The thyroid is often overlooked for how important it is in regards to how well our body systems function. When your thyroid isn’t working well, it can throw off your metabolism, digestion, sex drive, mood, and immune system. Symptoms of thyroid disorders are often misdiagnosed as “signs of aging.” Underlying thyroid problems don’t show up on typical lab work that your conventional doctor runs, as a result many thyroid conditions go undiagnosed.
Read more about how a functional wellness practitioner can help address thyroid disorders here:At our clinic we are able to run more extensive lab work to get the full picture of how your thyroid is working. One factor that isn’t considered enough is possible nutrient deficiencies. If you are missing key nutrients that your body needs to make these hormones.
As a dietitian, I believe that food can be used as medicine to support many health conditions and thyroid function can certainly benefit from the right diet. I recommend living a natural healthy lifestyle that supports optimal thyroid hormone health. Below is a guide of specific nutrients that are essential for every aspect of thyroid function.
Thyroid-stimulating Hormone (TSH)
TSH aka thyroid-stimulating hormone is released from your pituitary gland to communicate with your thyroid. A high TSH means that your thyroid is being told to work harder by your brain. To have adequate levels of TSH, include the following nutrients and food in your diet:
- Protein – you should be familiar with this macronutrient and making sure you consume enough on a daily basis. Our favorite sources of protein are wild-caught fish, grass-fed beef, organic chicken and bone broth! Eggs, beans, and peas are great for those who don’t consume meat.
- Vitamin B12 – this vitamin is best to get from animal sources such as grass-fed red meat or liver and other organ meats.
- Magnesium – this is found in dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale as well as nuts and seeds. A magnesium deficiency can also cause symptoms like these.
- Zinc – shellfish like oysters and mussels are high in zinc, grass-fed beef is also a good option. Nuts and seeds are good plant-based options.
Thyroid hormone: T4
T4 is considered the inactive form and is converted to T3, the active usable form.
- Iodine – iodine is needed to make T4. Supplementing with iodine can be tricky and only done under the supervision of a healthcare professional. However we recommend eating foods high in iodine such as sea vegetables like kelp.
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) – good sources are grass fed liver and lamb. Mushrooms and greens are good plant sources.
- Vitamin C – to make T4, we need iodine, but it also requires both vitamin B2 and vitamin C. Good sources are oranges and red peppers!
Thyroid hormone: T3
This is the active thyroid hormone that our body needs to function.
- Selenium – the conversion from T4 to T3 can’t happen without selenium. The best sources of selenium are Brazil nuts!
Thyroid Receptor Site
For your hormones to work properly, you need to have healthy receptor sites. Think of this as a lock and key, the receptor site has to work for your hormones to do their job.
- Vitamin A – Low levels of vitamin A and D can stop T3 from becoming active. Grass fed liver and tun are highest sources of true vitamin A (only found in animal meat.) Many people think of orange vegetables as good sources of vitamin A, however they are actually a good source of beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A.)
- Vitamin D – Most people who come in to see us are deficient in vitamin D! Our bodies need sufficient vitamin D which is responsible for over 200 genetic pathways. Along with getting enough sunshine, eat vitamin D-rich foods such as salmon, beef liver, or egg yolks!
Want to find out exactly how your thyroid is functioning? Wouldn’t it be easier to know exactly what you are deficient in instead of guessing? Working with a functional wellness practitioner can help you to get to the bottom of things and identify the root issue to your symptoms. Addressing these root causes is essential for optimal health.
If you want to learn more about the state of your health, please check out our Free Initial Consult. We offer in person as well as phone and webcam consults for people across the globe.