Updated: Oct 22, 2021
"Take this for your thyroid, take that for your thyroid." Before you know it, your cupboard is filled with an array of mysterious supplements and superfoods. But WHY? It's time to gain some clarity on the "WHYs" behind some of the most common supplements recommended for thyroid health.
B-Vitamins - These bad boys are essential to thyroid function and are often depleted if you have gut issues, are on birth control, or have had chronic emotional or physical stressors in your life. Each B-vitamin plays a different role, but most are needed for enzymes and cells to function properly. They're the groundwork for nearly any mechanism in your body - which makes sense that things go array in deficiencies. B6, specifically, has been used to reverse hypothyroid symptoms! And, curiously, nearly 40% of patients with hypothyroidism are deficient in B12. All to say, it's beyond simple and easy to take a good quality B-vitamin to fill in any potential gaps.
Iodine - It's great for your thyroid. It's terrible for your thyroid. Too little causes a goiter. Too much causes thyroid inflammation and is linked with thyroid cancer. So what's the truthful balance behind iodine?! We know it's essential to making thyroid hormone. T3 contains 3 iodines, whereas T4 means there are 4 iodines in the thyroid hormone. Your body does not make iodine so you must get it through your diet. However, there is a difference between eating foods with iodine and supplementing with iodine. Natural iodine is found in seafood, seaweed, water near the ocean, and iodized table salt. If you are supplementing, you know you are getting too much iodine if you start having a brass-like taste in your mouth and notice digestive upsets. Another simple home test is the iodine patch test. This is not the most accurate test BUT it's quick and cheap: Apply a quarter-sized patch of topical, yellow iodine on your abdomen. If the patch fades sooner than 24 hours, you are likely deficient. The sooner the iodine disappears the more deficient you are thought to be.
Selenium, Iron, and Zinc - These minerals are all essential for your body to convert inactive thyroid hormone (T4) to active thyroid hormone (T3). If you have a copper IUD, you may be prone to a deficiency in zinc because copper competes with zinc for absorption. If you have heavy menstrual cycles or chronic bleeding conditions such as stomach ulcers, Crohn's disease, or ulcerative colitis, then you're prone to iron deficiency due to loss of blood. This prenatal by Thorne is by far the most comprehensive supplement I have found to fill the gaps of any B-vitamin, iodine, selenium, iron, or zinc deficiency.
Progesterone - It's true. Progesterone is a thyroid agonist. This doesn't mean that estrogen is the antagonist...simply that most hypothyroid patients have too much estrogen in comparison to progesterone. The goal is to balance the two. If you have too much estrogen, it causes the liver to produce high amounts of thyroid binding globulin (TBG). TBG binds to T3 and T4 in the bloodstream, preventing them from entering cells....causing a hypothyroid picture. My favorite progesterone is somehow available on Amazon but PLEASE book an appointment to understand how to use it before self-prescribing.
Althaea officinalis - This beautiful herb is commonly called marshmallow root...which is fun in and of itself. 1TBSP of powder three times a day can help to restore the gut barrier for those with leaky gut syndromes. Having a strong gut lining is essential for bringing down inflammation, absorbing nutrients, and ridding of toxins and chemicals. For all my hypo and hyperthyroid patients...I LOVE using marshmallow root in powder form to help regulate bowel movements regardless of if you struggle with diarrhea or constipation. It's a regulating herb. AKA, potentially your new best friend if bowels are all over the place. Try it in apple sauce with cinnamon to bypass the taste!
That's all for now. See you around friends,
Dr. Chelsea Leander ND, RH (AHG)
This information is generalized and intended for educational purposes only. Due to potential individual contraindications, please see your primary care provider before implementing any strategies in these posts.