How Diet Plays an Important Role in Thyroid Health

Last week’s blog focused on the early symptoms of thyroid disease and early indicators that you may have a thyroid issue. Although usually treated with medication, your diet can also play an important role in supporting your thyroid health.  As with many health conditions, some factors are out of your control, including genetics. But diet also plays a prominent role — and one that you are in control of. Limiting sugar intake or following a gluten-free diet may help improve symptoms. In addition, the following nutrients play a key role in supporting healthy thyroid function and hormone levels.

  • 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, 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 nutritional supplement may be necessary.
  • Probiotics: Your gut bacteria play a central role in regulating your thyroid hormones. Your gut is one of the biggest reservoirs for thyroid hormones and converts T3, a thyroid hormone, into T4, the main hormone that’s often low in hypothyroidism.  A high-quality probiotic food such as kefir and yogurt and/or a high-quality probiotic supplement can help balance your gut bacteria and support the conversion of thyroid hormones.

Taking your prescribed medication along with following a healthy diet, including plenty of whole unprocessed foods and lean protein along with the right nutrients in the right amounts may help to control symptoms and maintain a healthy weight. If your regular diet doesn’t supply adequate nutrients, you may want to consider a personalized nutritional supplement form to ensure you are meeting your daily needs.


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