How to Support Low Thyroid Naturally

By Michael A. Smith, MD

Thyroid hormone is like your metabolic throttle. When it’s functioning at a less-than-optimal level, all of your physiological functions begin to slow down. This results in you feeling weak, tired, and depressed.

If this sounds like you, the first thing you need to do is get yourself tested for hypothyroidism. When doing so, have your doctor check the following labs:

  • Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)
  • Total T4
  • Free T4
  • Free T3
Fortunately, you don’t have to wait for the test results to start helping yourself. As a matter of fact, you can get the following natural, low-thyroid supporting nutrients working for you right away.

Iodine is Thyroid’s Key Mineral

Your body needs iodine to make thyroid hormone. As of the late 1990s, many European countries were still affected by iodine deficiency. In 2007, the World Health Organization estimated that over 30% of the world’s population (2 billion people) had insufficient iodine intake as measured by urinary iodine excretion.1

Here in the U.S., we’ve been adding iodine to salt since the 1920s, which has helped to steer us clear of a mass iodine deficiency. However, in our opinion, the concept of eating lots of salt just to get your daily iodine is far from ideal.

With that in mind, we also feel that a dietary approach is best for correcting iodine deficiencies and maintaining optimal blood levels. Here’s a list of iodine-rich foods you can work into your diet to keep your levels healthy:

  • Kelp/Seaweeds — 200–400 micrograms/serving
  • Leafy Green Vegetables — 35 micrograms/serving
  • Grass-fed Beef — 25 micrograms/serving
  • Cottage Cheese — 25 micrograms/serving
  • Boiled Eggs — 15 micrograms/egg
Alternatively, if needed, you can also consider supplementing with a high-quality mineral formula that includes 1–2 mg of iodine.

Two Lesser Known Thyroid Minerals: Selenium & Iron

Selenium is second only to iodine in terms of thyroid support. The thyroid gland itself contains more selenium by weight than any other organ.2 Selenium is necessary for the conversion of T4 into T3, the more active form of thyroid hormone. Without selenium, there would be no T3 and your cells and tissues would begin to malfunction.

In addition to its role in producing T3, selenium is also a potent antioxidant that protects your thyroid cells from oxidative damage. Without optimal levels of selenium, iodine, as it’s incorporated into thyroid hormone, can actually damage the thyroid gland.3

The second of the lesser-known thyroid minerals is iron. An iron deficiency reduces the activity of the enzyme thyroid peroxidase, which is needed to make thyroid hormone.

Want to get more iron in your diet? Here’s a list of some iron-rich foods (all sources below provide about 1–2 mg per serving):

  • Grass-fed Beef
  • Boiled Eggs
  • Leafy Green Vegetables
  • Dried Fruits (prunes, raisins)
  • Oysters

Rhodiola Stops Stress from Diminishing Thyroid Function

Believe it or not, chronic stress actually diminishes thyroid function. For this reason, people under lots of stress may want to consider an adaptogenic herb supplement like Rhodiola.

Research using animal models shows that Rhodiola supports the adrenal gland and helps animals adapt to chronic stress.4 If you want to try it, look for a high-quality Rhodiola extract and aim for a daily dose somewhere in the 250–500 mg range.

Note: Rhodiola can be stimulating to some people. If you have never taken it before, start at the lower 250 mg dose and increase slowly over time.

Your Turn

Have you ever had your thyroid checked? If so, have you tried any of these nutrients for natural support? Please let us know in the comments.

References

  1. Lancet. 2008 Jul 12;372(9633):88.
  2. Biochimie. 1999 May;81(5):527-33.
  3. Thyroid. 2002 Oct;12(10):867-78.
  4. Phytomedicine. 2009 Jun;16(6-7):617-22.

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13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Plant based iodine and a natural source of trace minerals can have a big impact on thyroid function. I am a big believer in SEAWEED and although I enjoy eating different types with my meals, lately I have been using an amazing dietary supplement made from a blend of 12 marine seaweeds. It is pretty awesome. It is called Super Sea Veg by FarmaSea. Just wanted to share :)

Life Extension said...

Thanks for sharing the information!

beautiful mind said...

Thank you for sharing this information. I use L-tyrosine to support my thyroid function. I also take rhodiola on regular bases.

Anonymous said...

Do these same things apply to someone without a thyroid?

Life Extension said...

No, the suggestions are for people with thyroid glands. If you don't have a thyroid, you need prescription medication to replace thyroid hormones. Thanks for the comments.

Payam said...

How could you not mention brazil nuts as a source of selenium?

Life Extension said...

Hello Payam. There's no specific reason why we didn't mention Brazil nuts. We should have. Additional selenium-rich foods include: Sunflower seeds, tuna, chicken, organ meats, whole grains, and mushrooms.

Angie Strader said...

I have had hypothyroid symptoms for some time now - getting worse over the last couple of years. My OBGYN and GP did my routine blood tests and told me I am "normal for my age" (now 44 y.o.). I started doing my own research and found LE and took advantage of the mist recent blood test sale and then found a local doctor I was referred to by LE medical advisors. Low and behold after additional old-school testing the doctor found that I do indeed have hypothyroidism, nearly zero testosterone and active EBV! For the thyroid I started with iodine drops, magnesium 'Calm' beverage and selenium and then when I began to see some basal temp improvement I opted to add natural thyroid replacement, which I started 1 week ago. For the testosterone I immediately began sublingual testosterone supplementation and for the EBV I have done 2 rounds of intravenous vitamin C. All of this in the span on less than 1 month and I'm already feeling better. I tell everyone about my "normal" results and tell then to dig deeper and find a doctor who will help. Thank you LE!

Life Extension said...

Angie, thank you for telling us your story. We are happy that you feel better.

Paul Wakfer said...

I just want to mention that a low thyroid output can be healthy as long as one does not have the negative symptoms. People on CR have lower thyroid output, lower body temperature as a result and are expected to be longer lived. Personally my (and Kitty's) thyroid outputs have always been a little low and our basal body temperature is also low, but we do not have the negative symptoms of hypothyroid, so we have no desire to raise our measurements.

BTW we already take all the supplements and eat most of the foods which you recommend to raise thyroid output. Although I love the taste of brazil nuts, we don't eat them any more because they are very high in methionine which we try to keep as low as possible since several studies have shown that restricting methionine acts similar to CR (which we practice moderately).

Life Extension said...

Paul, thanks for the insight to CR and low thyroid benefits. It's very interesting. However, for this particular blog post, Dr. Mike was writing specifically to people suffering from negative symptoms of low thyroid.

SueMayOnline said...

I see this was posted some while ago, so I hope I can get some info....
For most of my life I have had (neg.) symptoms of hypothyroidism but keep being told I am in the "low end of normal range." So, nothing is done abt it.
All my life: low basal temp & being very cold is nearly constant; gain wt. like crazy (like I only need to look at food!) but c/n lose wt. very well--every pound is a big struggle; VERY dry skin & hair; low energy; depression.
Past: heavy menstrual bleeding (I'm now post-menstrual).
Recently: swollen ankles, difficulty remembering things.
I have fibromyalgia, so I'm not certain if my pain is or isn't related to the thyroid.
The real confusing thing for me? I was diagnosed hypothyroid by an iodine-uptake test as a teenager (blood test being borderline) & was on med for about a year, then rechecked & doc decided I didn't need the med anymore!?

gagan said...

Seaweed may be the new multivitamin
"sea veg", "seaveg"

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