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Some patients who suffer from hypothyroidism decide to experiment with dietary supplements to ease their symptoms. In this article we explore seven crucial nutrients that help treat your underactive thyroid.

Besides taking medications, a lot of patients who suffer from hypothyroidism decide to experiment with dietary supplements to ease their symptoms. For many patients, the treatment isn't just about regulating thyroid hormone levels, but also about influencing the factors that contributed to the development of their disease.

Regular vitamin and mineral intake can help regulate a dysfunctional thyroid, but it definitely cannot replace a well-balanced nutrition. It's crucial to eat well-balanced meals and stay away from all forms of crash dieting. Before taking any supplements, discuss the options with your physician.

1. Vitamin A

When a person is deficient in vitamin A, their thyroid gland can grow bigger and reduce the absorption of iodine. The lack of this vitamin will limit the body's production of TSH. Vitamin A is much needed to convert total thyroxine to triiodothyronine.

People with hypothyroidism cannot effectively turn carotene to vitamin A, so eating foods rich in this vitamin won't do a lot unless it's followed by protein. If your meals are poor in protein, it is possible that you're lacking vitamin A as well.

Our bodies are able to produce Vitamin A from phytonutrients alpha and beta-carotene that are widely present in plants. They're known as provitamin A, of which you'll find lots in vegetables like: 

  • Squash
  • Sweet potato
  • Collards
  • Carrots
  • Turnip

Provitamin A is also present in fruits such as watermelon, cantaloupe, mango, and grapefruit, but not even remotely as much as it's present in the vegetables listed above. Although most foods rich in vitamin A are good for patients with hypothyroidism, you should stay away from kale because of its high iodine content, and it's a well-known fact that people with thyroid troubles have difficulties absorbing iodine.

2. Vitamin B complex

All vitamins from the vitamin B family are good for managing your thyroid gland, but vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, B3 (niacin), and B12 (cobalamin) are by far the best to control your hypothyroidism.

  • Vitamin B2 – The lack of riboflavin in the body of a person struggling with hypothyroidism will prevent thyroid and adrenal glands from secreting their hormones. It's important to regularly consume foods such as beef, pork, mushrooms, avocados, and almonds, as they're good sources of this vitamin. 
  • Vitamin B3 – Niacin is crucial in keeping everything in the body functioning well, including the thyroid gland. Even though vegetarian sources of Niacin can be highly beneficial for people with underactive thyroid, it's important to notice that many niacin-rich foods of animal origin such as sea fish or animal liver are rich in iodine which can be dangerous for people with thyroid troubles. Make sure to consume plenty of avocado, peanuts or brown rice, and avoid animal sources of B3.
  • Vitamin B12 should be an essential part of everyone's daily diet, including people with hyperthyroidism because its absence can lead to significant mental problems, inflammations of the bursa, as well as different types of neuralgia. Foods rich in B12 include most breakfast cereals, as well as most meats and seafood. Just make sure to avoid foods rich in iodine.

3. Vitamin D

The majority of people who suffer from hypothyroidism are deficient in vitamin D, and the lower your vitamin D levels, the more severe your symptoms are likely to be. This is why doctors recommend all patients to regularly screen for the possible lack of vitamin D and support daily supplementation with this important nutrient.

Good sources of vitamin D are orange juice and fortified dairy products. Make sure to supplement your diet with vitamin D as food sources are often not enough.

4. Vitamins C and E

Antioxidants are highly beneficial when it comes to prevention of hypothyroidism. Consuming enough vitamins C and E, as well as turmeric is able to notably increase triiodothyronine and thyroxine levels.

Vitamin C decreases oxidative stress from the thyroid gland. This important vitamin decreases the amount of free radicals and other toxins within the body.

Most nuts and seeds are rich in vitamin E, especially peanuts, almonds, and sunflower seeds.

5. Selenium

Selenium is a micronutrient closely related to hypothyroidism. Maintaining good levels of this mineral either through a healthy food or by supplementation is crucial in managing not only your hypothyroidism, but your health in general.

Some good food sources of selenium are sea fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines, as well as beef, lamb, pork, turkey, and chicken. Shiitake mushrooms that have become quite popular lately are also abundant in this micronutrient. For those of you who decide to take selenium supplements, it's important to be aware that the daily dose shouldn't be higher than 200 milligrams.

6. Zinc

Zinc is another crucial nutrient whose deficiency can lead to thyroid problems. It's much needed for the thyroid glad to work properly. 
On the contrary, you'll need effective thyroid hormones to absorb zinc well, so it's quite clear that hypothyroidism can make you zinc deficient. For instance, if your underactive thyroid-caused hair loss isn't improved by your thyroxine medication, it's possible that supplementing with zinc could fix this problem.

Some foods that are high in zinc include red meat and poultry, as well as legumes, nuts and seeds.

7. L-carnitine

Levothyroxine is a known aid in regulating levels of the thyroid hormone, but regardless, many patients still complain about exhaustion. Research conducted on people who went through thyroid hormone replacement has found that L-carnitine can battle fatigue, particularly in patients under the age of 50 who went through thyroid cancer.

Excellent sources of L-carnitine include cooked meat, especially steak, dairy products, and cooked vegetables such as asparagus.

Nutrients to stay away from if you have an underactive thyroid

Even though many foods are healthy on their own, if you combine them with your thyroid medications, they can make a mess in your body.

  • You shouldn't consume iodine supplements if you suffer from hypothyroidism. Some people use kelp or dulse as an addition to their diet, but their high iodine content can affect the production of the thyroid hormone. You should stay away from dietary sources of iodine as well, such as dairy and soy products, and eggs, among other foods.
  • It is also recommended to stay away from fiber supplements as they can affect your thyroid medications. Excessive consumption of dietary fiber can also affect the absorption of thyroid medications.

You should be careful when combining your drugs with supplements such as:

  • Calcium
  • Iron-rich foods and supplements
  • Magnesium and aluminum antacids
  • Medications regulating cholesterol levels including colestipod and cholestyramine
  • Sucralfate and a few other drugs for ulcer

If you suffer from underactive thyroid, stay away from cruciferous vegetables, saturated fatty cuts of red meat, all processed meats, as well as walnuts.

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