Thyroid function issues will impact 10% of Americans in their lifetimes
More than one in 10 Americans — approximately 20 million in total — will develop a thyroid issue at some point in their lives, according to the American Thyroid Association (ATA). Additionally, conditions impacting this gland in the lower neck tend to occur more often in women than in men.
The ATA goes on to explain that if the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones it is called hypothyroidism, whereas if it produces too much, hyperthyroidism is diagnosed.
Though the causes behind thyroid dysfunction remain generally unknown and often last long-term, there are five supplements that science has shown can potentially help the body better regulate its function.
Vitamin B complex
In the early 1900s, numerous animal studies found that hypothyroidism and vitamin B deficiencies often go hand in hand. Yet, when vitamin B1 was administered via injection, this nutrient helped protect against the weight loss typically experienced with this particular thyroid condition.
More recent human studies continue to affirm how important vitamin B is for those who struggle with proper thyroid function. For instance, a 2008 study found that vitamin B12 deficiency is common in hypothyroid patients; however, when levels of this key nutrient were replenished, an improvement in symptoms was often experienced.
Because non-deficient patients in this study also responded to B12 administration, researchers suggested that a placebo effect could be at play, but other studies report similar findings, suggesting that vitamin B offers a positive effect.
Research reveals that vitamin D is another important vitamin for proper thyroid function, especially for those diagnosed with other medical conditions.
For example, one 2018 study published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine Research found that individuals with type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of developing thyroid issues if they are also deficient in vitamin D.
Research further supports that vitamin D supplementation can “significantly lower” the number of thyroglobulin antibodies (Tg-Ab) in the blood, antibodies that are known to rise with certain thyroid autoimmune conditions.
Zinc is critical to a variety of health-related functions, some of which include contributing to a stronger immune system, assisting with protein synthesis, and helping the body heal, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS). Though it can be found in foods such as oysters, red meat, poultry and fortified cereals, taking zinc as a supplement has also provided scientifically proven benefits for those with thyroid issues.
The Journal of the American College of Nutrition published one such study in 2015. It involved 68 females with hypothyroidism and, while some participants received zinc-containing supplements, others received placebos. Those in the zinc groups experienced the greatest amount of change in thyroid function.
The 2015 study just referenced also found that the most notable thyroid-related effects were observed when selenium was taken in combination with the zinc, even more so than when zinc was taken alone.
Healthline shares that additional benefits of taking selenium include reduced risk of breast, lung, colon and prostate cancers, as well as enhanced protection against heart disease and mental decline. Medical News Today adds that this nutrient also plays a positive role in the prevention of HIV-related AIDS progression, reduces the risk of miscarriage, and may protect against the development of asthma.
Thus, selenium offers health benefits above and beyond those associated solely with proper thyroid function.
While most people connect iodine with its presence in iodized salt, this nutrient can also be found in a wide variety of foods according to the ODS, some of which include fish, shrimp, seaweed, dairy products, and some fruits and vegetables.
This is good news since the Mayo Clinic states that not getting enough of this nutrient can lead to hypothyroidism. Although this isn’t normally an issue in the United States, thanks in large part to iodized salt, research has found that eating a vegan diet may not supply enough iodine to support healthy bodily functions.
Thyroid supplement tips
Because everyone is different, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that all individuals check with their doctor or other health care provider before taking any kind of dietary supplement. This will reduce the risk of taking an otherwise healthy nutrient that can have the opposite effect in certain situations and medical conditions.
Checking with health care professionals prior to starting a supplemental regimen can also reduce the likelihood that the supplement will interact with any other drugs the individual may be taking, whether prescription or over-the-counter. For instance, vitamin D can interact with the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor and high blood pressure medications like Cardizem and Tiazac, among others.
It’s also important not to exceed the recommended dosage of any supplement taken unless a health care professional suggests otherwise.