encyclopedia

Alginates (Supplement)

Natural Sources:    

Kelp (Laminaria digitata Lmx. [Fam. Laminariaceae])    
     
Forms:    

Dried and powdered alginates; aqueous extract of alginates (mucilage/gel).    
     
Therapeutic Uses:   

– Anti-inflammatory
– Antioxidant
– Cellular Regeneration
– Cleansing
– Detoxifying
– Diarrhea
– Digestive Disorders
– Gastrointestinal Disorders
– Goiter
– Iodine Deficiency
– Laxative
– Lethargy
– Mineral Deficiencies
– Vascular Deficiencies
– Weight loss     
             
     
Overview:    

Alginic acid and alginates are complex polysaccharides found in kelp (Laminaria digitata Lmx. [Fam. Laminariaceae]) that have many food, medicinal and industrial uses. Organic derivatives of alginates are used as food gums in making ice cream, puddings, and processed cheeses. Alginates have a soothing and cleansing effect on the digestive tract and are known to prevent the absorption of toxic metals like mercury, cadmium, plutonium and cesium. Studies have shown that alginate supplements can reduce strontium-90 absorption from the intestinal tract by as much as 83%. The U.S. Atomic Energy Commission advocates 2 tablespoons of alginate supplement per day to prevent strontium-90 absorption and related diseases. Kelp alginates are also hydrasorbent laxatives, compounds that swell to 20 times their original volume by absorbing water, which is much greater than other types of bulk laxatives such as psyllium and bran. Kelp alginates are effective in treating habitual constipation and gastric bloating because they swell in intestinal juices rather than water or gastric juices and are non-irritating. Alginates are also an excellent source of dietary soluble fiber. In 1998, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the use of a health claim in the labeling of foods and dietary supplements containing soluble fibre. The health claim states that, «diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include 7 grams of soluble fiber per day may reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol». Clinical studies have also shown significant benefits for soluble fibre in reducing high vascular tension in people having diets low in protein, fiber, or both. Alginate extracts may contain significant quantities of iodine. Iodine is an essential mineral that is particularly effective for helping women overcome fibrocystic breast disease. Iodine is also a major component of thyroxine and triiodothyronine, hormones that affect weight gain and cellular metabolic rates.    
             
     
Chemistry:    

Alginates are complex polysaccharides containing alginic acid (algin) as the major component; fucoidan and laminarin (sulphated polysaccharide esters). Minerals: iodine; calcium; potassium; magnesium; phosphorus; iron and silicon. Total iodine varies between 0.1 to 0.8%, based on dry weight.    
             
     
Suggested Amount:    

The recommended dosage of alginates is one to two tablespoons per day.    
             
     
Drug Interactions:    

The iodine content in alginate supplements may cause hyper- or hypothyroidism, if taken in excessive amounts, and may interfere with existing treatment for abnormal thyroid function.    
             
     
Contraindications:    

The iodine content in alginate supplements may cause hyper- or hypothyroidism, if taken in excessive amounts, and may interfere with existing treatment for abnormal thyroid function. In view of this, ingestion of alginate supplements containing significant quantities of iodine is contraindicated for children. The iodine content in alginates may cause acne eruptions in adolescents and may aggravate pre-existing acne. Elevated urinary arsenic concentrations have also been traced to the ingestion of kelp products. As such, alginate supplements used as a food and/or for a medicinal product should not exceed arsenic levels above 3.0 ppm and lead levels above 10.0 ppm based on the internationally recognized Food Chemicals Codex.    
             
     
Side Effects:    

Hyperthyroidism can be caused by the excessive ingestion of iodine. Typical symptoms of hyperthyroidism include: weight loss, sweating, fatigue, heart palpitations and frequent soft stools. The iodine content in kelp products has been associated with acne eruptions and may aggravate pre-existing acne. Elevated urinary arsenic concentrations have also been traced to the ingestion of kelp products. As such, alginate extracts used as a food and/or for a medicinal product should not exceed arsenic levels above 3.0 ppm and lead levels above 10.0 ppm based on the internationally recognized Food Chemicals Codex.    
             
     
References:     
     
Bliss DZ, Jung HJ, Savik K, Lowry A, LeMoine M, Jensen L, Werner C, Schaffer K. 2001. Supplementation with dietary fiber improves fecal incontinence. Nurs Res 2001 Jul-Aug; 50(4): 203-13.
 
Burke V, Hodgson JM, Beilin LJ, Giangiulioi N, Rogers P, Puddey IB. 2001. Dietary protein and soluble fiber reduce ambulatory blood pressure in treated hypertensives. Hypertension 2001 Oct; 38(4): 821-6.
 
Ghent, W.R, Eskin, B.A., Low, D.A. and L.P. Hill 1993. Iodine Replacement in Fibrocystic Disease of the Breast. Can J Surg 36 (5): 453-460.
 
Gong YF, Huang ZJ, Qiang MY, Lan FX, Bai GA, Mao YX, Ma XP, and Zhang FG. 1991. Suppression of radioactive strontium absorption by sodium alginate in animals and human subjects. Biomed Environ Sci 4 (3): 273-282.
 
Sutton A, Harrison GE, Carr TEF, and Barltrop D. 1971. Reduction in the absorption of dietary strontium in children by an alginate derivative. Int J Radiat Biol 19 (1): 79-85.