A new weight loss theory involves a diet that includes seaweed or seaweed supplements. The theory holds that seaweed as a diet supplement can improve metabolic function. There are two components found in seaweed that have been widely discussed regarding weight loss: iodine and fucoxanthin. More studies need to be done to substantiate the claims about seaweed consumption and losing weight. As Mayo Clinic nutritionist Katherine Zeratsky suggests, there is no substitute for a healthy lifestyle with diet and exercise, even if seaweed is proven to improve metabolic function.
Many people are overweight as a result of hypothyroidism, an under-active thyroid gland leading to metabolism problems. According to Phyllis A Balch, CNC and James F Balch, MD (see References), the thyroid cannot function without iodine. Although the thyroid gland uses only trace amounts of iodine, it is required to help metabolize excess fat. High levels of iodine are found in seaweed, but the body does not readily absorb iodine. Balch and Balch recommend taking Vitamin A when consuming iodine to improve absorption and reducing your chances of an iodine deficiency. By improving your levels of absorbed iodine, you may be able to restore your optimal metabolic rate and lose weight.
Fucoxanthin is a compound found primarily in brown seaweed. It is also found to a lesser extent in red and green seaweed. Wakame, an Asian kelp used in many soups, is the primary type of seaweed connected with weight loss. Studies conducted at Japan's Hokkaido University show promising indications that higher fucoxanthin in the diet can help obese rats lose weight. However, these studies are yet to be substantiated with human subjects, according to Andrew Weil, M.D. Theoretically, eating kelp, wakame or any other seaweed will not provide quantities of fucoxanthin large enough to successfully help humans lose weight.
While research has yet to confirm whether or not seaweed will help you lose weight, it is still a beneficial dietary food. It is low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Seaweed is also an adequate source of Vitamin A, C, E and K. You can also obtain Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorous and Riboflavin by consuming seaweed products. There are several other minerals you can obtain by consuming seaweed including folate, calcium, iron, copper, manganese and magnesium. There are concerns when eating a lot of seaweed. It is high in sodium and too much of it may cause hyperthyroidism which is also a dangerous condition. Always consult your doctor before implementing any new supplement or extreme diet programs to review the risks to you.