Key Nutrients for Thyroid Health
The key nutrients for thyroid health are iodine and selenium. It is best to get both of these nutrients from food sources. Supplementing long term with these two is not recommended. Seaweeds are by far the highest source of iodine. Nori is not as high but consumed the most. Integrating some kelp, kombu, arame, wakame and other sea vegetables is an excellent way to optimize iodine. Cod is particularly high too.
Many people have removed iodized salt from their diet and there are very few other sources. Interestingly, dairy has iodine in it due to the cleaning agent used on the equipment that processes dairy. This has been shown to be a primary iodine source in today’s population.
Why not a multi-vitamin?
Selenium is found in most multi-vitamins and this is part of why I don’t recommend using these without taking breaks. Supplementing selenium can be dangerous long-term due to toxicity. There is a u-shaped curve to supplementing with these nutrients. You can get your levels checked and maintain adequate selenium through eating 2 Brazil nuts daily. Other sources are fish/shellfish, kidney, mushrooms, meat and poultry.
Food & Light Exposure
Adequate amounts of zinc, magnesium, vitamin A, C, D, B12 and B2 are also crucial for proper function. Magnesium glycinate is a good form and safe to supplement. Cod liver oil is a good way to get enough bioavailable vitamin A and D along with adequate sunlight exposure. omnivores will likely get enough B12 but it’s always good to check as health conditions related to low B12 can be debilitating.
Ensuring iron ranges are optimal is also important as this is often too low but also can be too high. I check a number of markers beyond hemoglobin and ferritin in order to get an accurate iron profile. Clams are highest in iron and magnesium. Zinc can be found in oysters, liver, crab, beef and lobster. Vitamin C is highest in red pepper, kiwi and citrus fruits.
Limiting Goitragens for Thyroid Health
Avoiding goitrogens will optimize thyroid health and iodine levels. The best practice is to simply limit raw goitrogens to a couple servings per week. Cooking these foods reduces the harm for example cooking yucca reduces goitrogens by 90%. Cooking kale reduces them by 33%. Many of these foods have high nutrient densities so we don’t want to remove them completely. Nitriles also have an effect on the thyroid. A great example of this is sauerkraut reduces nitriles but is cabbage which is a goitrogen. The benefits of raw sauerkraut outweighs the risk in this case and this is partially because nitriles are more of a concern than goitrogens.
As you can see there are some complexities but keeping it simple is key. Except for sauerkraut just steam or cook these foods these foods. The autoimmune protocol can also be of great benefit if you have a thyroid that is sluggish. I’ve seen many people recover fully from autoimmune conditions and this is excellent to prevent other autoimmune disorders from developing later. It also reduces the internal load of physiological stress which frees you up to enjoy life more!