Many companies have started to market supplements for thyroid health. Some people with thyroid disorders may be deficient in specific nutrients, and increasing their levels may be beneficial. However, taking supplements could also lead to serious health risks in people with thyroid disorders or healthy thyroids. A person should contact their doctor before taking any thyroid supplement.
More and more retailers are offering over-the-counter (OTC) supplements with labels declaring that they promote thyroid health, for example, providing energy or aiding weight loss.
According to a 2013 article, most of these claims have no scientific basis, and some of the products could contain ingredients that may be potentially harmful to people with certain thyroid conditions. In people with healthy thyroids, taking additional nutrients may raise their risk of thyroid complications.
Moreover, taking too many thyroid supplements can interfere with a person’s thyroid blood test results.
This article examines the pros and cons of taking thyroid supplements and the effect of specific nutrients on thyroid health. It will also explain which supplements may be beneficial for certain thyroid disorders.
According to the British Thyroid Foundation, no specific dietary supplements can help treat thyroid disorders. The best way to promote thyroid health is to follow a balanced diet that includes the correct levels of necessary nutrients.
However, taking additional nutrients in supplement form may help promote thyroid health in some people who find it challenging to follow a balanced diet, including:
- those following a restrictive diet
- people who are pregnant or breastfeeding
- anyone with a thyroid condition
- people with other underlying health conditions
A person must contact their doctor before taking any nutritional supplements. A doctor can help identify the correct dosage and determine whether the supplements may affect thyroid blood test results.
Consuming high amounts of some nutrients can adversely affect thyroid health, cause side effects, or have general health risks.
Learn more about thyroid hormones and levels here.
The following nutrients can affect thyroid health in a variety of ways:
People with a healthy thyroid must have proper levels of iodine in their bodies. The
Taking too much iodine in the form of supplements
Sources of iodine naturally available in food
- Greek yogurt
A person should avoid supplements and natural boosters that contain kelp. It could have adverse effects on thyroid function.
People with thyroid disease may not derive any health benefits from consuming kelp.
However, according to the
Dietary sources of selenium
- dairy products
The body requires zinc for thyroid function. Zinc plays a role in the synthesis and metabolism of thyroid hormones.
Good dietary sources of zinc include:
- red meat
- seafood, such as crab and lobsters
- fortified breakfast cereals
However, taking too much iron can
For example, iron tablets and multivitamins that contain iron may affect the body’s ability to absorb thyroxine. Some people with hypothyroidism, goiter, or thyroid cancer may take thyroxine as a medication. Therefore, some doctors recommend waiting a couple of hours after taking thyroxine before taking an iron supplement.
A person can incorporate iron in their diet by consuming the
- lean meat
- fortified breakfast cereals
- white beans
- kidney beans
A person can incorporate more vitamin D into their diet by consuming the following foods:
- fatty fish
- fish liver oils
- fortified foods, such as:
- orange juice
Researchers in a
However, they went on to say that more research is necessary to confirm any benefits of treating thyroid disorders with vitamin A.
Dietary sources of vitamin A
- beef liver
- green leafy vegetables
- dairy products
Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disorder that is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States. In this disease, antibodies attack the thyroid gland, which leads to it being unable to produce enough thyroid hormones.
The following supplements may promote healthy thyroid function in a person with Hashimoto’s disease:
- Selenium: A
2018 studyfound that giving 200 mcg of selenium supplements per day could decrease thyroid antibodies in people with Hashimoto’s. Side effects were also minimal.
- Myo-Inositol: This sugar aids thyroid function. A
2017 studyfound that giving people with Hashimoto’s 600 milligrams (mg) of Myo-Inositol and 83 mcg of selenium could promote thyroid health.
- Iron: People with Hashimoto’s disease are
more likelyto have iron deficiency, especially menstruating females.
Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes hyperthyroidism. If a doctor does not treat Graves’ disease, it can cause serious health problems with the heart, muscles, and bones and affect a fetus during pregnancy.
- Selenium: Selenium supplementation may
improvethe function of some thyroid medication and promote thyroid health in people with Graves’ disease. A person could speak with their doctor about starting a 6-month trial period of selenium.
- Vitamin D: People with Graves’ disease may be
more likelyto be vitamin D deficient, so supplementation or eating vitamin D-rich foods could help counter this. More research could help confirm other benefits of vitamin D in Graves’ disease.
- Vitamin B12: People with Graves’ disease may have a
higherrisk of becoming vitamin B12 deficient. It may be more difficult to notice symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency that thyroid dysfunction symptoms could cover. A person should discuss vitamin B12 supplements or dietary intake with their doctor.
The authors concluded that correcting iodine deficiency can make thyroid cancer subtypes less aggressive without affecting the overall risk for cancer.
Furthermore, they noted that the clinical usefulness of selenium and vitamin D supplementation is still uncertain.
People with a thyroid disorder must speak to a healthcare professional to check that supplements are safe for them to take. Some supplements can interact with a person’s existing medication or be unsafe to take before surgery or chemotherapy.
Thyroid disorders are complex health issues that require treatment from qualified health professionals. Taking supplements may benefit some people in some circumstances but may also cause symptoms to worsen or lead to other health risks.
Some supplements, such as vitamin D and selenium, may be beneficial for thyroid disorders, but currently, the research is inconclusive.
A person who wishes to take supplements to boost thyroid health must first contact their doctor to see if it is suitable.