A Comprehensive Guide to Thyroid Supplements {Hashimoto's/hypothyroid}

A Comprehensive Guide to Thyroid Supplements- Part 1

Megan Essential Oils & Supplements, Healing Diets, Health & Nutrition 16 Comments

I am not a doctor, nor do I pretend to be one. Please consult a healthcare practitioner before making a change in your healthcare regimen. Thank you for supporting this site with purchases made through links in this post. 

The thyroid’s chief role in the endocrine system is to regulate the metabolism. This is why those with hypothyroidism, or a sluggish thyroid, tend to struggle with weight gain and/or low energy levels.

Yet our bodies’ ability to break down food and turn it into energy can be supported with well-chosen supplements. That’s the purpose of this post. Which supplements aid the thyroid in its production of the hormones T4 and T3, help to convert T4 to the more active T3, and work to protect the thyroid?

I’ve written a post entitled Top 5 Supplements for Hashimoto’s for Traditional Cooking School. This post, Parts 1 & 2 (because there’s SO much information), combined with the supplements examined in that article, comprise a complete look at the key supplements recommended by leading functional practitioners who specialize in thyroid disorders.

The breadth of this topic is huge. I’ve spent countless hours researching the topic, which has had great benefits for my own health, and hopefully yours too! I’ve actually had a couple of breakthroughs from new supplements since I began this series! May this series begin your process of discovery, too, and an improvement of symptoms!

Please always keep in mind, too, when assisting your body in thyroid support, to keep stress low. I like the words of one Hashimoto’s practitioner who said, “We have so much physiologic stress that added emotional stress is incredibly destructive.” (source and source)

SUPPLEMENTS

Glutathione

Glutathione is an antioxidant that helps our bodies to detoxify. It supports liver function, destroys free radicals, and even heals damage caused by heavy metals. Glutathione also calms an overactive autoimmune response.

Depletion of glutathione can occur due to stress and from a compromised ability to methylate (detoxify) properly. Many of the supplements practitioners recommend to ensure proper glutathione synthesis are already recommended for general thyroid support!: B vitamins, zinc, magnesium, selenium, vitamin C and E (and lipoic acid). And I’ve discussed before the helpful nature of N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC), which is a precursor to glutathione production.

This glutathione supplement contains B-6 and NAC. It helps the body to detoxify, provides energy and mental clarity, and helps to regulate the metabolism.

Fatty Fish

While I once would have taken a supplement to amend my essential fatty acid (EFA) intake, I’m now intentional to turn to whole foods.

Essential fatty acids help to prevent and reduce inflammation caused by an overactive immune response. The best source for EFAs is fatty fish. Despite the increased cost to our grocery bill, I now stop at the fish market twice a week. Certainly well-sourced frozen fish is a good option, too, and more economical.

Chris Kresser, functional medical doctor, says this:

If you are generally healthy, the best strategy is to consume about 12 to 16 ounces of cold-water fatty fish or shellfish each week. When possible, whole foods are always my first recommendation…fish and shellfish contain many other beneficial nutrients that fish oil does not, including selenium, zinc, iron, and highly absorbable protein. (source)

We can also be mindful of our overall diet, taking care that it’s not only high in omega-3s but low in omega-6s. This means buying grass-fed meat, dairy and eggs.

For some it might mean eating less chicken breast and instead eating more chicken thigh and skin. But most importantly, it means cutting out refined and processed foods, and using traditional fats like lard, butter, coconut oil and extra-virgin olive oil, instead of vegetable fats. A gradual increase in consumption of essential fatty acids helps to balance the immune response.

Vitamin A through Liver Pills

Vitamin A is used by our bodies to regulate hormone levels and to prevent the enlargement of the thyroid. Vitamin A has been shown to restore proper thyroid function. (source and source)

Vitamin A supplementation in children has also been shown to reduce the risk of hypothyroidism. (source)

Animal sourced vitamin A is key for ready absorption and conversion in our bodies. Liver, or liver pills, provide the most concentrated source of vitamin A in nature, and prevent vitamin A toxicity that synthetic vitamin A supplements can cause. I take 4-6 capsules daily. Liver pills are the easiest way to get pasture-raised liver! (Get 10% off liver pills by using the coupon code BEAUTIFUL 10 at check out.)

Smaller but significant amounts of vitamin A can also be obtained from Rosita’s cod liver oil (I LOVE this capsule form, so you don’t have to taste it!), grass-fed butter and egg yolks. (source) (Use the coupon code BEAUTIFUL10 if you purchase cod liver oil through the link for 10% off your purchase.)

A Comprehensive Guide to Thyroid Supplements {Hashimoto's/hypothyroid}

Magnesium

Alan L. Rubin, MD, author of Thyroid for Dummies, says, “Thyroid hormone is required for the muscles of the stomach and intestines to push food along for digestion and excretion. When an insufficient amount of thyroid hormone is present, intestinal movement slows, as well as the absorption of food. The common complaint is constipation.”

Thyroid hormone is also required for proper liver function (think detoxification) and for the liver to produce enough bile. Not surprisingly, those with Hashimoto’s often do not digest their food well, do not absorb nutrients fully, do not detoxify properly, and suffer from constipation. Of course we will have decreased energy and inflammation.

I have found three supplements to be more important than any others when overcoming constipation. They are two prebiotics and magnesium citrate. I take 4 magnesium supplements nightly (although it’s best to start with fewer and increase as needed), and the prebiotics each morning, 1 capsule of each.

Prebiotic number one is Biotagen by Klaire Labs. The second prebiotic is Galactomune by Klaire Labs. Both products are designed to promote a healthier colon ecosystem by providing food for probiotics, which in turn produce more T cells! I LOVE how these two prebiotics make my body feel and work more effectively.

Even for those thyroid patients who do not have issues of constipation, magnesium is a key mineral required for proper thyroid function. Magnesium aids in the absorption of iodine, improves thyroid hormone production, and improves circulation.

If you do not suffer from constipation, compounded magnesium glycinate is the best choice.

Potassium

Hypothyroidism causes the body to lose potassium, which can cause body weakness, spasms, pain, and even IBS symptoms. When thyroid function is restored, potassium levels return.

Having both the serum and RBC lab tests done with your doctor will help you to know if your levels are either too high or too low.

Potassium helps to usher sodium into cells and can also help to relieve constipation. Supplementing with potassium is not necessary for many Hashimoto’s patients; yet some find it to be the key they were missing to feeling well. (source and source)

Which of these supplements do you take? Which have made a difference to your health, your energy levels, your lack of Hashi’s flares?

  • Renee Kohley

    I take everything but that first one – I have gone through a bottle of NAC before but after reading this I’d like to try that compound! Thanks! The mag/potassium addition took me from daily debilitating panic attacks to zero of them – it was truly life changing for me!

  • Megan Stevens

    Wonderful, Renee!! Thank you for sharing!

  • Thanks for your comprehensive research! I am very interested in thyroid health, personally and professionally. I am very interested to explore the liver pills, and will check out your link. I have friends in FLL for the next month. Maybe I’ll save the $$$ on International shipping! Here’s to our health!!

  • This is such helpful information! The best part is…these supplements are so fantastic even with a HEALTHY thyroid, so it’s good info all around!

  • Raia Torn

    Thanks for this list, Megan! So helpful! I’m suuuuper bad at taking supplements (forgetful), but I try to regularly-ish take magnesium and liver pills. I’m pretty sure I’m magnesium and vitamin A deficient, since everything I crave has magnesium and/or vitamin A in it.

  • Great list! I take cod liver oil (Green Pasture) and magnesium, but some of these others are great ones as well!

  • linda spiker

    I never knew that potassium levels and the thyroid were connected…good to know since I am still on that dang water pill…

  • Megan Stevens

    Oh yes, sorry, Linda! I was on a water pill for years for dizziness…So many health mysteries to research. I’m sure you will find the next better thing when the time is right.

  • Megan Stevens

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Megan Stevens

    LOL, sounds like a good diagnostic tool! Do I sense chocolate is being implied? 😉 I can’t forget my supplements, because I don’t feel well without them, unless I’m in the Bahamas, and then I feel great. 😉

  • Megan Stevens

    Good point, Kelsey! Thanks.

  • Megan Stevens

    Yes, indeed. 🙂 Sorry they aren’t available in Canada!

  • Well.. I did contact the company and it looks like they do post to Canada.. it just costs $$$!

  • Raia Torn

    Haha. Of course! It’s my favorite super-food. :p I’ve recently been noticing a difference when I don’t take supplements, as well. I went through a month of taking tinctures for adrenal fatigue (I had it really badly), and now that I’ve been off for a while, I can feel it coming back. Time to add the tinctures back to my daily schedule (whatever that is…)!

  • Emily @ Recipes to Nourish

    Megan, I just LOVE your wellness and health posts so much. I always learn so much from you! This is going to be such a helpful resource for so many. I really love that you mention keeping things low stress, that makes so much sense.

  • Megan Stevens

    Thank you, Emily!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 I sure notice a difference in my own health with the stress issue! I love that more and more doctors see and educate their patients about the mind body connection. <3