Updated: Mar 4, 2022
By Leigh Carroll RN, RHM Gynecology
While supplementation can be helpful in some cases, a food-first approach to supporting your health, specifically your thyroid function, is always preferred. Nature provides us with food in its most perfect form, which means our bodies can absorb and utilize these nutrients most efficiently.
When it comes to your thyroid health, there are several nutrients that are important to ensure adequate consumption for optimal thyroid function, whether you have been diagnosed with a thyroid condition or are just interested in enhancing your health. Below is a list of five foods that contain high levels of the most important nutrients for thyroid function.
Brazil nuts are the highest food source of selenium. Selenium supports the production of thyroid hormones and the conversion of T4 hormones to active T3 hormones. Selenium also serves as a cofactor used to create glutathione, a powerful antioxidant in the body. Glutathione can be helpful in reducing inflammation, which can improve symptoms in individuals with autoimmune thyroid disease, also known as Hashimoto’s, as it can reduce the production of thyroid antibodies. In addition, consuming adequate selenium is also helpful for reducing risk of pregnancy and postpartum thyroiditis. About 6-7 Brazil nuts contain 544mcg of selenium. The RDA (recommended daily allowance) for adult women is 55mcg. The RDA increases in pregnancy to 60mcg and 70 mcg in women who are lactating.
Oysters are extremely high in zinc, which is a mineral that plays an important role in regulating the immune system. In addition, zinc is involved in the conversion of T4 hormones to active T3 hormones. Approximately 3 oz of oysters contain 74 mg of zinc. The RDA for adult women, pregnancy and lactation is 8mg, 11mg, and 12 mg, respectively.
Seaweed is an amazing source of iodine. Iodine works alongside selenium to produce the thyroid hormones. It is also an extremely important mineral in pregnancy as iodine ensures healthy baby brain development. About 10 grams of seaweed contains 232 mcg of iodine. The RDA for adult women, pregnancy and lactation is 150 mcg, 220 mcg and 290mcg, respectively.
Looking for a great after dinner treat that your thyroid (and blood sugar levels) will love? Look no further than Brazil nuts covered in dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is a great source of iron. Studies have shown that iron deficiency can contribute to the development of hypothyroidism. Iron is important for the production of red blood cells and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). Approximately 3 oz. contains 7mg of iron. The RDA for iron in adult women is 18mg and 9mg in women who are lactating. That amount increases in pregnancy to 27mg.
Not only is cold water fatty fish, such as salmon, an amazing source of omega-3’s (hello inflammation reduction!), it is also high in vitamin D. Ensuring adequate intake of vitamin D may help to prevent, improve or reverse Hashimoto’s. A mere 3 oz. of wild Alaskan salmon contains 570 IU of vitamin D. The RDA for vitamin D in adult women, pregnancy and lactation is 600 IU.
Adrenal Thyroid Revolution by Aviva Room, M.D.