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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? (Here’s Part 2 of this article.)
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)
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.
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 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.)
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.
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)