14 Essential Nutrients for Thyroid Health

If you are one of the millions already suffering from a thyroid disorder you can also be deficient in important nutrients.

This is true even if you are taking synthetic hormones. Medication can be beneficial for treating the thyroid, but without proper nutrition and correcting deficiencies the condition can worsen over time.

Below are the most common nutrient deficiencies that occur in thyroid disorders.

Fiber

Fiber is very important for those with thyroid issues. It is a great nutrient for cardiovascular and digestive health as well as stabilizing blood sugars. Fiber is found in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, and legumes. Look for at least 3–4 grams per serving. You want to try to get 25 to 30 grams a day.

Protein

Protein is needed to make body cells, tissues, and organs. Protein has been shown to help with the healing process, weight loss, and satiety. Those with thyroid dysfunction also need to make sure they are getting enough protein at each meal.

The quality of the protein is important as well. If you are eating animal based proteins you want to make sure you are eating organic non-GMO grass-fed beef and lamb, anti-biotic free-range chicken and turkey, pasture raised organic eggs, or use a grass-fed protein powder. Plant based proteins that are good for your thyroid are raw nuts and seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, legumes, beans, gluten free grains like quinoa, and plant based protein powder like hemp powder.

Magnesium

This nutrient is integral to stay healthy especially when your thyroid is not functioning properly. Magnesium helps regulate muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure.

Magnesium is an important nutrient needed make protein, bone, and DNA. Food sources of magnesium include almonds, pumpkin seeds, Swiss chard, spinach, avocado, unprocessed chocolate (cacoa), green leafy vegetables, kefir, and fermented dairy products.

B-12

B12 or cobalamin is a vitamin that is needed for several body processes. It is essential for nerve and blood function. It also helps to make DNA in cells. Vitamin B12 also prevents megaloblastic anemia causes fatigue making people feel tired and weak.

B12 depends on stomach acid for absorption so deficiency can occur in those do not produce a lot of stomach acid. This is common in those with frequent heartburn, digestive issues, or pernicious anemia. The amount of stomach acid produced decreases with age so often older adults are also at risk for this deficiency.

B12 is found mostly in animal foods. You should consume high quality meats like grass fed organic beef, liver, and pasture raised eggs. Wild caught fish and free-range organic poultry also contain B12.

A lot of foods are also fortified with synthetic cyanocobalamin. This form of the vitamin has been shown to be poorly absorbed when compared to vitamins naturally occuring in foods. There are not a lot of plant based foods that contain B12, so if you are a vegetarian or vegan be sure to are supplementing an active form of B12.

You should get an annual blood test to check your B12 levels. If your B12 is below 400 you want to add more foods rich in B12 to your diet. If your B12 level does not improve after adding these foods to your diet you may want to look into getting a liquid supplement made of adenosylcobalamin or methylcobalalmin.

Copper

Copper is an essential trace mineral that is found in all body tissues. It works with iron to help create red blood cells and help increase iron absorption. Copper is also needed for maintenance of blood vessels, nerves, bones, and keeping a healthy the immune system. That is why it is essential for thyroid health.

Copper can be found in beans, nuts, dark leafy greens, and nutritional yeast. Organ meats like kidney and liver are also a good source of copper. If you eat these be sure they are organic and grass fed.

Vitamin E

This fat-soluble vitamin is good for thyroid health because is an antioxidant. This means it protects cells from being damaged due to food and environmental toxins. Vitamin E also improves immunity by fighting off bacteria and viruses. It is good for blood vessels and prevents clotting. Vitamin E is also a catalyst for cell functions so it is needed for body processes.

Vitamin E is naturally found in green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli. It is also in nuts like almonds and sunflower seeds.

Iron

This mineral is integral to growth and development. It is used to make hemoglobin a protein in red blood cells. Iron is needed to take oxygen from the lungs and deliver it to cells all over the body. Iron is also needed to make the protein myoglobin which brings oxygen to the muscles. Iron is integral to the thyroid because it helps makes hormones.

Foods that provide iron come in two forms: heme and nonheme iron. Heme iron consists of animal sources including low mercury wild seafood, grass fed organ meats, and free-range poultry. Nonheme iron consists of plant sources. This includes nuts, white beans, pumpkin seeds, lentils, spinach and peas. The thing to note about plant sources of iron is that they are better absorbed when eaten with meat, poultry, seafood, and foods that contain vitamin C like citrus fruits, tomatoes, and broccoli. Meat, seafood, and poultry contain both heme and nonheme iron. Some foods are fortified with iron but these synthetic vitamins may not be absorbed as well as from food sources.

Iron is an integral nutrient for thyroid health. If you do not get enough of this nutrient deficiency will set in and you can develop anemia. This will lead to fatigue, digestive issues, poor memory and concentration as well as low immunity.

Zinc

Zinc is a mineral found in many body cells. It is important for thyroid function due to its healing and immunity properties. Zinc is needed to make body proteins, and DNA for cells. Zinc is important for growth and development especially during pregnancy, infancy, and childhood. People with digestive issues like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) absorb less zinc than a healthy individual. Beans and grains also have proteins that keep zinc from being fully absorbed so vegetarians need to make sure they have 50 percent more zinc than recommended. Alcohol consumption also decreases the intestinal absorption of zinc and can be lost through the urine.

Zinc is found in a variety of foods. Good sources include red meat, poultry, seafood such as oysters, crab, and lobster. Some zinc is found in nuts.

Iodine

This mineral is integral for thyroid hormone production. The hormones control metabolism, bone formation, and brain development during pregnancy and infancy. Everyone needs iodine especially infants and during pregnancy.

The best food sources are seaweed or dried kelp, white cod, plain full fat grass fed yogurt, grass fed organic eggs, pole line caught tuna fish, green peas, and bananas. You can also get iodine naturally eating vegetables grown in soils rich in iodine.

Riboflavin (B2)

Riboflavin is a B vitamin. B vitamins are important cell growth and development. B2 is needed help digest your food into energy.

Grass fed organ meats like kidney and liver, pasture raised eggs, free-range lean meats, and green vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, and spinach, and fermented dairy. Foods are also fortified with riboflavin. These synthetic vitamins may not absorb as well as those naturally occurring vitamins so I always recommend to eat foods rich in this vitamin to get the best source.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C known as ascorbic acid is a water-soluble vitamin that is good for the thyroid. Its antioxidant properties make it protect cells from external environmental damage. Vitamin C helps to make collagen which is a protein to help wounds heal. The vitamin also improves immune function and helps plant-based iron food to be better absorbed.

Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit, and lemons. Red peppers, broccoli, strawberries, cantaloupe, and tomatoes are also high in vitamin C. As with other nutrients some foods are fortified with vitamin C. To get the best absorption possible it is best to foods with naturally occurring vitamin C and stay away from synthetic vitamins.

Cooking may also alter the content of vitamin C. Steaming may cause vitamin losses and the best way to get vitamin C is to eat foods raw.

Selenium

Selenium is a trace element that is essential for thyroid health. Humans need selenium for thyroid hormone production as well as reproduction, making new DNA, strong immunity, and as an antioxidant.

Selenium is available in many foods and fortified in others. A rich source of selenium is seafoods and organ meats. Other foods that have selenium are grass fed muscle meats, grass fed eggs, free-range poultry, wild low mercury fish, and dairy products like kefir.

Plant foods also contain selenium but the amount depends on how much selenium is in the soil and taken up by the plant.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is needed for many body processes such as muscle and nerve function as well as healthy immunity. It is also important for maintaining strong bones and thyroid health. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium from food and supplements. Vitamin D is found in cells throughout the body.

Vitamin D naturally occurs in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel. There are also small amounts in beef, liver, and egg yolks. Mushrooms exposed to ultraviolet light have some vitamin D. Dairy products, juice, and breakfast cereals are fortified with vitamin D, however these have synthetic vitamins and may not be absorbed as well as vitamins that occur naturally in foods.

Vitamin D can also be obtained from the sun. This is the best way to get vitamin D. You want to go out early in the morning and get 10 minutes of direct sunlight.

If you have vitamin D levels lower than 60–70 you should add vitamin D rich foods to your diet. This does not include fortified foods. These foods often have synthetic vitamins and may not be absorbed well.

If you have a history of skin cancer you want to talk to your doctor before getting any sunlight exposure.

If you do not eat foods with vitamin D or get enough sunlight you may want to supplement liquid (cholecalciferol) D3 drops to maintain your vitamin D levels.

Vitamin A 

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is important for vision, immunity, reproduction, and thyroid health. This vitamin is good for healthy organs like the lungs and kidneys.

This vitamin comes in two types: preformed vitamin A that is found in meat, poultry, fish, and dairy. Provitamin A consist of plant-based products such as fruits, vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that is found in vitamin A. This improves thyroid health by preventing cell damage.

Vitamin A is found in organ meats like beef and liver, salmon, leafy green vegetables, green, orange, and yellow vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, and squash. Fruits like cantaloupe and mangos also have vitamin A. Like other vitamins foods fortified or enriched with synthetic vitamin A is not absorbed as well as naturally occurring vitamins.

If you are not getting enough nutrients you want to add the above foods to your diet. One way of doing this is to increase your intake of vegetables. The more colorful veggies you can add to your diet the more nutrients you will attain.

Fermented Foods Are Also Helpful

Aside from the nutrients listed above you can also help your thyroid by adding fermented foods to your diet.

Probiotics are also important to incorporate into the diet when you have a thyroid condition. You can take an oral probiotic or eat fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, pickled ginger, fermented cucumbers, coconut yogurt, kombucha, and water kefir. You can make your own fermented foods or purchase a brand that is free of sugars and preservatives.

You may want to consult with your doctor about any medical interactions before going on a probiotic.

Have questions about your thyroid health? Contact me HERE!

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