Why seaweed is not a good source of dietary calcium

SeaVegSaladPackCan anybody you eats dairy actually love you? (sic) Serge Benhayon, EDG Message 13, date unknown

Universal Medicine cult members live in mortal fear of dairy products, sugar, caffeine, alcohol and a comprehensive list of nutritious foods because Serge says they’re pranic and loveless. To justify their messiah’s demented food neurosis cultists misrepresent scientific research studies in order to demonize them nutritionally. Among some of the unsound nutritional advice propagated by UM is that seaweed is an alternative source of calcium to dairy products. It might be good advice if seaweed was appetizing and didn’t contain potentially toxic levels of iodine in the amounts required to deliver calcium.

Demonizing dairy

Cult naturopath, Nina Stabey, in her anti dairy propaganda treatise ‘Re-evaluating Dairy’ (sic) cites a bunch of research studies to claim dairy consumption is associated with acne, infertility, autism, cardiovascular disease and a long list of cancers. With all those associations with disease, one wonders how anyone in Western Europe is still alive, and why on earth the average life expectancy has risen. Oh well. It seems no one, including the cult’s numbskulled medical professionals, has introduced Nina to scientific methodology and the fact that correlation does not equate with causation.

Her misspelled pamphlet also misrepresents lactose intolerance and milk allergy. Lactose intolerance is a common digestive disorder resulting from deficiency in the digestive enzyme lactase. It’s more common among populations in areas of the world where cattle were not traditionally raised. It can also occur temporarily after an episode of food poisoning or other digestive upset. However, many dairy products, like butter and hard or yellow cheeses contain low or negligible levels of lactose, and are well tolerated. The only reason to eliminate dairy altogether would be due to an allergy to the proteins in milk, such as casein. True dairy allergies, however, are not that common.

It’s safe to say Serge’s eccentric aversion to dairy is not backed by science.

Esoteric calcium sources

Nonetheless, UniMedders unnecessarily cut all dairy, depriving themselves of one of the best sources of calcium, and take bent Esoteric dietary advice from the likes of Nina Stabey who tells people with eating disorders to only eat when they’re hungry.

Her pamphlet lists the following as ‘Quality sources of absorbale (sic) calcium’:

  1. Sesame seeds: especially black sesame seeds & tahini. 
  2. Green vegetables: bok choy, choy sum, kale, koi choy, chinese spinach
  3. Nuts: almonds, hazelnuts, brazil
  4. Agar agar
  5. Japanese sea vegetables: arame, wakame, kombu, aka
  6. Small fish with bones: sardines, whitebait
  7. Soup stocks made with bones and some lemon juice

She includes a table comparing the calcium contents of foods according to their kilojoule content. So a 418 kJ serve of regular milk has 61mg of calcium compared with 425 mg of calcium per 418 kJ of bok choy. What she doesn’t point out is that to get the same amount of calcium from as you could get from a cup of milk, you’d have to eat 4 cups of bok choy (approx. 300g). And that would still be only a third of an adult’s daily requirement for calcium (1000 mg).

What does 300 mg of calcium look like?

To put Nina’s dietary advice into perspective, the following is a list of food servings that would each deliver the 304 mg of calcium available in a 250ml cup of milk.

  • About 60 g of sardines.
  • Just under half a cup of canned salmon (400g of other fish)
  • 2 slices of cheddar cheese
  • 100g tofu
  • 1 cup of regular soy milk
  • 100 almonds (15 almonds contains 40 mg of calcium)
  • 5 tablespoons of tahini
  • 3½ tablespoons (31g) of sesame seeds
  • 60 brazil nuts
  • 8 cups of cooked broccoli
  • 2 sheets of nori
  • 200g (two and half cups) of wakame

Calcium requirements: Adults, and children between nine and 11 years old require 1000 mg of calcium per day. 12-18 year olds, pregnant women and the elderly require 1300 mg. Infants need 210 mg and four to eight year old kids need 700 mg.

So, anyone trying to adhere to the Esoteric food commandments needs to be eating a decent amount of salmon, sardines or tofu, or drinking soy milk, daily, to meet calcium requirements. The problem with relying on chinese vegetables and nuts is that the amounts needed to get the calcium could cause digestive problems that would limit the absorption of nutrients. 100 almonds also carries 3000 kJ due to the high fat content.

Calcium deficiency symptoms

Dental problems, nail and bone deterioration, numbness in fingers and toes (paraesthesia), muscle cramps, convulsions, lethargy, appetite loss, abnormal heart rhythms.

Seaweed and iodine toxicity

Seaweed such as nori might be high in calcium but its iodine levels are highly variable and potentially toxic. It’s not a viable alternative source of calcium to dairy. An increase in consumption of rolled sushi in Australia has been linked to a surge in thyroid illness. The complexity of thyroid function means that overconsumption of iodine could lead to either underactivity or overactivity of the thyroid gland, both of which can result in serious illness.

Dietitians Association of Australia’s Lisa Renn said sushi was a healthy meal but only if restricted to two or three rolls twice a week because of the iodine levels in the seaweed wrap.

Make that one roll twice a week for kids.

Having lived in Japan, I saw the Japanese consume a fair amount of seaweed, but not in the amounts consumed by UniMed cult members who treat themselves to appetizing delights like Sea vegetable bouillabaisse and seaweed lasagne. I’d estimate a Japanese adult would consume 3 or 4 sheets (up to 10g) of nori per week. A study in the Thyroid Research Journal noted that Japanese consumption of seaweed is high and the Japanese are known to live long with low incidences of certain diseases, however, in attempting to achieve the same health benefits non Japanese are often misled into ‘potentially dangerous diet and supplementation recommendations’. What outsiders fail to understand is that time tested traditional diets and methods of food preparation turn out to be highly scientific.

In Asian cultures, seaweed is commonly cooked with foods containing goitrogens such as broccoli, cabbage, bok choi and soy. The phytochemicals in these foods can competitively inhibit iodine uptake by the thyroid gland (i.e., isothiocyanates from cruciferous vegetables), or inhibit incorporation of iodine into thyroid hormone (i.e., soy isoflavones).       

The article also discusses the effects of high iodine intake and that complications are common in Japan.

Transient hypothyroidism and iodine-induced goiter is common in Japan and can be reversed in most cases by restricting seaweed intake. 

Nina Stabey charges $15.50 for that 100g packet of wakame seaweed sprinkles pictured above, and advertises that it ‘provides great mineral delivery’ and is ‘ideal for those with osteoporosis or those who don’t eat dairy.’ However, as we see above, it takes 200g of wakame to provide the 300mg of calcium found in one cup of milk. The recipe for a pot of seafood bouillabaisse calls for ¼ packet (25g) of the seaweed sprinkles, which when reconstituted would weigh about 50g. So a serve of the soup might provide around 20mg of calcium. Nina’s customers would have to eat four saucepans full of the soup to get the calcium they could get from a cup of milk or two slices of cheese. If they eat about 12 saucepans full, they might make the recommended daily intake for an adult.

Not much mineral delivery there, Nina.

 A note on grains and legumes

The other bit of unholy dietary silliness UMers subscribe to is unnecessarily cutting grains, root vegetables and legumes from their diets. So basically most of them are living on lamb, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts, coconut, a few types of fruit and mostly green veges. It’s not a dietary regime, it’s a laxative and if those trying to survive on that are passing loose stools, they are receiving even less nourishment because the accelerated passage decreases nutrient absorption. Diarrhoea also causes dehydration. And the diet is relatively high in fat.

Cult members often cite the benefits of the paleo diet – another bourgeois fad dreamed up by some clown with a limited grasp of science. The scientific community are not impressed, not only because the diet is based on pseudo-archaeological and evolutionary science fictions, but because diets lacking grains, legumes and root vegetables are also lacking in resistant starches and short-chain oligosaccharides – substances which are prebiotic (encourage beneficial bowel flora) and produce fatty acids which reduce inflammation, useful in combatting chronic degenerative disease.

“We’re a bit worried about people on these diets because they may miss out on important fibres,” Muir says. For those with irritable bowel syndrome, limiting grains and legumes helps control the disease’s gastrointestinal symptoms, and coeliacs must also avoid foods containing gluten. “Some people restrict gluten for other reasons, thinking it will help with weight loss or improve bloating. But by restricting grains like rye, barley and wheat, you miss out on indigestible carbohydrates so important for gut health.” Paula Goodyer, Friendly Fibre, SMH, January 4, 2014.

I’ve said it before in previous Esoteric diet posts, but I’ll spell it out again. The Esoteric diet is harmful and stupid, but not as stupid as the cult addled health professionals and amateur dietitians who promote it. (Nina Stabey, Sarah Cloutier, Nicole Serafin, Nicole Sjardin, Sally Scott, Dr Samuel Kim, Eunice Minford, Dr Anne Malatt et al.)
It’s not suitable for adults.
For children it’s plain dangerous.

Diet or Eating Disorder Part 1 – Esoteric Food Classification

Part 2 – Diet as a tool for instilling malleability

The Esoteric Diet – more lethal than ever

Esoteric Food Charts

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6 thoughts on “Why seaweed is not a good source of dietary calcium

  1. Effects of iodine toxicity:

    acneform skin lesions, brassy taste, burning sensation in mouth and throat, decreased or increased thyroid activity, diarrhoea, gastric irritation, goitre, Graves disease, head cold symptoms, increased salivation, increased sympathetic nerve activity in the elderly.

    Symptoms of underactive thyroid function (hypothyroidism)

    fatigue and low energy levels
    depression
    slow heart rate
    unexplained weight gain
    intolerance to cold temperatures
    fatigued and aching muscles
    dry, coarse skin
    puffy face
    hair loss
    constipation
    problems with concentration
    goitre (enlarged thyroid gland).

    Symptoms of overactive thyroid function (hyperthyroidism)

    Accelerated heart rate or palpitations
    Muscle weakness and trembling
    Unexplained weight loss
    Sensitivity to heat
    Diarrhoea
    Sleeping difficulties
    Sweating
    Irritability
    Nervousness, agitation and anxiety
    Changes in menstruation, including scantier flow and increased cycle length.

    Get to a non UniMed GP tout de suite if you suspect any of these conditions.

    • Don’t be silly, of course she has to double the cost for the same product. Money doesn’t grow on trees you know, and when you’ve pretty much closed every other door to a normal, prosperous life by following Sergio, what else are you going to do but try and rip off everyone else who’s as gullible as you are!

    • I checked out the local Asian grocery today and they have a Chinese brand of wakame – 56.7g pack for $2.99. The Korean brand, same weight is $3.85. It lists a serving size as 10g and that it supplies a whole 4% of the recommended daily intake of calcium for adults (equating with 40 mg). AMAZING

      And for the person who asked about why their urine smelled rank on the Esoteric diet – it might have been due to the sulphur content of pea soup and nuts. Otherwise it could have been ketosis from too much protein (nuts again and meat and fish)?

  2. Funny how a so called hate-blogger and cyber-bully is more concerned about the health and welfare of the cult members and their kids than any of the holier than thou health practitioners making $$$$$$$$$ out of Serge’s bullshit.

  3. Nina’s special, Glorious price for the equal Sons of God. She’s taken business lessons from Sergio the bullshitter.

    Another point, is looking at the loony Esoteric diet, it’s a recipe for irritable bowel syndrome.

    Sergio’s list of FIERY FOODS has garlic, chilli, onion, and nuts among the upper hierarchy of foods – can be major irritants for a lot of people. Large quantities of nuts are indigestible and very high in fat.

    UM retreats must be giant fart festivals.

    Either constipation or loose stools are bad scenarios. Diarrhoea worse. Constipation with soft, sticky stools is a problem with low motility – common in laxative abuse.

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