It is estimated that 27 million Americans will have a thyroid condition at some point in their lifetime. The thyroid is a gland located at the base of the neck. It’s responsible for many functions within the body including manage thyroid hormones, control heart rate, body temperature, liver, kidney and skin health and much more. It influences your metabolism rate which means that it influences how fast or slow certain parts of your body such as your heart, muscles, liver, brain and other parts of your body work.
If your thyroid is overactive (known as hyperthyroidism) or underactive (known as hypothyroidism) the thyroid hormone production will be off and the areas of your body correlated with the thyroid will be irregular as well.
An underactive thyroid can influence the body in ways not beneficial to health. Irregular heartbeat, poor circulation, cold skin, hands and feet. Muscle weakness, loss of hair and ringing in the ears can all be signs of hypothyroidsm.
An overactive thyroid on the other hand influences the body negatively as well. Some of the same symptoms of an underactive thyroid apply to an overactive thyroid, such as heart irregularities, muscle weakness etc. Additionally irritability, insomnia and warm skin or excessive sweating can be signs.
The key difference between the two is that an underactive thyroid lowers vitality and body heat. An overactive thyroid will cause you to be hotter, sweat excessively etc. The two main thyroid hormones are known as T3 and T4. You can get your thyroid hormone levels tested as well as seeing if you have any nutritional deficiencies that could correlate to harmed thyroid health. Once you know where your thyroid hormones are at and if you have any nutritional deficiencies you can get a clearer picture of whether or not you need to move forward to optimize and improve your thyroid health further. Taking your body temperature upon waking for a week straight can also help you see if you have any potential thyroid issues.
I personally have dealt with hypothyroidism for several years so i’ve read and researched a lot on this topic. I’ve learned that specific nutrients when deficient will cause hypothyroidism. By consuming foods that are rich in these nutrients you can get your thyroid healthy and thyroid humming again.
4 Nutrients That Keep Your Thyroid Humming:
1. Iodine: Iodine is the main source of fuel to produce these thyroid hormones. Based on my research it is the most important nutrient for hypothyroidism. If you have an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) then eating foods rich in Iodine will help. Sea vegetables such as seaweed, kelp, nori and dulse are some of the best sources. Cranberries, strawberries and potatoes are also great sources of Iodine.
2. Selenium: Selenium is another important nutrient for thyroid health. Second to iodine for one reason. The thyroid gland contains more selenium by weight than any other organ. In other words, when you ingest selenium the body routes it to your thyroid gland as a priority over any other organ. Selenium is important for thyroid production as well. It helps the body convert the T4 to T3 hormone. It also protects the thyroid gland in a natural self-defense mechanism way by managing oxidative damage caused by iodine and hydrogen peroxide that the cells of the thyroid gland actually create. Selenium keeps iodine in check and helps manage thyroid hormones. Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, white and shiitake mushrooms, asparagus and mustard seeds are some of the best whole food sources of selenium.
3. Zinc: In animal studies zinc deficiencies lowered T3 and T4 thyroid hormones by 30%. Taking a zinc supplement for 12 months normalized the T3 and T4 levels. It is important to not take too much zinc as high levels do interfere with copper absorption and will harm the thyroid if it’s taken in excess. Spinach, pumpkin seeds, cashews, cacao (chocolate), chickpeas and white button mushrooms are great whole food sources of zinc.
4. Iron: Being deficient in Iron also restricts thyroid hormone production. Adequate levels of iodine improve thyroid health and thyroid hormone production. Having enough available iron also supports the benefits of iodine as well as they work together. Whole foods rich in iodine include pumpkin seeds, squash seeds, cashews, hazlenuts, almonds, white beans, spinach and once again cacao are great sources of iron.I hope you noticed that certain foods such as spinach, mushrooms, nuts, seeds and chocolate contain a few of the nutrients above that benefit an underactive thyroid. Pay attention to those foods and definitely include them in your diet because they will help you in multiple ways.
Other nutrients such as vitamin E, D and B12 are beneficial as well. Foods like coconut oil and turmeric are great thyroid modulators to help regulate the thyroid whether you have hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. One study with rats found that turmeric helped rats with hypothyroidism to balance thyroid hormone levels effectively, another study found that when paired with vitamin e it benefited as well. If you decide to take an iodine supplement I recommend nascent iodine because this form of iodine has been shown to work best in studies.