If suffering from thyroid disease, how can we bring our bodies back to balance and energy?
Especially when the thyroid is the metabolic and hormone control center for the entire body?
Most importantly, treatments must be individualized. Patients have unique health histories — not to mention, thyroid conditions are complex. A practitioner must test and evaluate a patient to provide them with the best treatment.
That said, there are general principles and supplements that benefit the thyroid and immune system of most patients. Discuss these with your practitioner, and conduct your own research.
Supporting Normal Thyroid Function
Alan L. Rubin, MD, author of Thyroid for Dummies, says, “Every organ in your body requires thyroid hormone to function normally. When that hormone is lacking, the organs tend to do less of their usual functions” (source).
It's very important to support the thyroid. In doing this, you support the entire body. So, how do we accomplish this?
In the case of Hashimoto's — an autoimmune thyroid disease — we must address the immune system to start to heal the thyroid. According to functional medical practitioner Chris Kresser, we can do this in 3 ways:
- Reduce inflammation
- Remove triggers
- Enhance T cell function (source).
Heavy metals can also trigger Hashimoto’s, causing an overactive immune response. Ask your doctor about being tested for heavy metal antibodies.
Additionally, both pregnancy and perimenopause cause surges in estrogen, and may trigger an auto-immune response. Check out this post for more information about balancing estrogen during perimenopause.
Top 5 Supplements For Hashimoto's
Now let's look at the top 5 supplements for Hashimoto's, and the complex network that affects thyroid health.
#1 — Saccharomyces boulardii
Each probiotic strain carries out a unique role in the body. So, in choosing a probiotic supplement, it is often due to the role it will play in our physiology and wellness process.
Such is the case with Saccharomyces boulardii — a soil-based probiotic recommended for improved thyroid function. (Prescript-Assist is another great soil-based probiotic-prebiotic supplement for thyroid support.)
Saccharomyces boulardii does not colonize the gut wall. Instead, it passes through the gastrointestinal tract, protecting against pathogens and infections such as H. pylori, which has been linked to Hashimoto's.
This probiotic also reduces inflammation, directs T cells to support thyroid function, and aids gut conversion of T4 to T3. 20% of the body's T4 to T3 conversion occurs in the gut.
Finally, Saccharomyces boulardii is affordable.
#2 — Iodine With Selenium
Did you know that iodine deficiency is the leading cause of hypothyroidism globally? That's because iodine is required to create thyroid hormone.
Selenium, on the other hand, helps balance the body's iodine levels. (Read about foods rich in iodine and selenium in this post, 7 Foods That Nourish Your Thyroid.)
Most patients who cannot tolerate iodine simply have a selenium deficiency. It is important to note, however, that a minority of patients can't tolerate iodine even with selenium supplementation. Read more about iodine dosing, the recommended 24-hour urine loading test to determine iodine levels, and which labs do the test here.
In addition to balancing iodine, selenium assists the liver with T4 to T3 conversion and degrades reverse T3. It also decreases autoimmunity and inflammation.
I supplement with selenium by taking a full dropper of high-quality liquid soil mineral, 3 times daily in water or tea. For those who prefer selenium in supplement form, most practitioners recommend 200 to 400 mcg daily (source).
#3 — Vitamin D3 + K2
Low Vitamin D3 levels are not only associated with hypothyroidism — they worsen the condition and other auto-immune diseases in general (source).
What does Vitamin D3 do? It helps with T cell regulation and is also anti-inflammatory. And yet, it needs Vitamins A and K2 present as well, in order to support calcium regulation and prevent D3 toxicity (source).
My family uses this supplement, with K2 present.
Practitioners often prescribe 5,000 to 10,000 IU daily for patients with a deficiency. Ask your doctor to check your levels to determine short and long-term dosage, aiming for a range of around 40 to 50 ng/ml (source).
#4 — Zinc
Zinc helps convert T4 to T3 too, and its absence is associated with poor T3 conversion. It's also anti-inflammatory, reduces antibodies, and boosts the immune system.
30 to 60 mg daily is recommended. If taking the larger dose, take half with breakfast and half with dinner.
#5 — B Vitamins
First, let's talk about Vitamin B6.
2 metabolic pathways in the liver affect assimilation of thyroid hormones. Both Vitamin B6 and magnesium help to support these liver functions and detoxification.
Normal and healthy brain function also relies upon Vitamin B6. Because leaky gut is often associated with thyroid conditions, and the gut-brain axis is well known, many who suffer from thyroid conditions also notice “foggy brain” symptoms.
Most, if not all, thyroid patients also suffer from adrenal fatigue. Holistic practitioners often prescribe an adrenal supplement that includes Vitamin B6, like this one — which helps to restore normal cortisol and energy levels, as well as improving sleep. Improved sleep means reduced inflammation.
Hypothyroid patients are also notoriously low in Vitamin B12 — up to 40% according to one study! This often results from low stomach acid, which in turn means poor nutrient absorption. In this video, I discuss the importance of choosing Betaine HCl or digestive bitters to amend stomach pH.
Vitamin B12 supplementation also often improves energy levels and mental cognition.
Which B vitamin is right for you?
Talk to your practitioner. Some patients need only supplement with B6 or B12. Others receive B6 in their adrenal support, and B12 from a separate sublingual supplement or even injections.
I personally benefit from a B complex vitamin for overall support of detoxification pathways, improved energy, and mental function.
I'm also currently exploring the use of Vitamin B12, and am amazed at the level of energy and restoration it's given me! Check out this excellent post on the topic, citing one doctor's use of this supplement and the improvement he saw in 60 to 70% of his patients.
Are Any Other Supplements Worth Exploring?
Yes! At least 10 other supplements to support the thyroid are worth considering for certain individuals. Read about those supplements here. I discuss the role of glutathione, fatty acids, Vitamin A, iron, and several others.
Chris Kresser warns that not all supplements that affect the thyroid will benefit the thyroid.
Unless recommended by an immunology specialist specifically for your body, Kresser advises those of us with thyroid disorders to avoid green tea, Gotu Kola, echinacea, and astragalus (source).
Have you experienced thyroid healing through supplements? Which ones made a difference?
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You are responsible for your own health and for the use of any remedies, treatments, or medications you use at home.
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