Thyroid conditions, including hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and thyroid cancer, are common. For example, up to 7% of the U.S. population has hypothyroidism, a condition in which your thyroid doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones.
Depending on the type of disease, thyroid conditions are typically treated with medications like thyroid hormone replacement, surgery, and other procedures, such as radiation therapy for thyroid cancer.
In addition to conventional treatments for thyroid conditions, research shows that dietary interventions, including supplements, may help treat certain thyroid diseases.
This article explains how supplements may help certain people with thyroid-related health conditions.
Due to the prevalence of thyroid conditions, many supplement companies have started making supplements that are designed to “support thyroid health.”
Before addressing why thyroid-specific supplements, it’s important to explain what nutrients the thyroid needs for optimal functioning.
Here are some of the most important nutrients for thyroid health:
Selenium. Selenium, a mineral needed for thyroid hormone production, helps protect the thyroid from damage caused by oxidative stress. The thyroid contains high amounts of selenium, and a deficiency can lead to thyroid dysfunction.
Iodine. Iodine is critical for thyroid function. In fact, currently, the only known role of iodine is to support thyroid hormone production. Triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) are thyroid hormones that contain iodine. Iodine deficiency causes thyroid disease.
Zinc. The mineral zinc is required for thyroid hormone production. An optimal concentration of zinc is needed for healthy levels of T3, T4, and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH).
Iron. The thyroid needs iron to convert T4 into T3, the active form of thyroid hormone. Iron deficiency is associated with thyroid dysfunction.
Other nutrients, including B vitamins and vitamins A and E, are also needed for optimal thyroid function. Being deficient in one or more nutrients can negatively affect thyroid health and increase your risk of thyroid disease.
For most people, following a nutrient-dense diet rich in whole foods is enough to maintain optimal thyroid function.
However, certain populations may need to supplement their diet with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to maintain overall health, including the health of the thyroid.