S. fusiforme, more commonly known as hijiki, is a type of brown seaweed that has been part of the Japanese diet for hundreds of years. Harvested from the coastlines of East Asia, this natural source of Fucoidan is known in Japan for its taste and health benefits. Hijiki is collected from the ocean by individual workers who must venture out into the water. The workers use small scythes to catch the seaweed as it floats in the water. Hijiki is generally prepared as a home-cooked meal, and restaurants do not often make dishes using this seaweed. The seaweed is commonly chopped up and mixed into dips, dressings, salads, stir fries, seafood dishes, and sushi in Japan.
The Japanese traditionally believed that hijiki was responsible for shiny and healthy hair, and given its nutritional components, this seaweed probably does help nail, hair, and skin health. Since hijiki is also a known source of Fucoidan, it also has all of the benefits Fucoidan can provide. Before committing to this particular seaweed as your source of Fucoidan, however, you must be aware of the alarming health risks associated with this form of seaweed.
Hijiki is known to contain calcium, magnesium, iron, and dietary fiber. Calcium is significant in the body because it helps strengthen bones and teeth, and also helps with nerve signal transmissions. Magnesium has a wide range of benefits including regulating blood pressure and heart rhythm. Iron is beneficial to the body because it helps red blood cells transport oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Fiber is mostly beneficial to intestinal health, as it helps support the good bacteria already active in the digestive tract.
However, this type of seaweed has some very significant health risks that you should be aware of before you consider trying it. While these nutrients are vital for good health, it important to not take more than the recommended amount of iron, magnesium, and fiber. Side effects of magnesium and iron can both include digestive problems such as vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. It should also be noted that magnesium is a natural laxative, and is often the prime ingredient in antacids and laxatives that you can buy in stores.
Toxic Levels of Inorganic Arsenic
Though many people might be excited to try hijiki, there are some significant health risks to be aware of. This type of seaweed has been recently reported in multiple medical journals as a source of inorganic arsenic, and this information has been independently verified. New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Hong Kong have all issued warnings against the consumption of hijiki seaweed because of its high inorganic arsenic content.
Inorganic arsenic has been identified as carcinogenic, or cancer-causing. Extreme exposure to arsenic can cause arsenic poisoning, the symptoms of which can include confusion and headaches, drowsiness, diarrhea, convulsions, and hair loss. Symptoms can range from moderate to severe depending on the severity of the arsenic poisoning, and major organs such as the lungs, liver, kidneys, and skin are most severely impacted by this form of poisoning. It is important to remember that arsenic levels are not a common trait in seaweed, making hijiki a rare but dangerous exception. While this seaweed can be taken safely in very small doses (1-2 tbsp a day), it is still considered toxic. It is up to the consumer to choose whether to take hijiki (or hijiki-derived Fucoidan), and to accept the additional health risks associated with this particular form of seaweed.
If you would like a safer source for your Fucoidan, you should consider Fucoidan derived from wakame, another form of brown seaweed that has no dangerous side effects and has been used in Japanese cuisine for centuries. Fucoidan Force™ uses organic wakame to provide a substantial boost to your health and general well-being.