For some people, managing hypothyroidism isn’t just about taking medications. They also turn to vitamins and other nutrients for help in managing the condition, which occurs when the thyroid doesn’t make enough thyroid hormone.
“Vitamins and nutrients can help fight the underlying causes of thyroid disorders, such as autoimmune processes and inflammation, and help improve a dysfunctional thyroid,” says Raphael Kellman, MD, a functional medicine physician in New York City and author of “The Microbiome Diet.”
“You also want to make sure you have all the facts on the vitamins and minerals you’d like to supplement with,” says MaryAnne Metzak, RD, CDN, a registered dietitian at Staten Island University Hospital in New York. And it’s important to keep the lines of communication open between you and your doctor. “Your doctor needs to know exactly how much of each vitamin and supplement you’re taking in case you have a negative reaction,” Metzak says.
Specific nutrients that may be beneficial for hypothyroidism include:
Iodine. You need an adequate supply of iodine to make thyroid hormone. The recommended minimum iodine intake for most adults is 150 micrograms a day, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. Good food sources include milk, cheese, poultry, eggs, kelp, and other seaweeds, Kellman says. “But you have to be careful with supplementing iodine because too much can be problematic and actually cause hypothyroidism,” he says.
Vitamin B. “Vitamin B is important for people with hypothyroidism because the B vitamins have many interactions with thyroid function and hormone regulation,” Metzak says. It’s best to take a nutritional supplement that includes the entire vitamin B complex, and you may need additional vitamin B12 if a blood test reveals your levels are low, she says. Good food sources of vitamin B include whole grains, legumes, nuts, milk, yogurt, meat, fish, eggs, seeds, and dark leafy greens.
Selenium. “Selenium supports efficient thyroid synthesis and metabolism,” says Denise Londergan, RD, MPH, a registered dietitian at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. Foods that provide selenium include tuna, shrimp, salmon, sardines, scallops, lamb, chicken, beef, turkey, eggs, and shitake mushrooms. “Or you can take 100 to 200 micrograms of selenium in supplement form per day,” Kellman says.
Zinc. In addition to selenium, zinc plays a role in the conversion of the thyroid hormone T4 to T3. Metzak says selenium and zinc are beneficial in improving thyroid function and hormone levels. Food sources of zinc include shellfish, mollusks, meat, legumes, and nuts. “If you opt for a zinc supplement, 30 milligrams is sufficient,” Kellman says.
Tyrosine. “Tyrosine is a nutrient involved in thyroid hormone production and conversion,” Kellman says. One of the best ways to get more tyrosine, an amino acid, is to make sure you’re getting enough protein, Londergan says. Aim for 10 to 35 percent of your calories from protein each day.
Vitamin D. “Research has shown a strong association with vitamin D deficiency and people with hypothyroidism,” Metzak says. In a study published in the November 2013 issue of the International Journal of Health Sciences, researchers looked at the vitamin D levels of 30 people with hypothyroidism and 30 who didn’t have the condition and found that the vitamin D levels were significantly lower in those with hypothyroidism. You can get vitamin D from fortified milk, yogurt, and orange juice. “Food sources of vitamin D are often not adequate, however,” Kellman says. He recommends supplements for those who are vitamin D deficient. Your doctor can let you know if that’s necessary, and which dosage is best for you.
Probiotics. “The microbiome in the gut plays a critical role in many physiological processes, including thyroid function,” Kellman says. Because of this, he recommends taking a probiotic supplement. “I don’t necessarily recommend the supplement with the highest number of bacteria — although that’s important — but supplements with the most diversity,” he says. To get the maximum amount of different bacteria, Kellman recommends changing your probiotic supplement often.
As with any chronic condition, a healthy diet can go a long way with hypothyroidism. “Eat an anti-inflammatory diet full of lots of fruits and vegetables and unprocessed foods, and limit sugar,” Londergan says.
for quality supplementation.
Eat whole foods, seaweeds, kelp, yellow colored whole foods, get adequate sleep and de-stress.