Consumption of seaweeds and the human brain

M. Lynn Cornish*, Alan T. Critchley, Ole G. Mouritsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articleResearchpeer-review


Much of the content of the human head is brain matter. This functions as the epicenter of human physical existence, including a sense of well-being and the manifestation of human consciousness. The human brain is a precious and complex organ which increases from 350 to 400 g in infants to 1.3–1.4 kg in adults; it comprises ca. 78 % water, 12 % lipid, 8 % protein, and 1 % carbohydrate. Significant progress in behavioral and analytical science has accelerated understanding of the multifaceted responses of the brain to stimuli, whether it be the microbial breakdown products of ingested foods, the influences of environment, or in relation to genetic predisposition. The science of seaweeds, and particularly their broad range of applications, is gathering momentum as studies repeatedly underscore the natural health and nutritional benefits of dietary macroalgae. This article reviews research highlighting the potential impacts of the consumption of a variety of seaweeds on human brain health and includes theories in relation to the benefits to early Homo sapiens. The emphasis is on a varied diet including macroalgae and the gut/microbe/brain axis, the importance of polyunsaturated fatty acids, and the impacts of anti-oxidant activities in neuroprotection. These elements have the capacity to help in the defense of human cognitive disorders, such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, bipolar diseases, and adverse conditions characterized by progressive neurodegeneration. Psychological benefits associated with the moderate consumption of a diet fortified with macroalgae are also discussed in terms of reduction of depressive symptoms and furthermore highlighting possible improvements in sexual function.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Applied Phycology
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)2377–2398
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event22nd International Seaweed Symposium - Købenavn, Denmark
Duration: 19. Jun 201624. Jun 2016
Conference number: 22


Conference22nd International Seaweed Symposium


  • Antioxidants
  • Brain development
  • Essential nutrients
  • Food
  • Iodine
  • Magnesium
  • Micronutrients
  • Neural diseases
  • Neural system
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • Seaweeds
  • Taurine
  • Vitamin B
  • Zinc

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