The seaweed detox is a bath product that brings the health benefits of this sea algae to your bath-time. But does it work, is seaweed good for you, what nutritional benefits does it provide and is bathing in a dried extract really the best way to benefit from these?
First up, let’s take a look at seaweed nutrition and discover just why this abundant greenery has become a mainstay in spas and detox clinics and why it’s so freely added to health food mixes.
Seaweed has been branded a superfood by some, but the same could be said for pretty much every other food we eat. If someone wants to sell it to you and it has a high markup, you can guarantee it will be hit with that label at some point. The difference here is that seaweed may actually be deserving of such a status.
An ounce of seaweed contains 12 calories, most of which come from carbohydrates. There are marginal amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, less than 1 gram of protein (which means 240 calories will yield 20 grams) and plenty of manganese, folate, magnesium, calcium and riboflavin, as well as smaller amounts of vitamins A, C, K, E and B5.
It’s a multivitamin in weed form and if you can get around the taste and the fact that it’s basically a floppy weed from the sea, then your body will benefit.
Is Seaweed Good For You?
Seaweed is very low in calories and contains a wealth of vitamins and minerals, as discussed above. The problem is that seaweed in its raw form isn’t very appetizing and when it’s dried and processed, as is the case with nori, it contains high levels of sodium.
In such cases seaweed makes for a great alternative to salt or soy sauce when sprinkled over dishes and it also adds some quality nutrients to sushi and other Japanese dishes. But it should be eaten in moderation, treated as an accompaniment, flavoring or seasoning as opposed to a dish in itself.
What About the Seaweed Detox?
It’s unlikely that any of the vitamins found in seaweed can actually benefit your overall health simply by bathing in them. The same goes for anything really. If it was that easy then we wouldn’t need to eat a daily dose of fruit and vegetables and we wouldn’t need take a multivitamin, we’d just need to dissolve a few vitamin tablets in bath water and then reap the benefits.
However, it’s not entirely useless and there are many benefits to the seaweed detox. The outer epidermis can absorb some vitamins, oils and amino acids and these can improve the look, feel and conditioning of the skin and hair. Those vitamins won’t make it into your blood stream and most of the “65+ vitamins” that the product claims will not do anything at all, but there will certainly be enough there for you to notice a difference on the outside.
Combined with the soothing hot water and the smells of the sea wafting up from the seaweed, this can trigger feelings of relaxation that can remain with you hours after the bath. In that sense, it does work, but in the sense that it will somehow draw toxins out of your body or give you your daily dose of vitamins and minerals, it won’t work (nor do they claim it will).
For that, you need to be consuming something orally, preferably something loaded with antioxidants and superfood extracts like Detox Organics.
Different Types of Seaweed
Algae is far from the most appetizing of substances in its natural form. It’s literally pond scum, a term we also use to describe a worthless person. But far from worthless, algae is one of the most nutritious substances that we can eat. As mentioned above, seaweed falls under this classification, but there are four different types of algae:
- Blue-Green Algae: This includes spirulina, a superfood that is rich in vitamins and minerals and is packed full of protein.
- Green Algae: Mainly occurs in fresh water, most forms are microscopic and may only present as a thin scum.
- Brown Algae: A common form that includes kelp, an edible and tasty seaweed, and wakame, which is used for miso soup.
- Red Algae: A seaweed from which we get nori.
All types of algae listed contain species that are used in supplements and foods, with the brown and red being the most common when we talk about “seaweed”. But while algae is abundant and probably growing somewhere near you, you should resist the urge to collect it yourself. Algae can contain mycotoxins, which are incredibly toxic to humans and can lead to a number of neurological conditions. Seaweed can also be contaminated by human waste, because if it comes into contact with the sea then there’s a good chance that it has also come into contact with the mass of human detritus that we pump into it every day.
This is why supplement and food-grade algae are highly processed and tested, making sure nothing dangerous makes it into the end product.
When compared to many land vegetables, seaweed has a greater concentration of nutrients, far outweighing even the most nutrient-dense greens. It’s also a great source of iodine, something that many cultures are deficient in, but something that is added to many forms of table salt in the United States.
The only downsides to consuming large amounts of seaweed is the excessive amount of sodium and iodine, especially with the dried forms (and no one wants to eat this vegetable raw and wet). But if you can control the amounts of these minerals that you consume, then it’s a great source of quality carbs, vitamins, minerals and even protein, providing that enough of it is consumed.
There are easier and tastier ways to get the nutrients found in seaweed, but if you don’t object to the taste and can find a cheap source then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t add a little to your diet.