’t use the word “natural.” So if you see the term “natural,” for example on the label of the sea moss gummy brand Wixar Naturals, take that with a grain of salt.
As for organic, it is a regulated term, per the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). They take into account all sorts of factors, from the soil quality to pest and weed control, and the use of soil additives. One brand, Wild & Organic, contains a mix of organic and nonorganic ingredients.
As for homemade sea moss gummies, you can find recipes online, whether it’s vegan varieties, like those from That Girl Cooks Healthy, to those flavored with elderberry (a common pairing with sea moss) from Good Food Baddie. Creating them yourself does require a number of steps, such as making your own sea moss gel, and they do, like the store-bought gummies, contain forms of sweeteners, like apple juice, maple syrup, or agave nectar.
Potential Health Benefits of Sea Moss Gummies
Eager to embark on your sea moss gummy journey? Unfortunately, the research doesn’t go too deep when it comes to the supplement's health benefits, or sea moss in general.
“There are not too many studies overall and definitely more are needed to confirm the findings, not to mention that the studies that have been done are quite small,” says Kimberlain.
Here are some potential perks of Irish sea moss gummies.
Sea Moss May Provide Valuable Nutrition
If you want to score more vitamins and minerals, like calcium, magnesium, vitamin A, and phosphorus, you’ll find them in sea moss, according to the USDA. It also contains antioxidants, says Kimberlain, which are substances typically found within food that can delay or prevent cell damage in the body, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. One study, published in the July 2021 Toxicology Reports states that red algae will have a lot of pharmaceutical value in the future, thanks to its high antioxidant levels.
Sea Moss (or Seaweed) May Benefit Gut Health
Gut health is getting a lot of buzz these days, with more and more people looking for products and foods that can help their gut. Sea moss gummies may fit into that category: A review published in the June 2021 Marine Drugs looked at seaweed (so not technically sea moss, but they’re in the same family), and found that certain components in seaweed helped the gut microbiome. “This is a preliminary finding, but it’s showing that sea moss could act as a prebiotic — which is food for the probiotics — and in turn support gut health,” says Kimberlain. Prebiotics are plant products that act as “fertilizer” to encourage the growth of the good bacteria in your gut, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Sea Moss May Lower Your Cancer Risk
The carrageenan in sea moss is typically used as a thickening agent in processed foods, but it may have a role beyond that. A review published in the journal Molecules in November 2019 found that the carrageenan in sea moss might fight cancer. “The components found in sea moss showed signs of anti-cancer activity, which is promising,” says Kimberlain. The study also noted that carrageenan could make anti-cancer drugs more effective. Still, much more research needs to be done. The studies were conducted in mice or test tubes, Kimberlain says, and would need to be conducted in humans.
Sea Moss Might Help Your Immune System
We’re all trying to improve our immune system these days — so could sea moss give yours a boost? One review of research published in the June 2021 issue of Marine Drugs noted that seaweeds in general are “immunomodulatory” (meaning they stimulate or suppress the immune system, whether that’s to help fight an infection, cancer, or other diseases in the body, per the National Cancer Institute). Most of the studies that test its impact on the immune system have been done in a laboratory setting, thus human studies need to be conducted to show whether sea moss gummies should be part of people's immune-boosting arsenal.
Sea Moss Could Be Heart Healthy
Many point to sea moss as potentially heart-healthy because of its fiber, but the problem is that fiber is present in the raw sea moss but not so much in the gummies. For example, one serving of True Sea Moss gummies contain just 0.2 g of fiber, which is not even 1 percent of your daily fiber needs.
A study published in the December 2021 Atherosclerosis and Thrombosis did find that people who consumed seaweed (a cousin of sea moss) had a reduced risk of total stroke. Still, the study authors found this to be true only in the male participants. The study authors pointed to seaweed's potential heart-healthy components like potassium (which you will get from sea moss in small amounts) flavonoids (which are substances that act as antioxidants), and fiber (which sea moss gummies don’t deliver).
Sea Moss Might Aid Muscle Recovery
Looking to recover faster after your workout? “There’s a small study that may suggest that red seaweed can help with muscle recovery, possibly because of the protein content,” says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, who practices in Chicago. For the study, published in October 2018 by the Asian Journal of Medical Sciences, subjects were given three sea moss capsules per day and did see a benefit in exhaustion, fatigue, and pain (though the study had only 80 participants). It is important to note that the study was done with capsules, not gummies, and most sea moss gummies contain next to no protein, so the effects may not be the same.
Weight Loss Effect of Sea Moss Gummies
Many influencers on social media tout sea moss gummies for weight loss. And the Cleveland Clinic says that might be true, thanks in part to sea moss’s fiber, which can help keep you full and not craving food and snacks. But, as mentioned earlier, sea moss gummies don’t actually contain much fiber.
One review, published in August 2020 in the journal Nutrients, found that the anti-obesity effect in micronutrients may be due to a positive impact on gut bacteria, or because they trigger chemical pathways in the body that help prevent the accumulation of body fat. The studies they reviewed were done on animals, with much larger amounts of sea moss than you find in gummies, so more research needs to be done to test the effect in humans.
Potential Risks and Side Effects of Sea Moss Gummies
While Irish sea moss gummies likely taste pretty good thanks to additional ingredients like elderberry and apple juice, and are generally tolerated by many, there are some things to be aware of before you buy your first container.
First, a general precaution regarding sea moss. “We still have a lot to learn about the safety and efficacy of sea moss,” says Kimberlain. “Where sea moss is harvested can change its nutritional value, which means that it’s quite variable in what it may provide depending on where it was grown.” Discover some of the risks and side effects of Irish sea moss.
They May Contain Heavy Metals
A reason to think twice before buying? “One important note is that sea moss can contain heavy metals,” Kimberlain says. According to the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), heavy metals are metals and metal compounds like mercury and lead that can negatively impact a person’s health. In very small amounts they are necessary for life, but in large amounts they can be toxic, OSHA adds.
They May Up Inflammation
While carrageenan (which is found in sea moss) has long been used as a thickening agent in processed foods, and some studies do show it has health-promoting aspects, it has created a buzz in the past few years because some say it can lead to inflammation and other health woes.
Research has raised some of these red flags. For example, a review published in May 2017 in Frontiers in Pediatrics found that carrageenan in foods might create an inflammatory response in the intestine. Researchers often give animals carrageenan in studies to produce intestinal inflammation, and they note that human cells likely respond in the same way (though more studies need to be done to determine the impact of carrageenan).
They Contain Iodine
While manufacturers of sea moss tout the iodine it contains as a benefit, Kimberlain notes that too much iodine can create issues. “If there are excessive amounts of iodine consumed, that can lead to thyroid problems,” says Kimberlain. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health notes that excess iodine can lead to too much thyroid hormone production, which can lead to hyperthyroidism.
“People with Graves’ disease, Hashimoto’s, or thyroiditis would not want to consume foods that affect or impact their thyroid, when they’re already managing conditions that impact their thyroid,” Kimberlain adds.
One study, published in the August 2020 issue of Environmental Science and Pollution Research International looked at 30 samples of red seaweeds sold at stores, and found that Irish moss had the highest iodine content, and its levels can greatly contribute to the recommended daily intake of iodine for children (thus, children may want to avoid sea moss, considering they require a lower amount of iodine and they’re likely getting it from other sources).
They Are Likely Not Safe for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women
Because of the potential heavy metals, which groups like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists warn against, high iodine levels (one past study says even a little excess iodine is too much for pregnant women), and the lack of research on these gummies, pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid them. For these reasons, children should probably skip them, too.
There’s been a lot of talk that taking these gummies might improve fertility, but there’s zero research directly showing they have any impact in that department.
They Aren’t Strictly Regulated
Sea moss gummies are considered a supplement rather than a food, and with that comes a host of questions. The FDA does not assess the safety and efficacy of supplements before they’re sold, it notes, meaning there's been no official sign-off on any of these products. Because of that risk, you should talk with your doctor or registered dietitian before taking these gummies.
They Likely Pose Risks for Those on Blood Thinners
If you’re on blood-thinning medication, you’ll want to think twice before taking sea moss gummies. That’s because sea moss was found to have blood-thinning properties in a study published November 2017 in the journal Natural Product Research.
Sea moss gummies may increase your intake of iodine, and people may experience these side effects if they consume too much iodine, according to the National Institutes of Health:
- Burning of the mouth, throat, and stomach
- Stomach pain
- Weak pulse
Who Should Take Sea Moss Gummies?
Healthy adults who aren’t pregnant or breastfeeding, or don't have thyroid issues or take blood-thinning medications, may not have any issues with sea moss gummies.
That said, should you really take them? Kimberlain isn’t convinced. “I always recommend to look and see what it is that you’re currently eating and from there see how you might be able to improve,” Kimberlain says. “Supplements aren’t always needed if you’re getting what you need from an overall general healthy eating pattern,” she says.
As for who should avoid them? Opt against them if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, have thyroid issues, or are taking blood-thinning medications. Children should steer clear.
Also, there’s the cost to factor in. “Sea moss can be pricey, so if you are trying to save some money on your groceries and supplements — and who isn’t? — you’ll be okay without it,” says Davis. “If you like experimenting and trying new things, go ahead and give these a whirl. Just don’t expect any miracles, regardless of what the TikTok influencers say,” Davis adds.
How to Choose and Store Sea Moss Gummies
If you’re still considering this supplement, here are some general guidelines on how to select, store, and keep them.
Make sure you check the label first. “Look out for any unnecessary additives like sugar or artificial colors and flavors,” says Davis.
Many sea moss gummies also include ingredients like elderberry, bladderwrack (a brown seaweed), burdock root, and vitamin C. Make sure sea moss is one of the most prevalent ingredients (so you’re actually getting the sea moss you’re buying).
If you’re vegan, you’ll want to avoid sea moss gummies made with gelatin (which contains animal products), as well as eggs and dairy — check the label to make sure these ingredients aren’t present.
Also, some sea moss gummies contain organic ingredients, so if you’re trying to buy organic when possible, keep an eye out for those containers as well.
As a reminder, sea moss gummies are considered a supplement, and aren’t regulated by the FDA, so knowing which brand is best may pose a challenge.
According to MedlinePlus, you’ll want to store medicines in a cool, dark place, like your bedroom drawer or a kitchen cabinet that’s away from the stove or sink, so that the ingredients aren’t degraded.
If you make gummies yourself, some bloggers may suggest you store them in the refrigerator to extend their shelf life.
Dosage of Sea Moss Gummies
The typical dosage for sea moss gummies is two per day, and the amount of sea moss in each dose varies by brand. For example, some brands contain 1.2 grams (g) per dose (or 1,200 milligrams [mg]) while others contain 1.6 g (or 1,600 mg). If you buy it in capsule form you might get an even higher dose — for example, one brand of sea moss capsules contains 2 g (2,000 mg) per serving.
Before you click “purchase” on sea moss gummies, know that no safe dose has been established, says Kimberlain. “Research shows that consuming up to 4 g per day of sea moss didn’t pose any adverse health effects,” says Kimberlain. Just make sure you’re not enjoying a few extra gummies because they taste so good. “The one thing to still consider is the amount of iodine being consumed throughout the day, because that could lead to an excessive amount of total iodine,” said Kimberlain.
How to Make Sea Moss Gummies
Recipes for sea moss gummies usually contain a simpler ingredients list, which means they often have a short shelf life (so you might want to share some with your friends or make small batches).
The Irish sea moss gummies from That Girl Cooks Healthy include apple juice, agar agar powder, ginger, cinnamon, sea moss gel, and agave nectar, and keep in the refrigerator for five days. It simply requires heating up the ingredients in a saucepan, and then after some whisking, it’s ready to be poured in the mold.
Most recipes require you to make your own sea moss gel first, which involves soaking raw sea moss for several hours in water and then blending it. You can also buy premade sea moss gel and skip this step.
Even though there is some research that shows sea moss gummies may have a few health perks, like providing some vitamins and minerals, plus potentially helping your gut, there’s also conflicting evidence. People who are pregnant, breastfeeding, have thyroid issues, or are taking blood-thinning medications should avoid them (and so should children) considering the risk of too much iodine or heavy metals. Also, if you’re on a budget, sea moss gummies may be a costly (and potentially unnecessary) way to get in your vitamins and minerals.
“Bottom line: Always speak to your doctor or a registered dietitian-nutritionist before adding something like a supplement to your diet or eating pattern,” says Kimberlain.
Editorial Sources and Fact-Checking
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