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Kelp is a type of sea vegetable that is related to brown algae and is native to all oceans of the world. One of the most common sea plants known, kelp can be found growing in dense forests just off the coast of most continents. So-called kelp forests offer refuge and a food source to hundreds of different types of marine animals. Some types of sea kelp, such as bladderwrack, laminaria and rockweed are harvested and developed into dietary supplements.
Kelp can be extremely beneficial to humans. It is rich in essential nutrients, such as calcium, potassium and iodine, and can be easily manipulated into a dietary supplement. It is naturally high in iodine, which is not found in abundance in the diet and must be supplemented through either iodized salt or another means. Kelp may be beneficial to those with under-active thyroids (hypothyroidism) as it contains high levels of iodine, which is a major component of thyroid hormone. Many people with hypothyroidism also lack sufficient amounts of this vital nutrient in their diets.
In addition to being a great source of iodine, kelp is loaded with natural vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. The sea-sourced vegetable is often referred to as a superfood because it is high in essential minerals. When it comes to the health benefits of kelp supplements, the format doesn't seem to make a difference. Pills, powders and capsules are all equally effective.
While most people can supplement their diets with kelp without worrying, those that have or may have any type of thyroid condition should consult their doctors before beginning a kelp regimen. Instructions for use are included on the label of the kelp product of your choosing. It should only be used as directed. Kelp supplements are available in tablet, capsule, liquid and powder forms. Please keep in mind that kelp supplements may lose potency over time, so store as directed by the manufacturer and be aware of expiration dates.
Kelp supplements may cause nausea and diarrhea in some users. If this occurs, you should stop using the supplements immediately and call a doctor if conditions do not improve. A small percentage of the population is sensitive to iodine and may develop thyroid problems if kelp is consumed in large amounts. If symptoms of thyroid problems develop while using kelp supplements, stop using them and consult your physician. It is recommend that pregnant and nursing women should not take kelp supplements, as they have not been proven safe in this population. Individuals with thyroid abnormalities or a history of thyroid problems should also consult a physician before consuming a kelp product, as it may interfere with the effectiveness of some medications.