Though it has been extensively researched and proven to be an amazing natural health aide, brown seaweed is only just getting the recognition it deserves. As an excellent form of antioxidants, immune-booster, and an incredibly nutrient rich natural super-food, brown seaweed extract is quickly becoming the go-to health supplement.
The key to the amazing health properties of brown seaweed is its naturally-occurring Fucoidan. Found only in brown seaweed, brown algae, and a few forms of sea cucumber, this amazing substance is the ocean’s secret bounty. Wakame, mozuku, kombu, and hijiki are all sources of Fucoidan, although only one Fucoidan extract packs the incredible health benefits without any of the health risks that the others share.
What Seaweed is used for Fucoidan Extracts?
Fucoidan extract comes from many species of brown seaweeds. Other forms of brown algae and even some sea animal life – mostly sea cucumbers, urchins, and sea snails – have also been found to contain Fucoidan. There are nearly 2000 species of brown algae, and most of them have not undergone rigorous scientific studies to determine what molecular compounds may aid human health. One thing has been determined though – other forms of seaweed (green and red) have not been found to have any Fucoidan whatsoever.
Of the brown alga that has been researched, only mozuku, kombu, wakame, hijiki, bladder wrack and a few other forms of kelp have been proven to carry Fucoidan. Though there are more than a thousand research studies in the U.S. National Library of Medicine on the subject of Fucoidan, only three of the five major Fucoidan sources have been extensively researched for their benefits to the human body (wakame, kombu, and bladder wrack).
What Is the Extraction Process?
There are many different ways that a brown seaweed extract can be made. One of the more effective and natural extraction processes requires that the seaweed be rinsed in fresh water and then dried naturally over a series of weeks, without the use of harsh unnatural lights or heat. This allows the seaweed’s chemical composition to retain its integrity without the fracturing or fraying of molecular compounds in the seaweed, which can occur if unnatural means are used to dry the seaweed faster. After drying, the seaweed must be soaked again to reactivate the jelly-like outer skin of the seaweed, which can then be skimmed off and passed through a mesh to remove what trace fibers remain in the extract. This liquid gel can then be captured in a medicinal capsule, or can be allowed to dry once more into a powdered extract which can then be also be put into a pill form.
Liquid or Powdered Supplements?
Contrary to some beliefs, the natural drying processes do not dilute or damage the molecular compounds in the seaweed. In fact, reducing the extract to powdered form and protectively sealing it in a pill-casing allows the substance to better retain its natural chemical properties, as liquids are known to lose their effectiveness more quickly and can stagnate over time.
Powdered versus liquid supplement power are not the only misconceptions regarding Fucoidan. Check out the Frequently Asked Questions page for more details on this amazing natural wonder.
What is Present in Brown Seaweed Extract?
Brown seaweed extract is made up of a small number of compounds that have hugely beneficial and lasting effects on the human body. One major property of brown seaweed extract is its fucoxanthin, which is known to have lipid and cholesterol-burning properties – put simply, fucoxanthin is unmatched as a natural fat-burning dietary aid.
The Fucoidan from brown seaweed is scientifically classified as a ‘sulfated polysaccharide;’ a specific string of molecules that are shown to have remarkable effects on the human body. Sulfated polysaccharides are made up of xylose, galactose, glucose and fucose; these different forms of sugar combine to form a formidable complex sugar that helps cellular communication and function in the body.
Fucoidan has an incredible number of health benefits for the human body, not all of which can be summed up in a short paragraph. Suffice it to say, nearly one thousand research studies have been done on Fucoidan and have displayed this substance’s remarkable ability as an antiviral agent and immune system-/metabolism-booster. It has also been shown to have significant anti-cancer and anti-chemotherapy properties; in addition to protecting the body from the harmful effects of cancer, Fucoidan can also help mitigate some of the damage that chemotherapy and radiation therapy unintentionally does to healthy cells in the body.
The Secret Health Risks Manufacturers Won’t Tell You
In spite of Fucoidan’s amazing health benefits, there are some health risks you should be aware of. These are not side effects of Fucoidan, but rather lies and secret health risks that some manufacturers of Fucoidan extracts try to hide from their customers. It is important to be aware of the risks before you commit to any particular Fucoidan product.
All kombu and 90% of all wakame is produced on a massive scale in the Pacific Ocean surrounding Japan. This wakame cannot be trusted because of its proximity to the Fukushima nuclear power plant which, as of the tsunami in March of 2011, has been leaking radioactive waste in the Pacific Ocean surrounding Japan. All seaweed manufactured in the East Asian Pacific (which includes all hijiki and mozuku, as well) is contaminated, and products that claim their kombu, wakame, hijiki, and mozuku as their Fucoidan source should be met with suspicion if they do not specify where their seaweed is harvested.
Not all Fucoidan sources can be trusted. Hijiki, for example, is known to have levels of inorganic arsenic so high that the U.K., Canada, New Zealand, and other nations have condemned it as toxic and unfit for human consumption. Therefore, hijiki-derived Fucoidan extracts cannot be trusted, since they will contain a proportional amount of inorganic arsenic in a concentrated pill or liquid form. This is a fact that most (if not all) hijiki-refined Fucoidan products are happy to hide on their product pages.
Unverified Fucoidan Sources
Other Fucoidan producers are deceitful at their core. “Limu” is a buzz word that has been associated with Fucoidan for years – but what does it actually mean? In Tongan, the word is simply a name for a mythological god, with no link whatsoever to any form of algae or seaweed. In Hawaiian, the word simply means “algae,” which might sound promising – but there are over 60 forms of Hawaiian algae, some of which are toxic to humans.
**The reason this marketing term is so disreputable is because there is no scientific or common name for any form of brown seaweed, algae, or other source of Fucoidan that is associated with the word “limu.”
Most producers will not – perhaps cannot – reference what scientific species their Fucoidan came from. Despicably, some producers have been known to cite s. Divaricata as their seaweed source; this is a form of brown seaweed that has never been scientifically tested for its Fucoidan benefits – if it has any to speak of – or any of its potential health risks. These products are not to be trusted, and should be looked at skeptically by anyone with any regard for what sort of chemicals – natural or otherwise – that they are ingesting.
What types of seaweed have verifiable sources?
Of the more than 1000 research studies done on Fucoidan, the kind derived from the wakame (Undaria pannitifida) and kombu (saccharina japonica) have had the most research done and include the most recorded benefits, according to the U. S. National Library of Medicine.
Though the vast majority of East Asian seaweed is contaminated by the Fukushima radiation leaks, there are still options for obtaining untainted Fucoidan extracts. Wakame, widely regarded as the most beneficial and effective source of Fucoidan, is available from manufacturers who harvest their wakame from the Atlantic Ocean (Fucoidan Force™ is one such trustable manufacturer). Bladder wrack, while possessing an inferior non-complex form of Fucoidan, grows in the Baltic Sea and Atlantic Ocean, and is also safe from the effects of the Fukushima disaster.
Though Fucoidan is undoubtedly a very strong natural supplement, it is important that you select only organic and safely-grown Fucoidan extracts. Now that you are aware of the hidden risks to some Fucoidan manufacturers, you can safely make a decision on which Fucoidan product is right for you.