8 Nutrients to Improve Your Thyroid FunctionAug 17, 2020
Your thyroid needs nourishment!
It has a big job! You can’t survive without the hormones it produces, so you’ve got to keep your thyroid powered with the right nutrients every day.
If you don’t, EVERY CELL IN YOUR BODY will feel the drain! Every cell in your body has a thyroid hormone receptor. That means that every cell in your body needs thyroid hormone to function, survive, and thrive!
When you don’t produce enough thyroid hormone or if your cells don’t receive the hormones that are available, you will feel the impact on many levels.
You might experience:
🔺Mood changes & irritability
🔺Brain fog & memory challenges
🔺Irregular menstruation—too heavy/too light
🔺Fertility struggles or no ovulation
🔺Brittle hair & nails
🔺Anemia or high cholesterol
🔺Slow heart rate
If you’ve been diagnosed with a thyroid condition or think you might have one, thyroid medication isn’t always the answer. Your thyroid could be under nourished!
Your thyroid gland requires a certain mix of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to function and to produce what your body needs.
You need to feed you and your thyroid with nourishing nutrients like:
Let’s start with one of the most important nutrients for proper thyroid function. Like all of your hormones, thyroid hormones are influencers. Hormones are sent out from their respective glands with an intentional message. When a hormone lands on another cell’s receptor site, the cell receives the message, and this cell can then do its main work.
As this cell sends out hormones of its own, the cascade of hormonal influence continues.
Here’s the important thing! Hormones don’t travel alone, and your thyroid hormones are no exception. They need the help of carrier proteins to travel around your body. They need to “catch a ride” to get from cell A to cell B.
The “ride” that carries thyroid hormones to your cells is made of protein. If you don’t consume enough protein, your thyroid hormones won’t be able to get their message where it needs to go. This is when you feel the symptoms.
Including at least 15-20 grams of protein at breakfast ensures that your thyroid hormones will start the day with adequate cell-to-cell transportation. This will power your metabolism, increase your energy, and help the rest of your hormone cascade carry their messages efficiently.
Protein is also a must for your liver. Your liver is a major metabolic factory as it is responsible for converting over 60% of your thyroid hormone from its inactive to its active form. Lack of adequate protein will slow this process down, leaving you with more of the common symptoms above.
A lack of adequate protein or the inability to metabolize protein properly will definitely hinder your overall thyroid system function.
Include good protein sources at each meal from foods like grass-fed meats, poultry, fish, pumpkin seeds, other nuts and seeds, full-dat dairy, and wild rice.
Every element of your thyroid function depends on zinc. The most important function of zinc is its role in converting your inactive T4 thyroid hormone into active T3 hormone. Without enough T3 in your body you will simply NOT feel better. If you’ve ever taken a T4-only thyroid medication (like Synthroid or levoxyl) and not felt better, a zinc deficiency could be one reason why.
Zinc is also required for optimal immune function. What does your immune system have to do with your thyroid function?
Your immune system needs to be working properly to prevent autoimmune diseases, conditions in which your body attacks and destroys it’s own organs and tissues.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid gland, is the number one cause of hypothyroidism and low thyroid function in the United States and developed countries.
It’s estimated that 90% of people with hypothyroidism have Hashimoto's thyroiditis and don’t even know it.
Zinc, because of its positive impact on the immune system, can help drastically reduce Hashimoto’s and likely other autoimmune diseases from even occurring.
While a zinc deficiency can cause hypothyroidism, the good news is that proper zinc supplementation can be an easy, natural remedy to reversing this condition and may help prevent thyroid disease from occurring in the first place.
In the meantime, keep your zinc supply robust with foods like grass-fed meats, oysters and wild-caught shellfish, pumpkin seeds, other nuts & seeds, and legumes.
Selenium works hand-in-hand with zinc to ensure a healthy thyroid and it helps support other immune functions.
Selenium combines with special proteins in your body to form selenoproteins that:
- help your body produce thyroid hormone
- help your body convert and use thyroid hormone
- produce anti-oxidants that protect your thyroid cells from being damaged
Your thyroid gland contains more selenium per gram of tissue than any other organ in your body. This allows selenium to work as an anti-oxidant, protecting your tissue right at the source. Your body constantly needs to convert reactive by-products like hydrogen peroxide into harmless elements like water and oxygen. Selenium protects your thyroid gland by removing this damaging hydrogen peroxide, so if you are deficient, your thyroid gland won’t have the protection needs.
Include rich sources of selenium daily from foods like Brazil nuts (a couple a day), grass-fed meats, poultry, sunflower seeds, legumes, and eggs. The selenium content in foods depends on the soil concentration which is low in many areas.
Does this mean you should you supplement?
Studies have shown that supplementing with selenium decreases thyroid antibodies and reduces the development of hypothyroidism. Consider including 100 mcg of selenomethionine daily from a high-quality supplement for maintenance. If your levels are low, you might need 200 mcg daily. Work with a practitioner to ensure that you’re getting the amount that’s right for you. Check the labels of other supplements and multivitamins you’re taking to ensure that you don’t exceed a daily dose of 400 mcg daily as this can lead to nutrient imbalances and toxicity.
Your thyroid needs iron and iron needs your thyroid! First of all, your thyroid needs iron to make thyroid hormone. When you have low iron levels, not only will your total thyroid hormone production be reduced, your body won’t efficiently convert T4 to active T3. Additionally, your levels of free T3—the hormone available for your cells to use—will be reduced. Low iron stores can contribute to hypothyroidism pretty quickly.
Iron also needs your thyroid. Your stomach cells need T3 hormone to make hydrochloric acid (HCl). HCl breaks down your food so vitamins, minerals, and nutrients can be absorbed. Without adequate HCl you can’t access iron from the food you eat, you won’t absorb what you need, and your iron stores decrease.
You can see how this becomes a vicious cycle.
Iron deficiency = low thyroid hormone production = poor digestion = decreased iron absorption = iron deficiency
If you are still menstruating, you will lose additional iron each month during your menses. What’s worse is that iron deficiency can also make periods heavier.
Iron supplements aren’t always the answer to restoring depleted iron levels. If taken at the wrong time, supplemental iron can interfere with and inactivate thyroid medications. This might make your already uncomfortable symptoms worse! If you’re taking a thyroid medication, check your multivitamins and other supplements to see if they contain iron.
Can iron supplements help? Sure! But, it’s important to talk with your health care provider before you start iron (or any other supplement). You should have a full iron panel to evaluate if and how much supplemental iron you actually need.
In the meantime, make sure your diet is rich in high-iron foods like grass-fed beef and organ meats, poultry, leafy greens, nuts, quinoa and legumes.
VITAMINS A & D
Every cell in your body has a vitamin D receptor for a reason! Your cells need both vitamins A and D to utilitze your active T3 hormone. Both of these fat-soluble vitamins also have a big role in supporting your immunity, an important factor for autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s
Without these nutrients your immune system can become over-active, unbalanced, and lead to the confusion that initiates an autoimmune attack on your tissue.
In a 2011 study, 92% of the Hashimoto’s patients tested had a Vitamin D deficiency (25-OH D3 level lower than 30 ng/mL). Low vitamin D was also associated with overt hypothyroidism BS high serum TSH levels. Your thyroid NEEDS vitamin D!
Get your vitamin D tested at least twice a year to ensure adequate levels. All year round, be sure to include good sources of Vitamins A and D from dark leafy greens, salmon, sardines, egg yolks, grass-fed butter, fermented dairy, and liver. And don’t forget your daily dose of sunshine!
Magnesium is a mineral that’s especially essential for Hashimoto’s and liver support! Slowed digestive function can reduce magnesium absorption, and high levels of stress and inflammation increase your body’s need for magnesium.
You can get magnesium from dark chocolate, dark leafy greens, nuts & seeds, legumes, brown rice, kelp, figs, and dates.
This large family of vitamins helps make thyroid hormones & improves your stress response. Research shows that up to half of those with a thyroid disorder have low or deficient B12 levels. Slow and impaired digestion can reduce your absorption of vitamin B12 and other B vitamins, creating a similar pattern to the iron cycle above.
Include good sources of B vitamins daily from dark leafy greens, liver, eggs, beef, salmon, oysters & clams, legumes.
You can’t make thyroid hormones without iodine! Each molecule of T4 and T3 thyroid hormone is made up of a protein and iodine (in the form of iodide). T4 contains 4 molecules of iodide and T3 contains 3 molecules of iodide.
Your thyroid hormones are the only compounds in your body that contain iodine. This is why dietary intake of iodine is so important for thyroid health!
Never take an iodine supplement without the oversight of your health practitioner. Too much iodine can aggravate thyroid conditions, especially if you have Hashimoto’s. Like other nutrients, you can test your iodine levels so you know exactly how much you need.
In the meantime, regularly include iodine-rich foods like seaweed & sea vegetables, low-mercury seafood, cow’s milk dairy, and eggs.
Your thyroid gland needs to be nourished! Focus on including real, colorful, nutrient-rich foods and you’ll be off to a great start!
Are you looking for a trusted practitioner to help guide and support you in your journey to better thyroid health? Click here to set up a FREE strategy session with me. I'll listen to your biggest challenges and you'll learn the exact next steps you need to take to start nourishing your thyroid and feeling better soon!
In joy and health,
This information is not intended to be personal medical advice. Never start a supplement, change a medication, or make any other modifications to your health regimen without first consulting with your physician or appropriate health practitioner.
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