Thyroid health is affected by the food you eat. One of the most modifiable risk factors for hypothyroidism comes down to your dietary intake of essential nutrients, along with a healthy gut microbiome (to be able to digest those nutrients in the first place).
Foods for Thyroid Health
|Iodine||Sea vegetables, dairy products, iodized salt|
|Selenium||Ocean fish, Brazil nuts, ham|
|Iron||Oysters, clams, liver, venison, beef|
|Zinc||Oyster, liver, crab, lobster, beef|
|B12||Clam, liver, oyster, mackerel, sardine|
|B2||Liver, mushrooms, seaweed, spinach|
|Vitamin C||Red pepper, kiwi, broccoli, citrus|
|Vitamin A||Organ meats, CLO, seafood, grass-fed dairy|
|Vitamin D||CLO, cold-water fatty fish, UV exposure|
|Magnesium||Clams, Swiss chard, spinach, beet greens, kelp|
Unfortunately, our modern-day, industrialized diets of the 21st century strip our body void of essentials necessary to for thyroid health. Even more, if you aren’t digesting your nutrients in the first place, your body (and thyroid) run into more problems with underlying pathologies, such as bacterial overgrowth, yeast infections, and dysbiosis (imbalances in “good” and “bad” bacteria) impairing nutrient absorption and thyroid function as well.
The following is a list of necessary nutrients required for healthy thyroid function–as well as caution to not go overboard on them either (since toxicity of these nutrients can also inhibit thyroid function).
Gut Healing Nutrients
Fermented foods (sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, yogurt, pickled veggies), prebiotic foods (cooked & cooled potatoes/sweet potatoes, cooked & cooled white rice, green plantains), Supplements: soil-based probiotics, partially hydrolyzed guar gum (prebiotic), short-chain fatty acids (butyrate)
Why It’s Important: Our gut health impacts thyroid hormone production.
Amount: 1-2 fermented foods (condiment sized serving)/daily, 1-2 starchy tubers/prebiotic foods; Supplements: 1 probiotic in the morning & evening, ½-1 tsp. Prebiotic fiber, 1 short-chain fatty acid capsule with meals
Sea vegetables (kelp flakes, kelp, wakame, hijike, arame, nori, etc.), dairy products, cod, iodized salt
Why It’s Important: Required for reproduction and growth, and it’s only known function is the synthesis of thyroid hormone; Can be helpful if TSH markers are “off”;
Amount: Consume food sources in small-moderate doses (kelp flakes 3-4 times per week, cod 1-2 times per week, iodized salt occasionally, etc.); If deficient (according to a hair or urine test), consider supplementing with 100 mcg/day and increase up to 1000 mcg if deficiency is severe for 30-90 days, then re-test; Note: If you have Hashimoto’s, iodine typically will often cause “flares” if you are deficient in selenium too (consider taking with selenium)
Ocean fish, Brazil nuts, ham
Why It’s Important: Selenium is essential for the conversion of T4 to T3; Studies also show benefits of selenium supplementation in treating autoimmune thyroid conditions to reduce inflammation (reducing inflammation may limit damage to thyroid tissue);
Amount: The best strategy is to first ensure adequate selenium intake through the diet. As little as 2 Brazil nuts each week supply you with 500% of the RDA—four times the recommended amount for the day. Just eating a couple Brazil nuts two to three times per week is all you need. If supplementing, first use testing for selenium levels at baseline to determine whether selenium supplementation is needed (The normal concentration in adult human blood serum is 70 to 150 ng/mL).
Oysters, clams, liver, venison, beef
Why It’s Important: Iron deficiency reduces production of thyroid hormone; however, excess iron damages the hypothalamus, pituitary, and thyroid (Fact: people with hemochromatosis or iron overload are 80 times more likely to have hypothyroidism);
Amount: Eat foods with iron in them or use a liver capsule supplement (if organ meats are not preferred); Only supplement with iron if lab test levels indicate deficiency outside of these markers.
Serum Iron: 40-155 ug/dL
Men: 30-400 ng/mL
Pre-Menopausal Women: 15-150 ng/mL
Post Menopausal Women: 15-150 ng/mL
Transferrin Saturation: 15-55%
Men: 250-450 ug/dL
Pre-Menopausal Women: 250-450 ug/dL
Post Menopausal Women: 250-450 ug/dL
UIBC: 150-375 ug/dL
sTfR (soluble transferrin receptor): 12.3-27.3 nmol/L
Oysters, liver, crab, lobster, beef, pastured eggs (Note: spinach, beans and nuts also have zinc, but are not bio-available due to difficult-to-digest components)
Why it’s Important: Required for synthesis of TSH;
Amount: If deficient (outside of: 81–157 µg/dL), supplement with 30 mg for 8 weeks, then recheck levels
B12 & B2
B12: Clam, liver, oyster, mackerel, sardine; B2: Liver, mushrooms, seaweed, spinach
Why it’s Important: Required for synthesis of TSH
Amount: A methylated B-Vitamin complex is beneficial for those with thyroid health or energy issues.
Dark leafy greens, Dark chocolate, Almonds, Banana, Pumpkin seeds, Avocado, Halibut
Why it’s Important: Required for synthesis of TSH;
Amount: Consume 600-800 mg/day between foods and supplements; Supplementing with 300-400 mg/day of chelated magnesium such as Magnesium Glycinate can be helpful
Red pepper, kiwi, broccoli, citrus, brussels sprouts, kale
Why it’s Important: Boosts adrenal function to support hormone health and also leads to less suppressed T4 and T3 levels;
Amount: Supplement: 500-1000 mg/day if you have low T4 & T3 and high stress
Organ meats, cod liver oil, seafood, grass-fed dairy
Why it’s Important: Regulates thyroid hormone metabolism and inhibits elevated TSH;
Amount: Supplement: Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil, ½ tsp-1 tsp/day
Cod liver oil, cold-water fatty fish, pastured egg yolks, sun exposure, supplementation if necessary
Why it’s Important: Boosts immune function and suppresses autoimmune attack on the thyroid health; Deficiency is highly connected to Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism;
Amount: Check Vitamin D levels aiming for this reference range: 35–60 ng/mL; If deficient, supplementation may be warranted for 4 weeks with upwards of 5,000-10,000 IU (depending on severity), then recheck levels