The human body needs 16 essential minerals to survive — and even more to really thrive. According to the late Alfredo Bowman, the celebrated Honduran herbalist better known as Dr. Sebi, there are 102 minerals that make up the human body. And if you know anything about biology, you know that the human body does not anatomically produce minerals. Instead, minerals, such as calcium, iron, magnesium, sodium, and zinc, are absorbed from what we eat and drink.
Year after year, buzzy ingredients surface as dietary miracle products for delivering a host of vitamins and healthy minerals in just one serving. (It wasn’t long ago that we were all slurping warm bowls of bone broth for its savory cocktail of calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and sodium.) In 2020, that “it” ingredient is sea moss.
Sea moss, a species of red sea algae, has been consumed for centuries — indeed, it’s an ingredient that was popularized by Dr. Sebi decades ago. Commonly soaked, and blended into a gel, sea moss is often added to smoothies and fresh juices. It can also be ground and added to meals, or even taken as a supplement. In an era when health is top of mind, it has resurfaced as the of-the-moment nutrient-dense conduit for those essential minerals — and some bonus ones, too.
“Sea moss is reputed to have 92 of over 100 different minerals that the body needs,” says Jesse R. Brown, N.D., founder of the Detroit Wholistic Center on Detroit’s west side. “And because so many people have nutritional deficiencies and insufficiencies, it tends to help get the body into a stage of homeostasis.” Brown, who says he hosted Sebi at the Wholistic Center in the late ’80s, notes that consumers of sea moss may notice a boost in energy, better sleep, or improvements in skin or hair texture. The body’s response, he says, depends on a person’s nutritional deficiencies. “That’s one of the benefits of working things that are nutrient-dense into the diet.”
Another purported benefit of sea moss is its native environment. Marine vegetation, Brown says, offers nutrients that you may not obtain from traditional fruits, vegetables, or animal products. “Most of the plants we eat are above the ground, grown on soil that has been depleted of nutrients and minerals,” he says. “When we go to sea plant life, we get nutrients that we wouldn’t normally get, and we get them from clean sources.”
Brown recommends opting for wildcrafted sea moss when shopping for the superfood, which signifies that it was harvested in its natural habitat. “Wildcrafting may be more important than an ingredient being organic — not that not having chemicals in your food is not important, but wildcrafting means that it’s exposed to the challenges of its natural environment,” he says. “You end up getting the most brilliant, the most resilient, the strongest, and the most potent product that you can get.”
Though Brown says there’s not much harm that can come from incorporating sea moss into your diet — he has not seen instances of overdose or overconsumption of the algae — he does caution consumers to ensure that they’re getting healthy versions of sea moss. He recommends confirming that the products you purchase do not contain traces of heavy metals, lead, mercury, or toxic ingredients. “Sourcing is important,” he says. “Ask the supplier where it’s coming from and if there is testing that’s attached to that. Make sure it’s not coming from a place that has industrial pollution or radioactivity.”
And, as with any ingredient or supplement, Brown advises pairing sea moss with a healthy, balanced diet, including fruits, vegetables, and plenty of water, as well as regular exercise: “That’s going to increase the benefits of any ingredient.”
To learn more about Detroit Wholistic Center, visit detroitwholisticcenter.com.