7 essential nutrients for optimal thyroid function

Have you ever thought about how diet impacts your thyroid? Especially vitamins and minerals present in foods you choose to eat. Well, I had no idea, because the only thing doctors did was prescribing me synthetic hormone T4. Of course I needed it in my serious stadium of hypothyroidism (there is no doubt about that) however I couldn’t believe this is the only thing I should do. That’s why I started to dig deeper in the books and Internet. This is what I found, applied to myself and today I would like to share with you.

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#1 Iodine
Iodine is an element that is needed for the production of thyroid hormone – thyroxine. The body does not make iodine itself, so it is an essential part of your diet (AMTA).  Having not enough iodine can lead to hypothyroidism or even enlargement of the thyroid – goiter. If you are pregnant and have iodine deficiency, there is a risk that your baby will be mental retarded (cretinism).
How do you know you need iodine?
Check if you have any symptoms: lack of sweating, feeling not enough saliva in your mouth and very dry skin. These are symptoms present in hypothyroidism, so that is why it might be connected.
Where can you find iodine?
1) Dried seaweed
¼ oz: 4500 mcg (over 100% DV)
2) Cod fish
3 oz: 99 mcg (66% DV)
3) Yogurt
1 cup: 87 mcg (58% DV)
4) Turkey breast
3 oz: 34 mcg (23% DV)
5) Navy beans
½ cup: 32 mcg (21% DV)
6) Tuna
3 oz: 17 mcg (11% DV)
7) Eggs
1 large: 12 mcg (8% DV)
8) Baked potato
1 medium: 60 mcg (40% DV)
9) Strawberries
1 cup: 13 mcg (8.6% DV)
10) Cranberries
1 oz 90 mcg (60% DV)
(source: Dr. Josh Axe, http://www.draxe.com)
#2 Iron
Do you feel weak, fatigue, sometimes dizzy? Your hair are falling, you have cold feet and hands… Sounds like anemia symptoms, but you might not have anemia and suffer from iron deficiency also connected to your thyroid disease. A study conducted by researchers from Turkey in 2008 reveals that people with thyroid disease have decreased levels of iron and selenium in the blood. Anemia is often the first symptom of thyroid disease, and Hashimoto’s disease may also be caused by iron deficiency.
To check your iron in blood you should check ferritin levels. Ferritin is a protein inside your cells that stores iron. It allows your body to use the iron when it needs it. A ferritin test indirectly measures the amount of iron in blood. The normal range for blood ferritin is: for men 24 to 336 nanograms per milliliter (standard units) or 24 to 336 micrograms per liter (international units) For women 11 to 307 nanograms per milliliter (standard units) or 11 to 307 micrograms per liter (international units). Those suffering for hypothyridism should have they ferritin at least 40 ng/ml, however to make your hair growing again your level should be at least 70-90 ng/ml. To tel you how serious my case was – my ferritin at the beginning was 11. My hair were falling like crazy!
How to deal with it?
Eat foods rich in iron like beef, liver (I am sorry vegetarians, and this is why I also had such iron deficiency – never liked meat too much 😦 ), meat. If you cannot even look at meat eat: nuts, beans, spinach. To rise your iron absorbency you should have enough vitamin C, the best is to drink natural fruit juices and eat mandarin oranges, kiwi. I recommend to try wild rose fruit – it has 15 times more vit C than lemon has! You can find it in organic stores or on amazon.
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Wild rose fruits
#3 Vitamin B12
What can cause iron deficiency and anemia is lack of B12 vitamin. There is a strong connection between autoimmune diseases (like Hashimoto thyroiditis) and lack of vitamin B12. About 40% of patients suffering from hypothyroidism have too low levels of vit B12, another thing is that so many symptoms of B12 deficiency are similar to hypothyroidism and it is hard to tell if it is thyroid disease or B12 deficiency, or maybe both. The optimal B12 level should be in higher points of norm which is from 200 to 900 pg/mL. Again you see so much between. In this case it is better to be around 900. You can find B12 in fish, meat, poultry, eggs. If you notice you are bellow the norm or even lover than a half of norm (400), it is good to supplement your vitamin B12 by oral supplements as well.
#4 Vitamin D3
Vitamin D3 is a steroid hormone, not a vitamin, because our body can produce it itself, but needs a sun for that. Vitamin D3 is found mostly in fish-liver oils, irradiated milk, and all irradiated animal foodstuffs. D3 is important for calcium and phosphorus (helps the body use it from diet) metabolism, as well as good overall health or strong bones. D3 supports your muscles, brain and lungs functions. Only normal levels of D3 (at least 60) can provide optimal thyroid and immune system function.
Much more about precious vitamin D3 you can read in my previous article: Thyroid vs sunlight
#5 Zinc #6 Selenium
Patients suffering from hypothyroidism very often report hair loss. If your levels of iron are okay, check zinc and selenium. According to International Journal of Trichology:
hypothyroidism is a common and well recognized cause of diffuse hair loss. Zinc and other trace elements such as copper and selenium are required for the synthesis of thyroid hormones, and deficiency of these can result in hypothyroidism. Conversely, thyroid hormones are essential for the absorption of zinc, and hence hypothyroidism can result in acquired zinc deficiency. The hair loss attributed to hypothyroidism may not improve with thyroxine unless zinc supplements are added.
As we see, zinc and selenium are very important in thyroid hormones conversion (T4 to T3) as well as they provide hair growth and general health.
Where you can find zinc and selenium?
  • Zinc: shrimp, kidney beans, flax seeds – I add them to my smoothies :), pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds. 
  • Selenium: Brazil Nuts 1917μg (2739% DV) per 100 grams!!!, seafood (Oysters) 154μg (220% DV) per 100 grams (Cooked of course), fish (tuna) 108.2μg (155% DV) per 100 grams.

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    Brazil nuts
#7 Magnesium
It is impossible for thyroid to function without magnesium. Some of the reasons are that magnesium converts inactive T4 hormone into active T3. Let’s say doctor prescribed you T4 synthetic hormone. Thyroid needs T3 so how can it convert it? Magnesium is the answer. Magnesium deficiency is also (like iodine – look #1) related to goiter. Without Mg thyroid enzymes producing more hormones cannot work either. Also as I wrote above you need selenium – you should know without magnesium, you probably won’t absorb selenium either. More advanced info about selenium influence on thyroid you can find in Dr. Izabella Wentz article here.
What are foods rich in Mg? Bean, nuts, green leafy vegetables and… my favorite – dark chocolate! 🙂

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Do you know any other nutrients essential for thyroid function? Share in a comment 🙂
You may also like: Thyroid gland – a powerful butterfly

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Hello! My name is Barbara. On this blog I share my passion for natural products, healthy foods and cosmetics. You'll find here hypothyroidism related articles as well as beauty product reviews. Collaboration: iamthyroidtoday@gmail.com

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