Do you frequently feel cold, tired, have trouble losing weight, along with other unexplained symptoms such as hair loss? Although common, these symptoms could indicate an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), which means the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones. Hypothyroidism slows your metabolism and is increasingly common with age. If left untreated, it can not only make you feel unwell, but may also increase your risk of high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, and a heart attack. Although usually treated with medication, your diet can play an important role in supporting your thyroid health. Certain vitamins and minerals may help support normal thyroid function and hormone levels. If your regular diet doesn’t supply adequate amounts, you may want to consider supplement form to ensure you are meeting your daily needs. *
- Iodine: Adequate iodine is necessary to make thyroid hormone. Good food sources include milk, cheese, poultry, eggs, kelp and other seaweeds. The recommended daily intake for iodine is 150 micrograms. An important note: Excess supplemental iodine should be avoided as it can alter your hormone level or, for individuals with Hashimoto’s disease or other types of autoimmune thyroid disorders, excess iodine may cause or worsen hypothyroidism.
- B vitamins: B vitamins are vital for supporting overall thyroid function. Good sources include whole grains, legumes, nuts, milk, yogurt, meat, fish, eggs, seeds, and dark leafy greens.
- Vitamin A: Vitamin A plays a role in thyroid metabolism. An underactive thyroid gland cannot efficiently convert carotene to usable vitamin A. A 2012 study of obese, pre-menopausal women, who were at higher risk for hypothyroidism, found that vitamin A supplementation lowered their risk.
- Selenium: Selenium is essential for thyroid hormone synthesis and metabolism. Good sources include tuna, shrimp, salmon, sardines, scallops, lamb, chicken, beef, turkey, eggs, and shitake mushrooms.
- Zinc: Zinc also helps to synthesize thyroid hormone and is beneficial in supporting thyroid function and hormone levels. Food sources of zinc include shellfish, scallops, oysters, meat, legumes, and nuts.
- Tyrosine: Tyrosine (an amino acid), in combination with iodine may help support healthy thyroid hormone levels.
- Vitamin D: Research has shown a strong association between vitamin D deficiency and hypothyroidism. Good sources include sunlight, fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel), fish liver oils, as well as cheese, egg yolks, fortified milk, and yogurt. Since it can be hard to get enough vitamin D through food, a supplement may be necessary.
In addition to the above, those with hypothyroidism should avoid excessive soy intake (which hinders the absorption of thyroid hormones), kelp supplements and excessive cabbage and cruciferous vegetables because, when eaten in large quantities, can negatively affect your thyroid. Taking your prescribed medication along with following a healthy diet, including plenty of whole unprocessed foods and lean protein and the right nutrients in the right amounts can go a long way towards maintaining a healthy weight, controlling symptoms and feeling better.*
*If you are pregnant, nursing, taking any medications or have any medical condition, please consult your healthcare practitioner before taking any dietary supplement.
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