The Detoxification Potential of Alginates


Alginate, also known as its chemical name, alginic acid, is an anionic polysaccharide found in the cell walls of brown algae, where through binding with water it forms a viscous gum. It has the ability to absorb water quickly; typically 200-300 times its own weight in water.

There are a number of forms of alginates:

Ammonium Alginate – used as a stabilizing agent and water-retainer in commercial food processing.

Calcium Alginate (Calcium bound to Alginic Acid) – used commercially as a stabilizing agent and/or thickening agent in the commercial production of flavorings, ice creams, cottage cheese, cheese snacks, dressings, spreads, and fruit drinks.

Potassium Alginate consists of potassium bound to alginic acid.

Propylene-Glycol Alginate is a synethically-manufactured alginate.

Sodium Alginate consists of sodium bound to alginic acid. This is the form of alginate that is used as a supplement for therapeutic purposes, and which is present in sea vegetables such as kelp.

Alginates may bind to bile acids in the small intestine and may enhance their elimination.

Alginates may facilitate the excretion of several detrimental minerals (toxic metals) by binding to them in the intestinal tract and preventing their absorption:

  • Barium
  • Strontium (including Radioactive Strontium-90)
  • Cadmium


Carr, T. E., et al. Reduction in the absorption and retention of dietary strontium in man by alginate. Int J Radiat Biol Relat Stud Phys Chem Med. 14(3):225-233, 1968

Story, J. A., et al. Bile acid metabolism and fiber. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 31(10 Supplement):S199-S202, 1978

Tanaka, Y., et al. Application of algal polysaccharides as in vivo binders of metal pollutants. In: Proceedings of the Seventh International Seaweed Symposium. Wiley & Sons, New York, USA, pages 602-607, 1972

Reduction of strontium absorption in man by the addition of alginate to the diet. Sutton A. Journal Nature. 1967 Dec 9;216(5119):1005-7

Jodra, Y. and Mijangos, F. Ion exchange selectivities of calcium alginate gels for heavy metals. Water Sci Technol, 2001:43(2); 237-44

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