Seaweeds are rich sources of some important minerals and vitamins. In particular, seaweeds contain good amounts of iodine, calcium, and iron among others. Iodine content of seaweeds is incomparable with the highly consumed terrestrial vegetables as seaweeds are much better sources of iodine. However, amounts are varied with phylum, season, and environmental, geographical, and physiological variations. Brown algae have recognized as much important sources of iodine and have utilized extensively for the prevention and treatment of iodine deficiency goiter. Further, scientific reports link the potential of iodine in inhibiting tumorogenesis with the high amount of iodine in some seaweed species (Funahashi et al., 1999). In line with this capability of iodine in seaweeds, epidemiological studies suggest that high dietary seaweed content must have accounted for the low prevalence of breast cancer in some countries of Asia.
Seaweeds are also rich sources of calcium which provides a greater potential to be used in functional food developments attributed to their higher calcium concentration and easy assimilation (in the form of calcium carbonate) in to the body compared to calcium in cow's milk (in the form of calcium phosphate). Further, seaweeds provide good sources of vitamins such as vitamin E, A, and B12 and have a greater potential to be exploited in functional food categories in demand (Berg et al., 1991).
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