Can seaweed supplements prevent a flu epidemic?

Can seaweed supplements prevent a flu epidemic?

Fall is upon us yet again, and while you may not thinking of flu season just yet, it's never too early to prepare your immune system for the onslaught of sniffles and sneezes to come. Considering how severe the flu epidemic was across the country last winter – multiple states issued emergency warnings, in fact – there is no time like the present to boost your health. Seaweed, with its incredible amounts of vitamins, minerals and trace elements, can work wonders for your body's natural defenses – whether you choose to savor it in meals or take daily supplements.

In fact, a recent study conducted by the Aijinkai Healthcare Corporation in Japan has indicated that seaweed supplements may actually increase the effectiveness of flu vaccinations as well, particularly among older adults. 

"The elderly are known to have an inadequate immune response to influenza vaccine," the study abstract states.

Since fucoidan, a polysaccharide derived from brown seaweed, has been shown to improve immune abilities, the researchers decided to test its effects on this particularly vulnerable portion of the population. As the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains, flu vaccines work by increasing the production of antibodies in the blood that protect the body from various diseases. Over the course of four weeks, the scientists gave one group of elderly Japanese men and women a daily seaweed supplement, while the other got a placebo. Then, all of the participants received a flu shot.

The results? "In the immunocompromised elderly, [seaweed supplement] intake increased antibody production after vaccination, possibly preventing influenza epidemics," the researchers concluded.

Though the researchers worked with a seaweed extract, nothing can compete with the health benefits of seaweed for health in its whole form. Seagreens® brown wrack seaweed, available in capsule form, is wild-harvested in the Scottish Outer Hebrides and provides an unparalleled wealth of nutrients – including fucoidans!

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