Thyroid Nutrition

Statistics show that 25 million Americans have been diagnosed with thyroid disease in the USA. Experts estimate that there are another 15 million undiagnosed Americans with thyroid disease. Women are four times more likely to have thyroid problems than men. Statistically, one out of every eight woman will have a thyroid imbalance in their lifetime and one out of every five woman over sixty have a thyroid problem.

thyroid_nutrition_picThe standard thyroid hormone test that most medical doctors use is only able to diagnose part of the population with thyroid imbalances because that test only checks for thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). Researchers have now found that the TSH level could be normal while one of the other thyroid hormones could be low such as T1, T2, T3, or T4. Unfortunately, this new science has not yet become common knowledge among most “old school” medical doctors.

Another fact is that modern science has now found that there are many nutrients involved in the production of all thyroid hormones. I’ll bet that most of us know we need the amino acid tyrosine and the mineral iodine in adequate amounts to produce thyroid hormones. However, there are so many more nutrients that are important for the thyroid to function properly. Here is a list of the nutrients and what they are needed for. I am sure that as time goes on and science becomes more advanced, the list will grow longer.    

Vitamin A activates a gene that regulates TSH. People with low thyroid function called hypothyroidism have a reduced ability to convert beta-carotene into vitamin A. That is why people with low thyroid function sometimes look yellow.

Vitamin B2, riboflavin, is needed for thyroid enzyme regulation. B2 assists with the organification of iodine. Organification is a biochemical process that takes place in thyroid glands where iodine and other nutrients are used for the production of thyroid hormones.

Vitamin B3, a.k.a. niacin, is also needed for the organification of iodine.

Vitamin B6 is one of the many nutrients required by the 5-deiodinase enzyme responsible for proper T3 production.

Vitamin 12 is also required by the 5-deiodinase enzyme responsible for proper T3 production.

A deficiency of Vitamins B6, B9 (Folate), or B12 can lead to an elevated homocysteine level. An elevated homocysteine level has been linked to hypothyroid conditions.    

vitamin_c_great_for_thyroid_health_picVitamin C assists in the healthy function of the sodium iodide symporter (NIS) which allows the cells to absorb iodine.

Vitamin D is needed for proper T3 production.

Copper is needed in trace amounts to produce thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). It’s also required for T4. When the body’s supply of copper is low the T4 production goes down.

Iodine is a crucial building block of thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormone T3 is called that because it has 3 iodine molecules and T4 because it has 4 iodine molecules.

Iron is also required by the 5-deiodinase enzyme responsible for proper T3 production.

Magnesium assists in the regulation of thyroid function.

Selenium is needed for the production of an enzyme called iodothyronine deiodinase. This enzyme controls the removal of iodine molecules to convert T4 to T3, T3 to T2, and T2 to T1. Selenium also helps the body to recycle its iodine stores

Zinc assists in the conversion of the T4 thyroid hormone to the more active T3 thyroid hormone. When zinc is low in the body, TSH, T4, and T3 can become low in the body.

L-Tyrosine is an amino acid that is very important for the thyroid gland.  It works with iodine to activate T3 and T4.  L-tyrosine attaches itself to iodine atoms to form active thyroid hormone.

almonds_peanuts_soy_not_good_for_thyroid_health_picThe following foods should only be consumed occasionally if you have a low thyroid. They are referred to as goitrogens; these foods can lower thyroid function. Almonds, canola oil, corn, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, cabbage, collard greens, millet, pears, turnips, mustard, peanuts, pine nuts, peaches, and soy.   

For those people who have autoimmune thyroid conditions (Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Graves’ disease), I suggest avoiding gluten because there has been a recent connection between gluten intolerance and autoimmune thyroid disease.   

Another factor to be aware of is how stress affects the thyroid. When we are stressed we produce a stress hormone called cortisol that inhibits thyroid hormones. Prolonged stress can eventually lead to hypothyroidism.

A diet rich in antioxidants will help the thyroid gland to neutralize oxidative stress. In Graves’ disease, a common form of hyperthyroidism, oxidative stress can be very high because the thyroid is more active. It uses more oxygen which leads to an accumulation of oxygenated compounds that can harm your cells. This is why a great antioxidant formula is particularly helpful in hyperthyroidism.

If you choose to see a healthcare practitioner because you suspect a thyroid imbalance, request a full thyroid hormone panel, not just a TSH test. If you have the full hormone panel, I also suggest having your nutrient levels tested by a lab that checks the levels inside the white blood cells, and not having a serum blood test for these nutrients. Serum blood tests show the nutrient levels floating around between the cells where the levels fluctuate constantly. The serum blood test for nutrients is not an accurate way to test for these nutrients. Unfortunately, the medical profession is slow to catch on to the new science. Spectracell laboratories offer a micronutrient test that looks at the white blood cells where the nutrient levels do not fluctuate and is a more accurate way to check for nutrient deficiencies.

Every cell and organ in our bodies requires specific amino acids, minerals, and vitamins to carry out their functions. In these modern times it is extremely difficult to get enough micronutrients in our diet to supply all the body’s needs. We all come from different gene pools and have different lifestyles. We all have different areas in our bodies that are weak links where dis-ease will show up first. If we don’t correct nutritional deficiencies, dis-ease progresses and other dis-eases start to show up. My suggestion is to make sure you are getting enough of all the nutrients by supplementing a healthy diet with a complete, 100% food-extracted multiple vitamin and mineral complex. But be sure that your multiple is free of synthetic vitamins because they are sometimes counterproductive. The best multi I have seen is the Raw Vitamins for Him and Her from Sunwarrior. I also suggest the Liquid Light for those all-important minerals.  

Craig B Sommers ND, CN

*Please consult your doctor for foods you can eat if you have a thyroid that does not work at all. These foods may not help the thyroid in those cases.


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