Do you suffer from the many debilitating symptoms that go along with hypothyroidism? Are you wondering if there are any vitamins and minerals that can help?
Let’s first discuss thyroid hormones and what they do.
The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland located in the lower neck that produces triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) hormones. These hormones control metabolism, regulate heart rate and blood pressure, control metabolism and cholesterol, and maintain a regular menstrual cycle, among other things. Understanding thyroid terminology is the one of the first steps in healing from thyroid disease. Educating yourself on the functions of the thyroid will help you better understand how to move forward with treatment, diet, and fitness.
We all want to feel our best. Unfortunately many hypothyroid patients are deficient in some essential vitamins and minerals that can help feel that way. These deficiencies might even add to the long list of stubborn symptoms that you already face.
This article covers some of the main vitamins and minerals that our bodies need and why they are so important.
It’s known that vitamin B12 provides energy, but did you know that a deficiency in this vitamin might also cause mood swings and brain fog? If you are feeling sluggish, depressed, and can’t remember where you put the remote, then it’s suggested that supplementing with vitamin B12 could help. Good sources of this vitamin include nuts, meat, fish, and dark leafy greens.
Selenium is a trace mineral that is essential to many of the body’s regulatory and metabolic functions. It has antioxidant properties and plays a critical role in reproduction, DNA production, metabolism, immune function and thyroid health. Studies have also shown an association between low levels of selenium with increased risk for cancer, cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, obesity, and thyroid disease.
The thyroid gland houses more selenium than any other tissue in the body and selenium is a key component of “selenoproteins” like iodothyronine deiodinases, glutathione peroxidases and thioredoxin reductases, which are enzymes involved in thyroid hormone metabolism and the antioxidant defense of the thyroid gland. In fact, research suggests that selenium deficiency may be an environmental trigger for Hashimoto’s disease. Consistently meeting your selenium needs is this particularly important for Hashimoto’s patients.
Great sources of selenium are Brazil nuts, tuna, shellfish, pinto beans, halibut, and spinach.
Zinc fights free radical damage, helps prevent poor concentration, assists in hormone production and has countless other benefits. It is also helpful in converting thyroid hormones T4 to T3. Good sources of zinc include lamb, chicken, mushrooms, salmon, and cashews.
Iodine is a vital nutrient in the body and essential for thyroid hormone production. When TSH is secreted from the pituitary, it increases the thyroid’s uptake of iodine and stimulates the synthesis and release of T4 and T3. Without sufficient iodine, TSH levels remain elevated and lead to goiter, an enlargement of the thyroid gland that reflects the body’s attempt to produce thyroid hormone.
Iodine deficiency is associated with impaired brain development and other growth abnormalities with the most serious side effects occurring in utero with damage to the growing fetus. Iodine deficiency is the leading cause of hypothyroidism worldwide, but it is rare in the U.S. since iodized salt was introduced in the 1920s. So, while iodine deficiency is the most common cause of hypothyroidism worldwide, Hashimoto’s Disease is the leading cause of hypothyroidism in the U.S. - accounting for 90-97% of cases. For this reason, the relationship between iodine and Hashimoto’s continues to be debated by thyroid experts.
Iodized salt, along with fish, dairy, and grains, are major sources of iodine in the standard American diet. Seaweed (such as kelp, nori, kombu, and wakame) is a also a great food source of iodine, but it’s iodine content is widely variable.
There are many hypothyroid patients that are deficient in vitamin D. In addition to increasing energy levels, adequate amounts of vitamin D are suggested to help improve TSH levels, reduce depression, protect from heart disease, and is anti-inflammatory.
Vitamin D is called the “sunshine vitamin” for good reason. You may be able to get the recommended amount of this vitamin by spending 20 minutes in the sunlight twice per week, and food sources include yogurt, salmon, fish oils, and mackerel.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that helps our bodies by keeping our bones strong, regulates blood pressure, helps calm the nerves, and increases energy. It is also critical that magnesium be present for thyroid hormones T4 to convert to T3. Not only are most people deficient in magnesium, but caffeine can also cause magnesium loss. Many hypothyroid patients have extreme fatigue which can make an exhausted body turn to coffee for a quick pick-me-up. This can start a vicious cycle, because as more caffeine is added to our diets, more magnesium is lost. It’s very important to learn to fight the exhaustion through diet and exercise instead of turning to an abundance of caffeine.
Great sources of magnesium include dark leafy greens, almonds, sunflower seeds, black beans, and bananas.
Besides being an essential component to building red blood cells, iron is necessary to synthesize thyroid hormones. It can also play a role in moving oxygen and creating energy within our body. Anyone with hypothyroidism knows that there’s no tired like “hypothyroid tired’ and an iron deficiency may be part of the cause.
Beef, chicken, salmon, apricots, white beans, and spinach are all rich sources of iron.
The adrenal gland contains the highest levels of vitamin C in the body. The adrenals and thyroid are closely related and work together, so if the adrenal gland function is disrupted, the thyroid gland may be be affected as well. High stress levels and vitamin C deficiency can lead to adrenal stress which then has a negative effect on the thyroid, slowing down metabolism.
Vitamin C is also helpful in maintaining proper blood pressure levels, reduces the risk of certain cancers, and helps fight heart disease.
Citrus fruits, berries, cherries, and tomatoes are all great choices to boost vitamin C levels.
In addition to balancing some of these healthy foods in your diet, supplements and lifestyle optimization have been shown to make a difference in certain cases of hypothyroidism and can be targeted to your specific causes. Talk to your Paloma practitioner for more details.
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