There is plenty of truth to the old saying about “water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.” Our oceans are made up of saltwater, which we all (should) know isn’t potable, unless your fun idea of quenching your thirst is chugging down the salty stuff without regard to sanity or health. Yet there still is plenty to love about what our oceans offer in terms of nutrients and healthy foods that can benefit us in numerous ways.
Oceans make up approximately 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, and they comprise “the largest environment for living things on Earth,” is how Ramasamy Santhanam, author of the book Nutritional Marine Life, describes it. Marine flora and fauna beneath the sea are prominent and rich sources of nutritional benefits, whether it be the amino acids that are available to us courtesy of fish and crustaceans or the important proteins other found only in sparse amounts in cereals and grains.
Nutrients and minerals that are among the ingredients found in seafood can play a role in enhancing brain development as well as reproduction. Also, the association between fish and our cardiovascular health is well known, thanks in part to the omega-3 fatty acids that can be found in such fish as salmon and mackerel.
Oceans Offer Plenty of Nutrient Resources
As Santhanam also points out, nearly a third of the world’s human population suffers from malnutrition related to nutritional deficiencies in their diets. Much of what they are lacking are specific dietary micronutrients to include iron, iodine, vitamin A and zinc – all of which can be found in relative abundance among what the seas have to offer.
Following are some of the health benefits that can be found in or around the deep saltwaters of the world:
- Vitamin D. OK, so vitamin D gets included on this list via a technicality. The sun’s rays are our chief source of vitamin D, and, besides, how many of us find we can’t avoid thinking about sun bathing when we get near any large body of water, Like the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans, for example. Vitamin D helps our bodies battle back against depression while also bolstering the strength of our bones and our immune and digestive systems.
- Magnesium. Ocean water itself is abundant with magnesium, and taking a dip in the ocean gives our skin time to absorb some of the magnesium. It’s a mineral that plays important roles in our bodies when it comes to muscle function, blood coagulation and nutrient metabolism, per wiseandwell.co. Magnesium also has a role in helping to maintain reef ecosystems per the calcification of various types of organisms.
- Calcium. Calcium is an ocean water nutrient that sea organisms depend on, as calcium ions that oftentimes bond with other ions, such as carbonate, forming calcium carbonate skeletons necessary for the survival of marine creatures such as crabs, lobsters and oysters. Hey, this stuff just keeps sounding better and better, doesn’t it? Remember, calcium is the human body’s most plentiful mineral and it plays an essential role in healthy bones and teeth.
- Phosphorous. This is what’s called a “dissolved nutrient” found in ocean water, per livestrong.com, that is vital for plant growth. It can also be found in human bones, contributing to the effort to make and keep them strong.
- Potassium. Its highest concentrations in seawater, per livestrong,com, and they are found in proximity to the sea bed’s sedimentary bottom. Among other things, potassium helps regulate the human heart beat.
- Sulfur. Most of the Earth’s sulfur is located in seawater or sedimentary rocks beneath the water’s surface. Sulfur plays a role in helping proteins in the human body to take form.
- Omega-3 fatty acids. We briefly mentioned these earlier as being found in fatty fish, which health experts say is good for our hearts, helping to regulate blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Other fish oils, such as salmon and krill (from other fish) oils, also can be found in the oceans.
- Seaweed. An edible aquatic plant that is much better for us than you might have pictured it. For starters, it is low in saturated fat and really low in cholesterol. It’s a good source of more than a dozen key vitamins and minerals, to include vitamins, A, C, E and K, per nutritiondata.self.com, as well as niacin, pantothenic acid, phosphorous, riboflavin, folate, calcium, iron and copper.
- Kelp. Kelp is a type of seaweed that is a popular edible in many parts of the world – Americans are gradually catching on – and is a staple in Asia countries. It is believed that it can help stave off diseases while working as a good source of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, per healthline.com.
- Shark cartilage. A dietary supplement made from the dried and powdered cartilage of a shark. Shark cartilage has many targets when it comes to contributing to healthy bodies, per webmd.com, working against an assortment of conditions that incudes arthritis, psoriasis, HIV infection, wound healing, diabetes and enteritis (inflammation of the intestine).