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Kelp Benefits: Health from the Sea

Kelp Benefits Kelp benefits - yes that means seaweed - is one of the biggest kids on the block when it comes to researching health and wellness supplements.

Kelp is a sea vegetable that has been consumed by Eastern countries for years, but is only now beginning to make its way onto the North American plate.

And research studies are proving just how valuable kelp is to our health. For example, there is now conclusive evidence that Japanese women, whose diets are rich in kelp, have lower rates of ovarian, endometrial and breast cancer.

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Although kelp eaten raw is a bit of an acquired taste, the good news is there are now kelp supplements available for everyone to benefit, even if they are not a big fan of sea-food.

And the even better news is that kelp is a very sustainable plant. It grows exceptionally fast at rates of 20 inches per day. So when it is harvested just a few feet from the surface, it can grow back fully within 10 days!

Overview of Kelp Benefits:

  • Excellent source of vitamins and minerals: Kelp has been shown to contain 46 minerals, 16 amino acids (the building blocks of protein) and 11 different vitamins. Prominent among the minerals are iodine, salt, iron, potassium, phosphorus and calcium. The lead vitamins in kelp are vitamin A and niacin.

  • Helps in Thyroid Gland Regulation: Due to Kelps high levels of natural iodine, it is essential in regulating our thyroid hormones and therefore our metabolism and energy levels.

  • Kelp helps in hydration. This may be particularly important to note when you have been ill or exposed to too much heat and sun. Make a soup or broth with kelp and rehydrate quickly.

  • Assists in Weight Management and Weight Loss: Due to kelp's iodine content and its role in thyroid function, one of kelps benefits is improving metabolism and energy. An iodine deficiency can slow your metabolic function by as much at 50 percent, so including kelp can naturally and significantly improve weight loss and other associated health problems.

  • Improves body pH: Kelp is an alkaline food and therefore an essential part of maintaining acid base balance in the body and an effective component in a healthy acid-alkaline diet.

  • Protects against Radiation Poisoning: Once again, due to kelp's high natural iodine levels, it prevents the thyroid from up-taking harmful levels of radioactive iodine present after a nuclear disaster. This has been particularly important since the recent nuclear fallout in Japan in 2011.

  • Cancer prevention: particularly in estrogen sensitive cancers such as breast, endometrial and ovarian cancers.

In addition, kelp benefits include the following properties: anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-tumor, anti-biotic, anti-viral, and immune-stimulating.

WOW! If that list doesn't put kelp at the top of your shopping list, then keep reading...

Kelp Benefits and Cancer

There has been much study on kelp benefits for breast cancer individuals. This important estrogen and breast cancer connection has been demonstrated in a study at UC Berkeley where they found that a diet containing kelp lowered serum estradiol ('bad' estrogen) levels in women.

Kelp also contains something called 'fucoidan' which has been shown in studies to cause cell death, or apoptosis, in cancer cells. Essentially, kelp has superhero powers causing cancer cells to self-destruct!

Colon and breast cancer have both been singled out as showing a reduced risk with kelp supplementation. And it should not be a surprise, that Japanese woman, whose diets are high in kelp, have the lowest rates of breast, ovarian and endometrial cancer in the world!

Kelp Benefits and Thyroid

Some researchers estimate that 15 percent of women have moderate to severe iodine deficiency, many of whom are not even diagnosed.

Kelps high iodine content can help to reverse this condition of hypothyroidism and promote the body's production of thyroid hormones, necessary for maintaining a healthy metabolism.

If hypothyroidism is a condition you suffer from, kelp can be a natural treatment that you may want to consider. It is advised to speak to a naturopath or holistic nutritionist to make sure this is a good choice for your particular needs.

Kelp Benefits for your Animals

Who ever heard of feeding seaweed to your animals?

Holistic Veterinarians of course - and for over 80 years no less. When Dr. Juliette de Bairacli Levy first introduced the concept of kelp benefits in the 1930s, she received much mockery, but today we know better than to mock those who are ahead of their time.

Kelp is now widely used and accepted as a valuable and inexpensive feed supplement for all livestock including horses and dogs. It is recommended in prominent books like "The Veterinarians Guide to Natural Remedies for Dogs" for cancer, heart disease, mange, old age, stool eating and thyroid regulation.

Doses and Toxicity of Kelp

Kelp side effects are rare, but do occur occasionally with mega doses. Due to kelps potent iodine content, the FDA has recommended a daily limit of kelp that provides no more than 225 micrograms of iodine, however independent research studies have shown that most people tolerate and even flourish on iodine supplements of up to 50 milligrams per day.

For optimum breast health for instance, you need to consume 10-15 milligrams per day.

A typical daily serving according to Japanese and Icelandic diets would be 15 grams of kelp (3 tablespoons), which is the equivalent of 12 milligrams of iodine.

If you are overdosing, common side effects include: an unpleasant taste in the mouth, skin break-outs and a runny nose.

If you are already being treated for a thyroid condition by your doctor, be sure to check the interaction of kelp on the meds you are taking.

Also, taking a kelp supplement is certainly very important, but as with all supplements, it is good to take a break from it each if you are including kelp as a daily supplement, do a routine of 3 weeks on - 1 week off.

This is a good suggestion with many of your daily supplements, and it is important to check in with a holistic nutritionist or your naturopath from time to time and re-test which supplements are appropriate for you at that particular time. You are constantly growing and evolving, so do not expect that one supplement will be beneficial your entire life.

Enjoy all the kelp benefits in your life!

Yours in Wellness,

Dr. Lisa

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