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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, which together comprise a complete look at the key supplements recommended by leading functional practitioners who specialize in thyroid disorders.
A comprehensive guide to thyroid supplements
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 (or 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 is the one I found after researching the effectiveness of glutathione taken orally. Glutathione also helps to provide energy and mental clarity and 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.
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. This may contribute to 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)
Zinc aids in the conversion of T4 to T3, and its absence has been linked with poor T3 conversion. Zinc is anti-inflammatory, reduces antibodies and boosts the immune system.
30 mg is the recommended daily dosage.
Hypothyroid patients are also often low in Vitamin B12. (source) Low B12 can cause low stomach acid, which leads to poor nutrient absorption.
Vitamin B12 supplementation often improves energy levels and mental cognition.
Personally, I give myself weekly injections of B12, which my doctor taught me how to do. Ask your doctor if sublingual supplements (Methylcobalamin) or injections are best for your body.
Additionally, I take:
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
- Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)
- Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
- Vitamin B9 (Folate)
Vitamin D3 + K2
Low Vitamin D3 levels are associated with hypothyroidism. But they can also worsen the condition. (source)
Vitamin D3 helps to regulate T cells and is anti-inflammatory. D3 requires the co-factor K2 to support calcium regulation and prevent D3 toxicity. (source)
Here’s one supplement to consider.
Aiming for a range of around 40 to 50 ng/ml, check with your doctor to determine both short and long-term dosage. (source)
Finally, Saccharomyces boulardii.
Saccharomyces boulardii is a a soil-based probiotic that protects against pathogens, as well as infections such as H. pylori, which can be causal to Hashimoto’s.
Saccharomyces boulardii has also been linked to these benefits:
- improves thyroid function
- directs T cells to support thyroid function
- reduces inflammation
- aids gut conversion of T4 to T3
You can find quality affordable Saccharomyces boulardii here.