Located above your windpipe is a small gland that affects virtually every organ system in your body. This includes your brain, heart, intestines, and the quality of your skin. Your thyroid gland, and the hormone it produces, is the energy source that runs your body. When your thyroid gland is compromised, your metabolism slows, you feel fatigued and cold, your concentration is off, your hair thins, you gain weight, and your skin becomes dry. It may be a small gland, but when it does not get the nutrients it needs, there can be powerful repercussions.
Medical research has confirmed that iodine is responsible for the formation of the thyroid hormones T1, T2, T3, and T4. Without sufficient iodine, the thyroid can produce only limited amounts of these hormones. The best way to support your thyroid is to eat a balanced whole foods diet, one that includes iodine, which can be found in foods harvested from the sea: fish, shellfish, and sea salt. The best source of iodine, however, are sea vegetables like kelp, dulse, arame, and hijiki, to name a few. Earl Mindell recommends using kelp in his book, Vitamin Bible for the Twenty-First Century. He writes, “Kelp has a normalizing effect on the thyroid gland. In other words, thin people with thyroid trouble can gain weight by using kelp, and obese people can lose weight with it.”
An excess of iodine in one’s diet can be as detrimental as not getting enough iodine, cautions Anne Marie Colbin, author of Food and Healing. “Considering that we are already ingesting large qualities of this mineral because of its presence in fertilizers and table salt, the situation (your iodine level) definitely bears watching.”
Your thyroid gland also requires the amino acid tyrosine, which is found in:
Other nutrients needed by the thyroid include:
Selenium: whole grains, tuna, herring, wheat germ, sesame seeds, Brazil nuts
Zinc: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, seafood, organ meats, eggs, beans, whole grains, mushrooms, soybeans, wheat germ
Copper: beets, molasses, beans, whole grains, nuts, seafood, raisins
Manganese: nuts, seeds, whole grains, seaweed, leafy greens, legumes, egg yolk, pineapples
B vitamins: shellfish, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, cheese
Vitamins A: carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, dark leafy greens, eggs, yogurt, kefir, fish oils
Vitamin C: berries, fruit, green vegetables, broccoli, tomatoes
Vitamin D: salmon, fatty fish, eggs, sunshine, fish oils
Vitamin E: nuts, seeds, eggs, organ meats, whole grains, wheat germ, molasses, sweet potatoes, leafy greens
Be sure to include the omega-3 essential fatty acids in your diet in the form of flax and/or fish oils. Eating sufficient protein with each meal will help improve and normalize your metabolism, and this can aid in normalizing your thyroid function. It is important to note that protein is needed to transport thyroid hormone through the bloodstream to all your tissues.
- The overabundance of polyunsaturated oils in the standard American diet can interfere with thyroid function.
- Unsaturated oils block thyroid secretion and can inhibit thyroid hormones’ movement through the circulatory system.
- Fluoride found in toothpaste and city water can leech iodine from the body.
- The heavy metal mercury can displace selenium, a nutrient necessary for the critical conversion of thyroid hormone T4 to T3.
It may seem strange that one little gland can have such an effect on your entire body’s health. But if you’re feeling sluggish, you can’t concentrate, and you’re putting on weight for seemingly no reason, try taking better care of your thyroid. You might be surprised by the results.
Originally published on Care2