Importance of Nutrients in Thyroid Function
Photo by Brooke Lark
Micronutrients status is one of the most important aspect in your well being. Many of us have forgotten the reason behind eating. We should not eat to satisfy the feeling of being hungry but we should eat to provide our body with the right nutrients so it can function properly. Certain nutrients are absolutely required for your thyroid to perform all the functions.
You need different nutrients so your thyroid can produce hormones and convert them into active forms that can be used by your body. The thyroid gland is a little butterfly shaped organ in our neck and plays an important role in our metabolism, digestion, mental function, bowel movements, hair health, energy levels and many more.
Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid function is slowing down. It can happen due to different reasons, but one of them could be a lack of proper nutrients that are necessary for that gland to perform its best. It can also be due to Autoimmune Disease, Hashimoto's Hypothyroidism. When your immune system attacks your thyroid, it loses the ability of producing the proper amounts of hormones as it gets damaged. We are not sure what starts first, but we know that many people who suffer from Hashimoto's have many deficiencies that could play a very important role in thyroid dysfunction.
Below, I would like to describe several nutrients that play a significant role in thyroid function. It can be very beneficial and absolutely necessary to figure out if you are deficient in any of these if you suffer from hypothyroidism.
Tyrosine, an amino acid,is the building block of protein. It is a precursor to neurotransmitters and chemicals that support your mood, metabolism and thyroid function. Adequate levels of tyrosine help with fatigue, depression, improve cognitive function and may help in weight loss by optimizing proper thyroid hormones levels. High tyrosine foods that are beneficial to thyroid include pork, beef, fish, chicken, seeds, nuts,and cheese. I strongly suggest not to eat soy, even if it is a great source of protein. Soy has estrogenic activity which can negatively impact the thyroid function.
Iron is a very often overlooked reason for having low thyroid function. Many patients on Synthroid, a thyroid hormone replacement (synthetic T4), continue to experience typical low thyroid symptoms like cold hands and feet, tiredness,shortness of breath and joint pain. Well diagnosed iron levels must consider levels of stored iron. You can do it by checking the levels of ferritin. The optimal levels of ferritin are somewhere in the range 30-80ng/ml. If it is below that, it may be impairing your body's optimal performance. Iron plays an important role in production of T4 and conversion of T4 into T3.
Iodine is crucial in many functions in our body. Signs of inadequate amounts of iodine are many, but some of the most often are depression, the inability to lose weight, headaches, memory problems, fatigue, muscle weakness and joint stiffness. All of these symptoms are related to thyroid dysfunction as iodine is a component of the T4 hormone. It contains 4 molecules of iodine. Thyroid hormones play an important role in all metabolic activities in most of the cells and regulate growth and development of all organs.
Selenium and zinc are minerals that play a very important role in the conversion of the inactive form of thyroid hormone, T4, into the active form,T3. Significant signs of low selenium are low T3, extreme fatigue, mental slowing, goiter and miscarriages. Symptoms of low zinc are skin lesions, hair loss, diarrhea and facial puffiness. These symptoms very often persist even when synthetic thyroid hormones are prescribed. It happens because the most often prescribed thyroid hormone contains only T4 and deficiencies of zinc and selenium are not being corrected.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can help damaged thyroid tissue to recover. Damage occurs due to the imbalance between iodine and selenium amount available in the body. Selenium prevents damage from the hydrogen peroxide (oxydation) that is generated during conversion of iodide into iodine. If selenium is not present in the right amounts, or there is an excess of iodine, the oxidation process can damage thyroid tissue.
There is another important fact I need to mention. Most of the processes I described above are happening in the liver. Liver is a major organ responsible for detoxification. If the body has an overload of toxins it is not going to be able to perform all hormonal conversion. In order to keep up with detoxification, the liver needs different vitamins like Niacin (B3), Riboflavin( B2), pyridoxine (B6), B12, glutathione, folic acid and different amino acids.
Detoxification is often the first action I take with my clients. However, keep in mind that detoxification should be a slow process that supports all the pathways and phases of detoxification. I recommend you do it with the support of a Functional Medicine Practitioner as detoxification done wrong can bring more toxic burden and make you feel worse. Detoxification is a very deep subject and I am going to write about it in more detail in a separate article. I just want you to understand how important the role of nutrients is in our body and the health of our thyroid.
Please don't reach for supplements right away.A proper plan and figuring out what deficiencies may be affecting your health is a very important step in that long journey and that includes taking all aspects of your health under consideration. I recommend working with Functional Medicine Practitioners to work the plan together and take proper steps into better health.
I always recommend to check your micronutrients status. I like the Micronutrient Test by Spectra Cell. It is a very valuable test that can help discover many deficiencies of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants. You can read more by clicking here. If you are in North America you can also purchase the test on my website by following this link.
Stay tuned to the next article about thyroid health. We will talk about inflammation and food sensitivities that impact our thyroid function. We will also talk about what test you should do to check your thyroid function properly.
Eat Well. Stay Well.
The information provided on this website and my services are not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified Medical Doctor and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as sharing of knowledge and information from my own research, experience and other experts in this field. I encourage you to make your own health decisions based on your own research and in partnership with a qualified healthcare professional. The articles on this website are provided for informational purposes only and no promises, guarantees, representations or warranties of benefits have been made. I shall have no liability for any failure or success and the use of this information.