Leading scientists are looking toward seaweed
and aquaculture to find numerous applications in the
modern world because of their composition and ability
to grow just about anywhere in the ocean.
According to researchers, “Seaweeds are abundant
and ancient autotrophic organisms that can be found
in virtually all near-shore aquatic ecosystems. They
form an important living resource of the near-shore
environment. For millennia, people have collected
seaweeds for food, fodder for animals as well as fertilizers
and soil enhancers. More recently, seaweeds have become
important sources of various bioreactive molecules, and
are important in medicine and biotechnology. Containing
phycocolloids, or polysaccharides, they are also used in
toothpaste, soaps, shampoos, cosmetics, skin care, milk,
ice cream and many other items.”¹
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of
the United Nations, seaweed use has increased 176% since
1995, and predictions have an even greater growth in the
future. The benefits of seaweed for health and well-being
have been studied for many years, but there is a renewed
interest in seaweed as a sustainable and plentiful source
of important ingredients to help treat many pathologies,
including the most complex of organs—the brain.
“Seaweeds produced under controlled conditions offer
boundless opportunities to satisfy the known requirements
for brain health and could readily play important roles in
improving overall human health and well-being.”²
Origin and Composition
The sea covers over two-thirds of our planet, and,
perhaps as no coincidence, the human body is made
of two-thirds water as well. Researchers point out the
almost uncanny similarity between seawater and human
plasma, our intercellular fluid.
The first form of life was derived from unicellular
marine microalgae, which appeared in the ocean more
than 3. 5 billion years ago. The oldest marine macroalgae
fossils found are at least 1. 2 billion years old. Today,
at least 40,000 different species of marine micro- and
macroalgae have been identified worldwide. Scientists
believe that marine algae may produce more than 60%
of the earth’s oxygen.
Seaweed is a powerful concentration of seawater.
One liter of seaweed contains the same concentration
of elements as 10,000 liters of seawater. Seaweeds have
no roots, stems or leaves, but rather parallel structures
including holdfasts, stipes and blades, respectively.
They are able to uptake minerals by absorption and
active transport from seawater and have close symbiotic
associations with bacteria for important vitamins
necessary for their growth. Because of these processes,
some seaweeds become a dense concentration of
vitamins, minerals, trace elements, macro-elements,
phytohormones, amino acids, proteins and lipids.
Seaweed needs light for photosynthesis, which
converts light energy into chemical energy, producing
sugars and oxygen. The colors of seaweeds are
determined by photosynthetic pigments including
chlorophylls, phycobiliproteins, xanthophylls and
carotenoids. Seaweeds also contain compounds such as
mycosporine-like amino acids that protect them from
Seaweed and Skin Care
For centuries, people have turned to the sea for its
renewing properties. Thalassotherapy, which was named
Laminaria digitata is a natural source of vitamins B, C, E and K.