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Carrageenan is a substance derived from certain red algae, or seaweed – usually Irish moss (sometimes called sea moss in supplements), an edible red seaweed that grows along parts of the Atlantic coasts of Europe and North America. Carrageenan makes up about 50% the dry weight of Irish moss (Chopin, J Phycol 1995; Chopin, Botanica Marina 1999). Carrageenan is used to create a smooth texture and thicken foods such as pudding, yogurt, ice-cream, whipped toppings, milk (including almond and soy milk), soups, and processed meats.

Carrageenan is sometimes also added to supplements to improve texture or thicken ingredients. It can be found in some multivitamins, vegan and vegetarian sources of omega-3 fatty acids, such as algal oil supplements, nutrition bars and protein drinks. It was also an ingredient in one cocoa product tested by, although it was removed from the formulation in late 2014.  

Food-grade carrageenan is considered safe by most regulatory agencies; however, some researchers who study carrageenan have raised concerns that carrageenan may be carcinogenic and cause inflammatory reactions. See the full answer for more information >> 

See the Review Article about Inactive Ingredients for more information about carrageenan and other ingredients commonly added to supplements.

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