What is Sea Moss, and What is It Good For?

Last Update: June 27, 2023

You already know that lots of healthy ingredients come from the ground, but some of the most beneficial ones on earth are found in our oceans—things like algae, kelp, and a fascinating sea plant known as “sea moss”. 

So what makes sea moss so special? Quite a lot, which is why you’ve likely noticed it at your favorite healthy grocers and popping up so frequently on social media. If you’re looking to boost your vitamin and mineral intake, sea moss might make a powerful addition to your daily routine. 

What is Sea Moss? 

Sea moss is a type of marine macroalgae—what you likely know as seaweed—that encompasses a diverse array of marine plants. The specific type of mossy algae that is known as sea moss (scientifically Chondrus crispus) grows on the rocky shores of the Northern Atlantic Ocean between North America and Europe. While the most common type of sea moss is red in color (this type is known as “Irish moss”), it also ranges from shades of green and yellow to purple, red, and even black. In its natural form, it grows in long, spiny tendrils that have an almost lettuce-like appearance when they’re growing under the sea.

Sea moss is an edible marine plant, similar to kelp and other seaweeds, and it’s incredibly high in nutrients. It’s consumed in different ways across various cultures all over the world: because it contains carrageenan, a substance similar to gelatin, it’s been historically used as a food-thickening agent. Unlike gelatin, which is made from animal byproducts, carrageenan is extracted from sea moss, which means it’s also acceptable for vegans. The carrageenan in sea moss has been used for many years to make puddings, thick beverages, ice creams and other foods. 

Sea Moss Benefits 

In more recent years, sea moss has become popular in the wellness industry because of its health-boosting potential. The marine plant is incredibly nutrient dense, and its benefits can support many mind and body functions. While scientific studies into the health benefits of sea moss are still quite new, it is a proven source of many essential vitamins and minerals. 

Thanks to certain nutrients it contains, sea moss may help to improve digestion, improve gut health, lower blood pressure, boost your immunity, and promote clear skin and healthy hair. Some people even use sea moss as a pre- or post-workout supplement thanks to its nutrition density, which aids in energy and recovery. 

Here are a few of the nutritional benefits of sea moss at a glance: 

Sea Moss Side Effects 

Like any supplement, you’ll want to exercise caution when incorporating sea moss into your routine. You should always consult with a trusted health professional if you’re concerned about taking a new supplement, and be aware of these potential side effects: 

  • Iodine toxicity. When consumed in large amounts, iodine can be dangerous to humans; because sea moss contains a fairly high amount of iodine, you’ll want to be cautious (especially if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding) 
  • Heavy metal toxicity. Similarly, sea moss can be high in heavy metals due to ocean pollution. In the same way that consuming too much sushi can put you at risk for heavy metal toxicity, consuming too much sea moss could expose you to too much mercury, lead, and other metals. To avoid this, look for sea moss brands that are transparent about testing their products for heavy metals. 
  • May cause inflammation or stomach pain. Some studies show that Carrageenan, an extract from sea moss that is used to thicken food,  may cause inflammation, bloating, IBS, and other ailments. 

How to Consume Sea Moss 

Sea moss is not often consumed in the same way as, say, a seaweed salad; instead, it’s ingested as a nutrition supplement in powder, pill, or gel form. There are many different types of sea moss, but like most supplements, the form you choose just depends on what works best for your routine. 

Sea moss gel

What it is: A product made from blending the algae with water, creating a thick, clear gel; One of the most common forms of sea moss

How to use it: Blend it into smoothies, use it to thicken nut milks and other beverages, add it to pudding or jam, use it to thicken soups and stews, replace eggs in some vegan dishes, use it to thicken homemade ice creams, or simply eat it by the spoonful 

Try it: Blender Bombs, Aloe & Irish Sea Moss

Sea moss powder

What it is: A highly concentrated powder made of dried sea moss 

How to use it: Add it to smoothies, use it to thicken soups and stews, sprinkle it on salads, mix it into teas or herbal beverages, add it to boost a green juice 

Sea moss capsules 

What it is: Sea moss in a convenient pill form 

How to use it: Take it daily like you would any other vitamin or supplement (Note: dosage may vary from person to person)

Try it: Codeage Raw Wildcrafted Sea Moss, Vegan Superfood Blend

Whole sea moss

What it is: Unprocessed sea moss harvested straight from the sea in its whole form; will appear stringy, tangled and similar to other common types of seaweed

How to use it: Can be used to make your own sea moss gel at home by boiling and mixing with water 

Topical sea moss for skincare

What it is: Sea moss in powder or gel form that has been mixed with other ingredients to create skincare products like creams, lotions, or masks 

How to use it: Depending on the product, sea moss can be used to treat acne, rashes, sunburn, or other skin conditions and irritations 

Try it: Cocokind Sea Moss Exfoliator 

 This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before changing your diet or healthcare regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. Thrive Market does not represent or warrant that the nutrition, ingredient, allergen, and other product information on our website is accurate or complete, since this information comes from the product manufacturers. On occasion, manufacturers may improve or change their product formulas and update their labels. We recommend that you do not rely solely on the information presented on our website and that you review the product’s label or contact the manufacturer directly if you have specific product concerns or questions.

This article is related to:

Nutrition, Supplements

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Amy Roberts

Amy Roberts is Thrive Market's Senior Editorial Writer. She is based in Los Angeles via Pittsburgh, PA.

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