Part 2: Treating Hypothyroidism, Important Nutrients

(Also see part 1 on Treating Hypothyroidism, here and my post on the Thyroid and Adrenals here.)

The body needs certain building blocks to produce and utilize thyroid hormone.  Sometimes hypothyroidism does not show up on blood tests because, while thyroid hormone is present at normal levels in the blood, some of these key nutrients to utilize it are missing.  The missing link may be in the process of converting thyroid hormone into its usable form, getting it into the cells, or activation within the cells.  The following are some of the important nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that the body uses to achieve proper thyroid function:

Iron:  In order to produce thyroid hormone, the body must first convert the amino acid phenylalanine into tyrosine.  Sufficient iron is required to make this conversion.

Iodine and manganese:  After the tyrosine reaches the thyroid gland, manganese and iodine are used to convert it into thyroxin (T4) This is what most doctors prescribe, in synthetic form, for patients with hypothyroidism.  Unfortunately it may not help if you are not able to convert T4 into T3, the form of thyroid hormone that enters the cells where it can do its job.  Please note that many believe that the US RDA for iodine is much too low, providing only one tenth of the necessary iodine at best.  I chose to use Lugol’s Iodine solution to supplement iodine.  Some people prefer kelp, but you need to make sure your source is of sufficient potency.

Zinc and Other Minerals:  Zinc must be present in sufficient quantity for the liver to convert T4 into T3.  A simple way to check for zinc deficiency is to try zinc lozenges.  If the lozenges taste bitter or metallic, you are probably not deficient in zinc.  Excess copper, often correlated with low levels of zinc,  interferes with the conversion of T4 to T3.  High blood calcium levels often show up concurrently with the excessive copper.  High blood calcium makes the cells less responsive to T3.  Please note that dietary intake and calcium vitamin pills rarely cause high blood calcium unless intake is extremely high over a period of time, or there is some other problem present. Selenium:  Inside the cell, selenium is needed to help thyroid hormone work.  Low selenium will cause thyroid hormone to become inactive.  The body also uses selenium to produce an enzyme that assists in converting T4 to T3.

Protein:  Extra protein may be helpful to give the thyroid the necessary amino acids to produce thyroid hormone. It is important to purchase supplements from a company that conducts independent tests for potency, purity, and clinical performance.  They should be able to prove that their product raises blood levels of the nutrient(s) provided.

Here are a few of my favorite supplements for thyroid function.

Lugol’s Iodine
For manganese and selenium, this quality multivitamin has more than most available on the market.

Note: This information does not constitute medical advice.
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1 Comment

  1. Sue Bolt said,

    August 14, 2009 at 10:12 am

    What a brilliant article. Neatly summarises the nutritional issues so that we can help ourselves to acheive a healthy thyroid function.

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