Thyroid Nutrients Overview
Good food + nutrients = a healthy thyroid.
Like all systems in the body, the thyroid too needs certain nutrients and foods to function properly. Thyroid hormones are made from Tyrosine (a protein) and iodine (a halide mineral).
T4 (4 iodine molecules) converts to T3 (3 iodine molecules) the active thyroid hormone, using the minerals zinc, selenium and Vitamin D3. So, without these nutrients your thyroid hormones cannot be converted into the active or usable form. If untreated, this will start to create a hypothyroid (under-active) or hyperthyroid (over-active) state.
Nutrients needed for thyroid function
Zinc: Needed for the immune system (helps with autoimmunity), involved in 400+ enzyme pathways
Selenium: needed for immunity and thyroid function, strongly antimicrobial and aids blood sugar level
Iodine: needed for every cell and hormone in the body, especially the thyroid
Vitamin A: needed for the immune system and antioxidants
Vitamin D3: needed for hormonal health and immunity and thyroid function
Tyrosine: A protein needed to make thyroid hormone, for adrenal function and for dopamine in the brain
3 foods to avoid if you have a thyroid problem
Goitrogens are naturally-occurring substances in some foods that can interfere with function of the thyroid gland. The name Goitrogens comes from the term ‘goitre’, which means an enlargement of the thyroid gland. This becomes extremely tricky for dietary management, as high cooking/processing will eliminate Goitrogens while at the same time reducing other nutritional content. It is also important that we are aware of the imbalances caused by modern living and the modern world. It is not a general health recommendation to avoid certain foods simply to keep a gland functioning. Seeing an integrated practitioner is particularly important, so they can make these decisions and recommendations at a personal level
Soy: tempeh, miso, soy beans, soy milk, tofu. Also make sure you check all package foods as soy is a common filler in these.
Cruciferous vegetables: cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage to name a few. They contain enzymes that interfere with the formation of thyroid hormone in people with iodine deficiency. Cooking for 30 minutes significantly reduces the amount of Goitrogens so they are fine to eat in moderation if cooked.
Millet: a high source of Goitrogens.
When Karen came to see us, she had already had her thyroid removed. She had almost died 2 years earlier from a severe hyperthyroid state. She had high hyper thyroid antibodies still, but of course was now presenting with signs of low thyroid function as she no longer had a thyroid gland. Her Thyroxine medication wasn’t working well for her. She was put on a specific dose of each of the above nutrients to improve the utilisation of her medication and within six weeks her low thyroid symptoms had gone. Incredibly so had her antibodies, something that is medically very difficult to achieve in such a short time span.
It goes to show how much of an impact nutrient levels have on thyroid function and also the impact they have on the medication and how well it works.
“The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.”
– Thomas Edison