Sea moss, also called Irish moss, is a type of edible red seaweed.
Celebrities have said they take it for better skin and less inflammation.
A dietitian said it has some good nutrients, but isn't necessary for a healthy diet.
They tout it for being rich in nutrients, being a secret skincare ingredient, and even boosting brainpower.
Here's what it actually does, and whether you should add it to your routine.
What is sea moss?
Sea moss, also known as Irish moss or Chondrus crispus, is a type of edible red seaweed. It's the source of carrageenan — an ingredient commonly used as a thickener in milk products like ice cream, according to Cleveland Clinic.
Sea moss can be purchased raw, in the form of supplements, or, most commonly, in the form of a gel. It is touted as being rich in nutrients, like folate, vitamins k and b, iodine, iron, magnesium, zinc, and calcium, The New York Times reported.
Bonnie Taub-Dix, registered dietitian and author of "Read It Before You Eat It — Taking You from Label to Table" told Insider that while sea moss "can have benefits," you don't need it as part of a healthy diet.
Celebrities promote sea moss for anti-inflammation and good skin
Proponents of sea moss say it has many benefits, from clearing skin, to reducing bloating, to helping you breathe better, and even eliminating toxins from your body.
There's not much research yet backing that claim up. Still, Taub-Dix said that sea moss does have some good nutritional properties.
Notably, sea moss is a good source of soluble fiber, Taub-Dix said. "Soluble fibers have been shown to help to keep us more full, it provides some fuel for the bacteria in your microbiome — which is a good thing."
Sea moss is also a good source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iodine, as well as vitamin C and A, Taub-Dix said.
Eating sea moss can be risky for some people
Despite its nutritional benefits, consuming sea moss isn't good for everyone, said Taub-Dix.
Sea moss contains iodine, which can be problematic for some people. Iodine is necessary for creating hormones, but too much can cause thyroid dysfunction in those who already have thyroid issues, said Taub-Dix.
Eating sea moss can also lead to blood thinning, Taub-Dix said, which can be an issue if you're on blood thinners or have a health condition in which blood thinning could be dangerous.
Carrageenan found in sea moss has also been linked to increased inflammation, Taub-Dix said, which is why some advocates argued that carrageenan should be removed from foods back in 2016. The link between carrageenan and inflammation is not definitive and is still being researched, however.
Additionally, "sea moss can accumulate toxic metals like arsenic or mercury or lead," Taub-Dix said. "There could be a health risk with that as well."
How to try sea moss
If you do want to try sea moss, Taub-Dix said to start small and just try a little bit since "you don't know what it can affect and have an impact on."
But to answer the big question, do you need sea moss in your diet to be healthy?
Taub-Dix said, "I'm going to have to say a resounding no."
Read the original article on Insider