By Michael A. Smith, MDThyroid 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
Iodine is Thyroid’s Key MineralYour 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
Two Lesser Known Thyroid Minerals: Selenium & IronSelenium 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)
Rhodiola Stops Stress from Diminishing Thyroid FunctionBelieve 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 TurnHave 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.
- Lancet. 2008 Jul 12;372(9633):88.
- Biochimie. 1999 May;81(5):527-33.
- Thyroid. 2002 Oct;12(10):867-78.
- Phytomedicine. 2009 Jun;16(6-7):617-22.
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