Kelps are the largest members of the brown algae species. Norwegian kelp, or ascophyllum nodosum, grows abundantly on sheltered rock shores of the North Atlantic Ocean. As brown algae, this seaweed provides the same general benefits as all members of the kelp family. According to the Seaweed Industry Association, Norwegian kelp is very effective at accumulating nutrients and minerals from the surrounding seawater, making it a valuable resource for humans.
Your body depends on minerals for nearly every process. A 3.5-ounce serving of fresh kelp contains 168 milligrams of calcium, which is nearly 17 percent of the daily value set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration based on a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet. The same portion also provides 121 milligrams of magnesium, which is 30 percent of the DV. Calcium helps build and protect bones and teeth, and magnesium is needed for proper muscle contraction and blood clotting.
Vitamins are nutrients that don't provide energy but are necessary to many of your body's processes. Although they're needed in small amounts, they're essential for life. Each 3.5-ounce serving of fresh kelp contains 180 micrograms of folate, which is 45 percent of the DV, and 66 micrograms of vitamin K, which is nearly 83 percent of the DV. Folate, or folic acid, is essential for new cell formation and is linked to reduced risk for heart disease and colon cancer. Vitamin K is needed for proper blood clotting.
Brown seaweeds are well known for their medicinal effects because they contain substances such as phlorotannins, a type of tannin, according to an article published in "Advances in Food and Nutrition Research" in 2011. The authors noted that extensive investigations have been done -- both outside and inside living organisms -- to determine the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and anti-diabetic potential of brown seaweed due to phlorotannins. The study results suggested that brown seaweed has promising potential as a therapeutic agent.
Iodine, a trace mineral, plays an important role in making thyroid hormones, which are essential for your body's normal growth and development. About 70 to 80 percent of iodine is found in the thyroid gland in your neck and the rest is distributed throughout your body, particularly in muscles, blood and ovaries, according to University of Maryland Medical Center. Brown seaweed is an excellent source of iodine.
- Seaweed Industry Association: Ascophyllum Nodosum
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Seaweed, Kelp, Raw
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Guidance for Industry: A Food Labeling Guide
- Harvard Medical School: Harvard Health Publications: Listing of Vitamins
- Advances in Food and Nutrition Research: Medicinal Effects of Phlorotannins From Marine Brown Algae
- Seaweeds: Edible, Available, and Sustainable; Ole G. Mouritsen
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Iodine
- The Seaweed Site: Information on Marine Algae