Do you know how important your thyroid is for your health, and metabolism?
It’s a teeny tiny gland in your neck that powers much of your system:
- digestive function
- bone maintenance
- heart rate
- fertility and getting pregnant
- periods/ hormone production in the entire body
- allergies and sensitivities
- … and more
The thyroid produces thyroxine and triiodothyronine; 20% of the body’s triiodothyronine is made by the thyroid and 80% of it is made by the conversion of thyroxine to triiodothyronine in organize like liver and kidneys. The thyroid also produces calcitonin (in cells called C-cells)- that is KEY for regulating calcium levels in the body too.
One of the most common health issues I find in clients is inadequate thyroid function (called hypothyroid- clinically or subclinically– which means that it’s not formally diagnosed but behind the scenes). The thyroid is a SUPER sensitive gland that requires many key nutrients to function properly. And one of the things I get most frustrated about with various docs is that they often forget to prompt clients to increase various nutrients/ activities/ stress management before putting people on thyroid medications. Now sometimes medications and compounded support is needed- but it’s always good to boost nutrients that are thyroids REALLY need- if we’re talking about a sluggish thyroid.
Ok, let’s dive in…
6 Key Nutrients Your Thyroid Needs
B2/ B6/B12: All of these B vitamins are essential for thyroid health. B vitamins are key for protein synthesis/ metabolism, cell production in the body. B12 in particular is key for production of proteins in the body and research suggests that often in hypothyroid there is frequently B12 deficiency. B6 is required for utilization of raw materials for iodine to be utilized and optimized. The rest of the B’s are also key. You can get various B vitamins from mostly animal proteins (chicken, fish, beef, eggs, but also grains, beans, nuts, dark leafy greens). When needed I’ll have clients take a B complex – I like this Pure Encapsulations B Complex.
Iodine: A key building block of thyroid hormones, and really key to thyroid function. Many people do often get enough, but many often don’t. Tyrosine is converted into thyroglobulin and attaches between one and four iodine atoms to create hormones T3, and T4. Therefore without enough iodine your thyroid simply can’t produce enough thyroid hormone. Foods that contain iodine: sea vegetables (seaweed), fish, dairy products, supplements (I like Thorne Iodine with Tyrosine)
Selenium: Selenium is a key nutrient that most of us need more of- it’s not found in too many foods. Selenium is key to thyroid function because of it’s ability to stimulate the enzyme that converts the inactive form of thyroid hormone (T4) to the active form (T3) (as in the enzyme is selenium-dependent). Sufficient selenium status helps to revers autoimmune thyroiditis too. Foods you can find selenium in include Brazil nuts, meat, poultry, and fish.
Zinc: Zinc is key for converting T4 thyroid hormone to the active T3. Zinc is also key when it comes to balancing thyroid hormone production from the perspective of your hypothalamus to gage how much thyroid hormone is free-flowing in the body. It’s key for sensing that we need more. When zinc status is low, our thyroid function may also be low. Find zinc in animal protein- like shellfish, chicken, fish, red meat, and also dairy, seeds and nuts.
Vitamin D: Research suggests that low Vitamin D status increases risk for hypothyroidism. Vitamin D in another study improved Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) in those with hypothyroidism. Vitamin D isn’t necessarily directly connected with production of thyroid hormones, but seems to be quite important for thyroid function. You can get Vitamin D through sunshine, and fortified foods, as well as vitamins (for most people I recommend 2500 IU daily – I like this Jarrow 2500 IU D3).
Iron: Iron is key for thyroid hormone production for a few reasons. The first is that iron is required for converting iodide to iodine (the active form), Iron is also required to convert T4 to T3 (the active form)- so without adequate iron our thyroid can be in trouble. Try eating more animal protein (all of it will do), or spinach, kale, beans, grains- these too. If you need a supplement I like this Trace Minerals Ionic Iron product- I’ve had great success with it!
One of my favorite all-around supplements to support thyroid function in total is this Pure Encapsulations Thyroid Support Supplement– it’s great. It’s a great place to start before starting medications for thyroid- and/or also in conjunction with thyroid medications. Just tell your doc you’ve done this because you may need less thyroid medication as a result (*MAY is the operative word here).
Start with food, but don’t be shy to support your thyroid from extra vitamins, it can really be of help! If you’ve got sluggish thyroid or hypothyroid- examine how many of these key nutrients you’re getting. It really may not be enough!