Generally, seaweed contains high ash content indicating appreciable amounts of minerals. Mineral content of seaweed can account for up to 36% of its dry mass and mineral macronutrients include sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, chlorine, sulfur, and phosphorus whereas the micronutrients include iodine, iron, zinc, copper, selenium, molybdenum, fluoride, manganese, boron, nickel, and cobalt. Among these minerals, calcium holds 4-7% of dry matter. At 7% calcium, a typical daily portion size of seaweed (8 g dry weight) provides 560 mg of calcium which is a considerable amount compared to its recommended daily allowance (800-1000 mg) (Anonymous, 2004). In seaweeds, calcium is available as calcium phosphate, and that is more bioavailable than the form of calcium in milk, which is calcium carbonate.
Seaweed is a primary source of iodine, and in some seaweed, iodine content exceeds its dietary minimum requirement (150 mg/day). The highest iodine content is found in brown algae (1500-8000 ppm), and in most instances, red and green algae have lower contents. Iodine amount in the seaweed remains comparatively high than that in the land plants. Since animal- and plant-derived foods are very low in iodine, seaweeds can be considered as the best inexpensive food to fulfill the iodine requirement of human.
Interestingly, seaweed contains considerably high amounts of iron and copper compared to food sources renowned to contain those minerals such as, meat and spinach (Holland et al., 1993). In addition, a normal portion size of brown seaweed, which includes species such as Laminaria and Undaria, provides more than 50% of the recommended daily allowance of magnesium. Therefore, seaweed can be used as a food supplement to fulfill most of the important mineral requirements of the body.
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