Did you know that your thyroid’s hormones power every cell in your entire body? From regulating your heart rate and temperature to supporting metabolism, brain function, and digestion, it plays a vital role in nearly every area of your health.
However, in order for your thyroid and its hormones to function optimally, it relies on a number of key vitamins and minerals.
Deficiencies in any of these nutrients are among the most common root causes of thyroid dysfunction, including Hashimoto’s, Graves’ (which are autoimmune thyroid conditions), as well as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
Fortunately, restoring optimal levels of these nutrients is often one of the quickest and easiest ways to start seeing improvements in your symptoms while you work to tackle the larger root causes of your condition.
7 Important Nutrients for Thyroid Health
So let’s go over 7 important nutrients for thyroid function and the 2 biggest mistakes I see when it comes to nutritional testing and supplementation.
The enzyme that converts thyroid hormones from T4 to T3 (so from their inactive state to their active state) is dependent on selenium. So without enough of it, your thyroid hormones are stuck in their inactive state, leading to slowed metabolic function, hair loss, weight gain, fatigue, and other hypothyroid symptoms.
Selenium is particularly helpful for anyone with autoimmune thyroid dysfunction, including Hashimoto’s and Graves’ disease, because it prevents oxidative damage to the thyroid, which can trigger an autoimmune response.
Studies have even found that a dose of 200 mcg of selenium per day can reduce TPO antibodies by about 50 percent within 3 months!
This mineral plays a role in 3 key areas that impact autoimmune thyroid conditions – immune function, gut health, and thyroid function. With the thyroid specifically, zinc supports the production of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, known as TSH, and converts thyroid hormones to their active state.
Iron plays 2 important roles in thyroid health. First, it converts the iodide that you eat into iodine, which your thyroid uses to create thyroid hormones. Second, it also helps thyroid hormones to their active state.
Low levels of iron are often associated with thyroid-related hair loss and fatigue, especially in premenopausal women.
4. Omega 3s
Once your body has produced thyroid hormones and converted them into T4 so that they can energize and fuel you, next they need to enter your cells so they can attach to thyroid hormone receptors and actually do their job.
You need nice healthy cell walls in order for that to work properly, and these cell walls are made of fat, which is why you want plenty of Omega 3 fatty acids.
Additionally, they help fight inflammation, which is key since most thyroid dysfunction is autoimmune, and autoimmunity is caused by an overworked immune system, i.e. chronic inflammation.
5. Vitamin A
Another nutrient that helps your thyroid hormones do their job is vitamin A, which helps activate your thyroid hormone receptors inside your cells throughout your entire body. Additionally, low vitamin A levels may reduce thyroid function.
New research even suggests that vitamin A supplementation may decrease the risk of hypothyroidism in premenopausal women.
6. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is an immune system modulator, and without enough of it, your immune system is more likely to go rogue and mistakenly attack your own tissues. This is exactly what happens in Hashimoto’s and Graves’ when your immune system attacks your thyroid. It’s no wonder then that low levels of vitamin D have been associated with higher thyroid antibodies.
Unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency is incredibly common, and even more so among Hashimoto’s and Graves’ patients.
One study found that 82% of the Hashimoto’s and Graves’ patients in their research group were deficient in vitamin D. And, that patients with higher levels of thyroid antibodies (meaning their conditions were more severe) had significantly lower levels of vitamin D.
7. Vitamin E
What we call vitamin E is actually a group of 8 fat-soluble antioxidant compounds that are involved in immune function, metabolic processes, and gene expression regulation.
Research has found that oxidative stress often accompanies hypothyroidism and since vitamin E is a collection of antioxidants, it helps protect against damage and improve thyroid symptoms.
2 Common Mistakes with Nutritional Testing & Supplementation
Now I want to talk for a minute about the importance of nutritional testing because there are two major mistakes that people often make when it comes to nutritional deficiencies.
The first is that they assume that because they’re eating a whole foods, paleo, or AIP diet that they don’t have any nutritional deficiencies. The truth is that we often can’t get all of the nutrients we need from our diet alone, no matter how healthy it is, thanks to factors like soil depletion, toxin exposures, chronic stress, and other issues in our modern environment.
Also, even if you are eating all of the nutrients you need, you may not actually be absorbing them if you’re dealing with leaky gut, low stomach acid, or gut infections such as SIBO, Candida, or intestinal parasites.
The second mistake people often make is that they waste a bunch of money taking nutritional supplements to overcome deficiencies they don’t even have. Without comprehensive testing you can’t know exactly what supplements you need, so you may be overdoing it or focusing in the wrong areas. Also, if you’re dealing with the barriers to absorption I just mentioned, then you may be taking supplements without actually benefiting from them.
In my clinic, we use a blood and urine test called NutrEval for a comprehensive nutritional analysis and use your results to design a dietary and supplement protocol based on your specific needs. We also often use a comprehensive stool analysis called GI MAP™ to evaluate your digestive health and identify and treat any issues that may affect nutrient absorption.
If you’re ready for an integrative approach to overcoming thyroid dysfunction that’s based on real answers and not guessing in the dark, check out our Adaptation Program and book your free 10-minute discovery call with me.
About the Author: Dr. Seth Osgood is a Doctor of Nursing Practice, Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner and Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM) Certified Practitioner. Dr. Osgood received his post-graduate training in Functional Medicine through the IFM and from working with Dr. Amy Myers. He has helped people from around the world improve their health utilizing a Functional Medicine approach.