We talked last week about some herbs that support low thyroid function – you can read about that here. There are some important nutrients that support thyroid function as well. Sometimes supplementing with these nutrients gives just enough of a boost for the thyroid to avoid having to take medications.
Iodine is actually found in the make up of thyroid hormones – 3 molecules in T3 and 4 molecules in T4. Thus is stands to reason that a deficiency of iodine will hinder the production of those hormones.
We would like to think that we get sufficient iodine from our diet – through the soils that our food is grown in, and from sea vegetables such as kelp. However, much of our soil has become deficient in iodine so that is not as prevalent of a source.
Foods that are higher in iodine include asparagus, kelp, seafood, sesame seeds, swiss chard, dulse, lima beans, sea salt, spinach, turnip greens, garlic, mushrooms, seaweed and summer squash.
Iodine was often added to commercial brands of salt too – and now, of course, many people are eating less salt with their food. Another drop in iodine intake. Sea salt has naturally occurring iodine, but not as much as used to be added to the fortified versions.
Iodine should not be taken by those with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or any elevation of anti-TPO and anti-thyroglobulin antibodies, as it can exacerbate autoimmune reactions.
Tyrosine is an amino acid that can support thyroid function. The thyroid combines iodine with tyrosine to make the thyroid hormone, so tyrosine works for the same reasons that iodine does. Tyrosine is also an amino acid that fuels one of our neurotransmitter pathways that is stimulating and invigorating to the brain, so it can also help with “mental fatigue” and depression – two symptoms that are common in hypothyroidism as well.
Since tyrosine is an amino acid, animal protein is going to be one of the main dietary sources of it. However, to really boost the thyroid, it can be supplemented at doses of approximately 500mg twice daily.
Zinc and Selenium:
Zinc and selenium are two minerals that help the thyroid. They boost the conversion of T4 to T3. When the pituitary secretes TSH, sending the message to the thyroid to produce more hormone, the thyroid responds and produces T4. That T4 then circulates around the body where it is converted to T3.
Some people do not convert T4 to T3 efficiently. Zinc and selenium are good helpers for this process, and can be supplemented daily. This is another reason that when prescribing thyroid hormone, I like to give both T4 and T3 in combination, rather than just giving T4 and assuming that the body is converting it adequately.
Zinc and selenium are fine to take even with auto-immune thyroid issues.
These nutrients can give the thyroid a helping hand – whether one is supplementing with thyroid hormone or not.