Alginate and alginic acids

Brown algae (Fucus and Ascophyllum nodosum) stays out of water for long periods of time at low tides.  It is the alginic acid that protects it from drying out by retaining the water. Alginic (algal) acid was discovered in the late19th century. It is a viscous substance, a polysaccharide of a complex molecular structure.

It absorbs liquids very well. One part of the acid can absorb up to 300 parts of water. That is why  the  Alginic acid  is used  as a thickener.

Alginic acid, as well as other polymers, is insoluble in water and  in most organic solvents. But its salts  – alginates – have rather different properties. Alginates of potassium, sodium or magnesium form viscous water  solutions. But alginates of calcium, zinc or iron are not soluble in water at all.  


Among many useful properties of alginates there are some that deserve special attention:

  • They evacuate  heavy metals (lead, mercury, etc.) from the body: the cations of strontium (Sr), lead (Pb), barium (Ba), cesium (Cs) are replaced by cations of calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), sodium (Na), potassium (K) of the alginates. As the kelp fibre is not digested by the human body it is therefor ejected by the intestines.
  • They reduce the aggressiveness of gastric juice. Alginates facilitate substantial structural recovery of the gastrointestinal tract tissues and triggers  antioxidant mechanism of lipid peroxidation.
  • They have unique immunostimulatory properties.
  • They reduce the level of blood glucose, which has a good potential for developing products for diabetics. It binds water in the intestines to form a gel which in its turn  makes it difficult to split and absorb carbohydrates thus reducing  hyperglycaemia.
  • Alginic acid is a natural enterosorbent. It binds and removes  from the body toxic products like bile acids, radionuclides, cholesterol and carcinogens. This proves very  beneficial for skin, hair and nails.
  • The algae dietary fibre (agar-agar, alginates) are potent stimulators of intestinal motility. They reduce greatly the absorption of food components, especially fats and cholesterol. Swelling up in the stomach, alginates normalize digestion, cleanse the intestines, give the feeling of satiety.  That is why brown algae (Fucus and Ascophyllum nodosum) is often  used in weight loss diets.
  • Polysaccharides in brown algae normalize the synthesis of sex hormones. Ascophyllum nodosum has a positive effect on the female body. It reduces the risk of breast and genital tumors, normalizes periods, regulates hormone levels in the menopause.
  • Alginic acid and its salts, alpha-, beta-carotene, chlorophyll, vitamins C and E, zinc and selenium - all of these substances in the marine brown algae protect the cell membranes from free radicals and ionizing radiation.
  • Alginic acid and its salts evacuates a dangerous radionuclides Sr-90 and Cs-137 out of the human body.

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