Health Benefits of Bladderwrack and the Importance of Iodine
What is iodine and why do we need it?
Iodine is a mineral that the body needs in order to make thyroid hormones. They modulate the body’s metabolism, and are also needed for proper bone and brain growth and development during pregnancy and infancy. This makes it especially important for infants and women who are pregnant to get enough. Even mild deficiency during pregnancy can have effects on delivery and the developing baby, all pregnant and breastfeeding women need to ensure they are getting enough in their diet.
Iodine deficiency can lead to symptoms similar to hypothyroidism, which is a result of low thyroid hormones. These include fatigue, hair loss, feeling cold, dry skin, unexplained weight gain, and memory or learning difficulties. It can also lead to swelling of the thyroid gland known as goiter; without adequate iodine, the thyroid progressively enlarges as it tries to keep up with demand for thyroid hormone production.
Iodine can only be obtained in the diet and can’t be made by the body. Food contains little iodine unless it is added during processing such as of Iodised salt, fortified breads or cereals. Iodine is present naturally in soil and seawater. It is found in some foods for example dairy, such as milk & yoghurt; but most is found in the ocean, especially sea vegetables and seafood - These are some of the most reliable and natural sources of Iodine.
Is bladderwrack a beneficial source of iodine?
Seaweed is a really good source of iodine – one of the best! Seaweed also provides many more nutrients than just iodine, offering a wider range of health benefits than salt or iodine supplements.
Bladderwrack is a type of edible brown seaweed. Its scientific name is Fucus vesiculosus, but other common names include Seawrack, Black Tang or Rockweed. It has high iodine content, trace minerals, fibre and Vitamin B12.
What are the health benefits of bladderwrack?
- Supporting thyroid, energy levels and weight Management
The rich iodine content of bladderwrack can improve thyroid health, helping the thyroid gland to control the metabolism. A healthy thyroid and supported metabolism can promote energy levels and make it easier to lose weight. Some people also say that bladderwrack helps to supress the appetite, which can help to reduce calorie intake throughout the day, promoting further weight loss in the long term.
Bladderwrack contains a type of dietary fibre known as alginic acid, this can aid digestion. Some people therefore choose to take bladderwrack to help relieve constipation or diarrhoea.
Bladderwrack contains beta-Carotene, an antioxidant that is associated with healthy eyesight, and in helping to protect against macular degeneration, and cataracts.
- Promote healthy mineral levels
Bladderwrack also contains a number of other minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium. These are all important to the overall health and function of the body.
- Antioxidant support
Bladderwrack contains some phenolic compounds which may support overall health. This includes flavonoids like fucoxanthin another member of the carotenoid family. Antioxidants work to protect cells from free radical damage.
You can add bladderwrack easily to your diet through use of supplements. Powders, tablets and capsules are available. For Hellenia we manufacture bladderwrack in tablet form so you can conveniently take just one or two tablets per day. They are suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
As always it is important to consult your doctor if you are taking any existing medication before adding additional supplements to your diet. With bladderwrack in particular it is advisable to discuss it with your GP beforehand if you are taking any other thyroid medication.