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7 Natural Ingredients that Support Thyroid Function


by Dr. Nancy Rahnama

Director of Health & Nurition

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland oddly positioned in the lower neck that regulates our internal temperature, mood, heart rate, and blood pressure. When the thyroid is unable to work optimally, our internal world can be thrown into chaos. We may feel cold all the time, feel fatigue and sluggishness, depression and anxiety, and will gain weight quickly. It’s incredibly important to keep this essential gland as happy and healthy as possible, and the best way to do that is through the nutrition you eat. 

7 Natural Ingredients That Support Your Thyroid Function

 

1.    Selenium

Selenium is essential for thyroid hormone synthesis, which simply means that you need selenium for the hormones the thyroid produces to be used in the body. Selenium also has antioxidant benefits, which can help protect the thyroid from damage by free radicals.

Some foods that are rich in selenium are:

  • Nuts (brazil, macadamia, hazelnuts)

  • Fish (salmon, cod, haddock, perch, tuna)

  • Eggs

  • Legumes

  • Turkey

  • Grass-fed beef 

 

2.    Iodine

Iodine is also essential for thyroid hormone synthesis, as it is required for the production of thyroxine. Iodine deficiency is extremely common and is thought to affect nearly a third of the world’s population, though less so in first-world countries where iodized salt and seafood are widely available.

Some foods that are rich in iodine are:

  • Seaweed (kelp, nori, wakame)

  • Fish

  • Dairy (yogurt, milk)

  • Eggs

To make sure you’re getting enough iodine, switch your salt to iodized salt. 

 

3.    B Vitamins

B vitamins are essential for healthy thyroid function, especially B12. This is important to note for vegans, vegetarians, and others who avoid meat, as B12 can be difficult to come by outside of animal products. It’s particularly beneficial in fighting fatigue.

Some of the foods that are rich in B vitamins are:

  • Green vegetables (peas, beans, asparagus)

  • Seeds (sesame)

  • Fish (tuna)

  • Dairy (cheese and milk)

  • Eggs

If you do avoid dairy and other animal products, make sure you supplement your diet with B12.

 

4.    Vitamin A

Vitamin A is necessary for the activation of thyroid hormone receptors, which allow thyroid hormones into cells. They bind to hormones called thyroxine, so without vitamin A, our cells may not receive these necessary hormones.

Foods that contain vitamin A are:

  • Liver (beef, lamb, goose liver pate)

  • Fish (cod liver oil, king mackerel, salmon, tuna, caviar)

  • Dairy (butter, cheese)

  • Eggs

  • Sweet potato

  • Squash

  • Leafy greens (kale, collards, swiss chard, spinach, romaine)

  • Colorful veggies (carrots, red peppers)

  • Fruit (mango, cantaloupe, grapefruit, watermelon)

 

5.    Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a strong antioxidant that protects the thyroid from free-radical damage and it works together with selenium and iodine to ensure the thyroid can work optimally. Vitamin E deficiency is common in low thyroid patients.

Foods that contain vitamin E are:

  • Oil (wheat germ, sunflower, safflower, soybean)

  • Seeds (sunflower)

  • Nuts (almonds, peanuts)

  • Greens (beet greens, collard, spinach, asparagus)

  • Colored veggies (pumpkin, bell peppers)

  • Mango

  • Avocado 

 

6.    Tyrosine

Tyrosine is an amino acid that is necessary for thyroid activation and is an active component of the thyroid hormone itself.

Tyrosine can be found in:

  • Soy

  • Turkey

  • Fish

  • Nuts (peanuts, almonds)

  • Avocados

  • Bananas

  • Dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt)

  • Beans

  • Seeds (pumpkin, sesame)

 

7.    Zinc

Zinc is another mineral that helps activate and regulate thyroid hormones. Zinc deficiencies are rare in first-world countries, as it is abundant in our food, but that’s not to say that it’s not possible.

Foods that are rich in zinc are:

  • Shellfish (oysters)

  • Beef

  • Chicken 

 

What should I do if I think I have low thyroid?

If you have minor symptoms, make sure you supplement your diet with the vitamins and minerals we’ve covered here: selenium, iodine, B vitamins, and vitamin A and E. You can find all of these in most multivitamins. To ensure you have enough tyrosine in your diet, make sure you’re getting enough protein in your diet. If you don’t eat a lot of protein or are vegan or vegetarian, using a suitable protein powder will help you ensure you’re eating enough protein and getting the necessary tyrosine for your thyroid.

If you make these tweaks to your diet and still don’t see an improvement, make an appointment to speak to your doctor about the symptoms you’re having. Sometimes a thyroid can become damaged and so you may need to take hormones your thyroid can no longer produce.

 


Dr. Nancy Rahnama, MD, ABOM, ABIM, is a medical doctor board certified by both the American Board of Obesity Medicine and the American Board of Internal Medicine. Her specialty is Clinical Nutrition, that is, the use of nutrition by a medical doctor to diagnose and treat disease. Dr. Rahnama has helped thousands of people achieve their goals of weight loss, gut health, improved mood and sleep, and managing chronic disease. In addition to her private practice in Beverly Hills, she is also the co-founder and Director of Nutrition for Dr Nancy MD.

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