Some people with thyroid disorders may be deficient in certain nutrients, and it may be beneficial to increase the levels. However, taking supplements can also pose serious health risks for people with thyroid disorders or healthy thyroids. More and more retailers are offering over-the-counter supplements with labels stating that they support thyroid health, such as providing energy or aiding in weight loss.
According to a 2013 article, most of these claims have no scientific basis, and some of these products may contain ingredients that are potentially dangerous for people with certain thyroid conditions. In people with a healthy thyroid, taking extra nutrients may increase the risk of thyroid complications.
Also, taking too many thyroid supplements can interfere with a person’s thyroid blood test results. This article examines the pros and cons of taking thyroid supplements and the effect of specific nutrients on thyroid health. It also explains which supplements may be beneficial for certain thyroid disorders.
Can taking dietary supplements help fight thyroid disorders?
According to the British Thyroid Foundation, no specific dietary supplement can help treat thyroid disorders. The best way to promote thyroid health is to follow a balanced diet that includes the correct levels of necessary nutrients.
However, taking additional nutrients may contribute to thyroid health in some people who have difficulty following a balanced diet, including:
– people on a restrictive diet
– pregnant or breastfeeding people
– people with thyroid disorders
– people with other underlying health conditions
A doctor can help identify the correct dosage and determine if supplements may affect thyroid blood test results. Consuming high amounts of certain nutrients can harm thyroid health, cause side effects, or pose general health risks.
The 6 nutrients that affect thyroid health found in food
Iodine deficiency can cause thyroid disorders. People with healthy thyroids need to have appropriate levels of iodine in their bodies. The recommended daily intake of iodine is relatively low, at 150 micrograms (mcg) for people over 19 years old. However, teenagers and pregnant women need a slightly higher dose, namely 220 mcg. And those who are breastfeeding need 290 mcg. Taking too much iodine in the form of supplements can cause hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, and hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid. In people with hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, taking iodine supplements may be unnecessary or potentially dangerous.
Doctors usually prescribe drugs that contain the hormones T3 and T4. The thyroid gland uses iodine to make these hormones. However, some commercially available supplements contain a higher dosage of T3 and T4 than prescribed by doctors. This can lead to iatrogenic thyrotoxicosis, which can be fatal.
Naturally available sources of iodine in the diet include:
– Greek yogurt
A person should avoid natural supplements and stimulants that contain kelp. It could have adverse effects on thyroid function. People with thyroid disease may not benefit from consuming kelp.
The body needs selenium for antioxidant function and thyroid hormone metabolism. Selenium deficiency can lead to thyroid dysfunction.
However, there is not enough evidence to suggest that selenium supplements can reduce a person’s risk of thyroid disorders.
Selenium supplements may benefit people with Hashimoto’s disease.
However, a high selenium intake in people without a deficiency can cause various conditions, such as hyperglycemia, atherosclerosis or cancer.
Dietary sources of selenium include:
– dairy products
– the bread
The body needs zinc for the functioning of the thyroid. Zinc plays a role in the synthesis and metabolism of thyroid hormones. However, taking too much zinc for long periods of time can cause digestive symptoms or lead to low copper levels or decreased immunity.
Good dietary sources of zinc include
– Red meat
– seafood, such as crab and lobster
– fortified breakfast cereals
Iron deficiency anemia can cause hypothyroidism. However, taking too much iron can lead to toxicity, decrease zinc absorption and interact with medications. For example, iron tablets and multivitamins that contain iron can affect the body’s ability to absorb thyroxine. Some people with hypothyroidism, goiter, or thyroid cancer may take thyroxine as a medication. Therefore, some doctors recommend waiting a few hours after taking thyroxine before taking an iron supplement.
A person can incorporate iron into their diet by consuming the following foods:
– lean meat
– White beans
– Red beans
5 Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a common dietary supplement that helps the body regulate calcium and phosphate production. Some studies have shown possible links between low vitamin D levels and thyroid cancer and autoimmune thyroid diseases, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease. Taking too much vitamin D can be dangerous. This almost always happens when taking supplements and can lead to kidney failure.
A person can get more vitamin D in their diet by consuming the following foods:
– oily fish
– fish liver oils
– fortified foods, such as
– Orange juice
– the cereals
6 Vitamin A
Vitamin A regulates thyroid hormone metabolism and inhibits thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). In a 2017 review researchers point to the essential role of vitamin A in thyroid function. For example, vitamin A deficiency can aggravate thyroid disorders that have occurred due to iodine deficiency. Retinoids, a type of vitamin A, can negatively affect iodine metabolism.
Food sources of vitamin A include Trusted Source:
– beef liver
– green leafy vegetables
– dairy products
Supplements for Hashimoto’s Disease
Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disorder that is a common cause of hypothyroidism. In this disease, antibodies attack the thyroid gland, making it unable to produce enough thyroid hormone.
The following supplements may support healthy thyroid function in someone with Hashimoto’s disease:
– Selenium: A 2018 study found that giving 200 mcg of selenium supplements daily may decrease thyroid antibodies in people with Hashimoto’s disease. Side effects were also minimal.
– Myo-Inositol: This sugar facilitates thyroid function. A 2017 study found that giving people with Hashimoto 600 milligrams (mg) of Myo-Inositol and 83 mcg of selenium may promote thyroid health.
– Iron: People with Hashimoto’s disease are more likely to be iron deficient, especially menstruating women.
Thyroid disorders are complex health conditions that require treatment by qualified healthcare professionals. Taking supplements can be beneficial for some people in certain circumstances, but it can also cause symptoms to worsen or lead to other health risks.
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