Dietary supplements for thyroid health can address underlying nutrient deficiencies, stress, and hormonal imbalances, all of which can be root causes of a thyroid disorder.
Approaching hypothyroidism with supplements, in addition to lifestyle changes, can often help people to avoid the need for medications in the future.
We’ll talk about diagnosing the different root causes of thyroid disorders later in this article. Or you can check out this post about diagnosing primary hypothyroidism. Spoiler: Our blood tests measure more than just TSH thyroid hormone levels to determine if you have a healthy thyroid.
Note: It’s critical not to confuse hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism describes an underactive thyroid. Hyperthyroidism is when your thyroid is overactive. Each condition features different symptoms, but both can be caused by different autoimmune issues.
In this article, we’ll clarify which condition each supplement is known to address. In some cases, it’s both!
Natural vs. Synthetic Treatments
There are both natural and synthetic options to balance the thyroid. We typically recommend natural thyroid supplements as part of an integrative approach to health, rather than starting with prescription medications.
The term “synthetic thyroid treatments” typically refers to levothyroxine — synthesized T4 that looks and acts like the T4 made in your thyroid gland. To avoid confusion, know that levothyroxine is a thyroid medication, though some incorrectly call it a “synthetic thyroid supplement.”
What is the difference between natural and synthetic thyroid treatments? Synthetic thyroid treatments (medications) are man-made and must be prescribed by a doctor. Natural supplements are found in nature and may be taken without the advice of a physician (though we recommend talking to your healthcare provider before starting any new supplements).
Natural Thyroid Treatments
How can I boost my thyroid naturally? You can boost your thyroid naturally by reducing stress, reducing allergens and toxins from your daily life, and taking science-backed supplements targeted at the underlying cause(s) for your specific case of thyroid dysfunction.
Natural thyroid supplements are not perfect. Many dietary supplements that are marketed to naturally boost thyroid health actually contain thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) without listing them as ingredients. It’s important to know what’s in your supplements!
It’s also common for patients to “DIY” their own “natural thyroid treatments” by choosing supplements they think will work for their condition. However, this can be dangerous.
As a functionally minded healthcare provider, I only recommend supplements to patients based on their individual needs, deficiencies, and other factors.
10 Natural Thyroid Supplements
The top 10 natural thyroid supplements that may help your symptoms include:
- Vitamin D
- Green tea extract
It is critical to consider the root cause and type of thyroid condition before taking any supplements. We recommend speaking to your doctor or contacting us to create the best plan for your individual health.
What are some pros of taking thyroid supplements? The pros of taking thyroid supplements include science-backed benefits that can treat the underlying cause of your thyroid disorder. Natural thyroid supplements typically boast lesser side effects than medications.
Check out these research-based supplements for various root causes of abnormal thyroid function.
Vitamin D is a hormone your body naturally produces. However, a large portion of the population is deficient in vitamin D, due in part to our indoor lifestyles. This vitamin deficiency may lead to an underactive thyroid.
Traditionally, scientists believed that vitamin D was mainly linked to autoimmune thyroiditis, but a 2020 study found that even non-autoimmune hypothyroidism was associated with vitamin D deficiency.
This 2018 study shows that Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and vitamin D deficiency are inextricably linked.
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial showed that vitamin D improved TSH levels and calcium levels in hypothyroid patients. Multivitamins including vitamin D may also be a good idea.
For medical-grade, 3rd-party tested Vitamin D, check out our Prime D + K.
“In the 1990s, selenium was identified as a component of an enzyme that activates thyroid hormone,” says a 2020 study published in Nature Reviews Endocrinology. Since then, selenium deficiency has been studied as a common cause of thyroid disorders.
It may help fight postpartum thyroiditis, which occurs when new mothers experience abnormal thyroid function.
Moderate amounts of iodine supplements can help prevent autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s and Graves’ — and may reduce symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Your body cannot produce iodine on its own, so it depends on dietary iodine to produce and secrete thyroid hormones, T3 and T4. Iodized salt is just salt fortified with iodine — a large-scale effort to reduce goiters in the American population that began in 1924.
Iodine shows promise for treating hyperthyroidism as well. In cases of Graves’ disease, when patients cannot take antithyroid medications due to side effects, potassium iodide has been used to control thyroid activity successfully. Iodine can acutely inhibit hormonal secretion.
Radioactive iodine is a treatment for hyperthyroidism that is gaining popularity. However, radioactive iodine is very different from iodine supplements — talk to specialists to find out more about this treatment option.
Iodine deficiency is also a leading cause of goiters, a thyroid disorder. Iodine is a standard treatment for goiters.
Be warned, though. Even if iodine is a common treatment for thyroid disorders, too much iodine can trigger thyroid problems. This should be taken with medical supervision.
Zinc is an essential mineral in the production of thyroid hormones T3, T4, and TSH. A zinc deficiency can lead to hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. If you are low on zinc, a zinc supplement could help to treat your thyroid disorder.
Zinc is often paired with magnesium, selenium, or even copper for optimal results. However, we recommend only taking mineral supplements you know that you are deficient in, so please seek out testing through your healthcare provider.
At PrimeHealth, testing for these nutrients is standard, as they play such a huge role in health, especially of the thyroid.
For medical-grade, 3rd-party tested Zinc, check out Prime Zinc.
Leaky gut syndrome is a common root cause of hypothyroidism. Probiotics are a common and proven treatment for leaky gut, also known as intestinal permeability.
Probiotics treat leaky gut, which is a significant risk factor for Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. If an endocrinologist or other healthcare professional believes that you may have leaky gut syndrome, probiotics can be a great supplement to add.
Be careful about using probiotics if you have SIBO. This means that intestinal bacteria linger in the small intestine, causing an overgrowth, and adding probiotics could potentially make this situation worse. Probiotics provide full benefit when they occupy your large intestine, not your small intestine.
Diindolylmethane (DIM) is a supplement typically used to treat female hormone imbalance, most notably estrogen dominance. DIM can aid female patients suffering from hormone-related thyroid problems.
Other studies show that DIM has regulated hormone levels in women with various conditions.
We also often recommend chasteberry for women with hormonal imbalance.
Glutathione fights oxidative stress that may increase the severity of hypothyroidism if left unchecked. Glutathione is a superb antioxidant. If inflammation is triggering your autoimmunity, glutathione is a great supplement.
A deficiency of glutathione can lead to hypothyroidism. Whether you’re deficient or not, glutathione may improve your thyroid health.
N-acetylcysteine is a precursor to glutathione. As a supplement, N-acetylcysteine can also help fight inflammation and free radicals.
Green tea contains a catechin called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). EGCG is a powerful antioxidant that benefits you in similar ways to glutathione.
This 2018 study shows how EGCG protects against autoimmune thyroid disorders via its anti-inflammatory properties.
Because green tea contains caffeine, there are potential side effects like insomnia if you consume caffeine too late in the day.
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Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant known for its anti-inflammatory properties that helps treat osteoarthritis. However, curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties may also fight against autoimmune diseases, like Hashimoto’s.
Taking curcumin with other anti-inflammatory compounds could help reduce the size of thyroid nodules, which are symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Turmeric in the diet should help increase your curcumin intake. However, it’s worth mentioning that the bioavailability of curcumin in turmeric is very low — meaning your body doesn’t absorb much curcumin. Your digestive tract destroys most of the curcumin in turmeric.
Liposomal curcumin is a novel approach to solving the bioavailability problem. Liposomes deliver curcumin (or whatever is contained within) directly to your cells, cleverly avoiding destruction in your digestive tract by mimicking a natural cell wall.
Ashwagandha is a common treatment in ancient Ayurvedic medicine. Studies show that ashwagandha is an effective treatment for hypothyroidism.
Ashwagandha is considered an adaptogenic herb, which helps the adrenal glands adapt to the stress that you are experiencing. Since the adrenal glands and thyroid are so intricately connected, it’s no surprise that supplements that nourish the adrenals can also help support thyroid function.
Science reveals that ashwagandha offers a lot of thyroid support and can help fight and prevent thyroid disease.
Supplements For Underlying Issues
In order to take the right supplements for thyroid problems, you need to know what underlying issues are triggering your thyroid condition.
When should you take thyroid supplements? You should take thyroid supplements when lifestyle and dietary changes haven’t led to the healing you were hoping for.
Let a qualified healthcare provider diagnose the root cause of your thyroid condition, and have a conversation with the healthcare expert about whether a supplement is suitable for your situation.
Below, supplements are broken down by which root cause of thyroid disorder they treat.
Also called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or autoimmune thyroiditis, Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disorder that leads to hypothyroidism, which can cause weight gain, fatigue, cold sensitivity, and constipation.
It has many potential root causes, so it is essential to diagnose the underlying cause(s) before treatment or supplementation.
The most common causes of Hashimoto’s disease (and the supplements to address each) are:
- Hormone imbalance — If any of your hormone levels are imbalanced, this may trigger Hashimoto’s disease. The best supplements for hormone imbalance are chasteberry and DIM.
- Leaky gut — When your intestines are chronically inflamed, your intestines might allow toxins to escape from the gut into the bloodstream. Leaky gut is both a cause and a symptom of hypothyroidism. The best supplements for leaky gut are probiotics, zinc, and curcumin. To heal your gut with the help of a PrimeHealth expert, join our online Prime Gut Health course.
- Infections — Tick-borne infections (like Lyme disease), viral infections (like Epstein-Barr), or gut infections like SIBO, may cause Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Some of the best supplements for infections are vitamins C and D, zinc, and green tea extract.
- Toxin exposure — Harmful toxins can mess with your body, particularly your thyroid gland. Watch out for heavy metal exposure, mold toxins, and industrial chemicals. Supplements to help fight toxin exposure include glutathione, milk thistle, and zinc.
- Nutrient deficiency — Nutrient deficiencies could lead to Hashimoto’s. Dietary supplementation can treat these deficiencies. The most commonly seen deficiencies include vitamin D, zinc, iron, selenium, and iodine. Other (less common) deficiencies to look for are in vitamin B12, folate, and L-tyrosine, an amino acid.
Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder that triggers an overactive thyroid, or hyperthyroidism, which can lead to weight loss, anxiety, insomnia, heat sensitivity, and diarrhea.
Like Hashimoto’s, you need to know the underlying cause of your Graves’ disease before treatment or supplementation.
Common hyperthyroidism supplements and Graves’ disease supplements include:
Risks Of Thyroid Supplements
What are the side effects of thyroid supplements? Though rare, many natural thyroid supplements do have side effects. Always speak with your healthcare provider about which supplements you should stop or initiate during pregnancy, as this changes your needs.
- Too much vitamin D can lead to hypercalcemia, stomach discomfort, kidney injury, and bone loss. But we’re talking a lot of vitamin D. Most people do best to take around 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily.
- Severe selenium side effects may include metallic taste, tenderness, fatigue, hair loss, and nausea. These indicate serious problems, and you should consult a doctor if any of these side effects occur.
- Iodine supplementation may lead to overconsumption of iodine, which could cause nausea and stomach pain. Too much iodine can lead to worsening thyroid illness.
- Too much zinc can cause heavy metal toxicity, nausea, diarrhea, metallic taste, kidney problems, and stomach damage.
- Probiotics aren’t the best option for patients with SIBO. Probiotics’ side effects include digestive distress and flatulence.
- DIM may trigger side effects, such as headache, nausea, and diarrhea.
- Glutathione doesn’t have many potential side effects, but long-term glutathione supplementation has been linked with zinc deficiency. You may consider combining zinc with glutathione supplements.
- Green tea extract can cause insomnia, increased heart rate, and nervousness because of its caffeine content. Excessive doses of EGCG could lead to liver or kidney problems, as well as low blood sugar.
- Curcumin can cause digestive distress, even at relatively low levels. This is common, but uncomfortable. Your stool may also turn yellow.
Nutrition For Thyroid Health
Of course, eating healthier can improve your overall wellness, possibly even your thyroid conditions. Food allergens and toxins can trigger Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
If you can fix your condition with dietary changes, you don’t really need dietary supplements.
A healthy diet can eliminate toxins, lessen inflammation, and regulate hormones to help with thyroid issues. Our guide to a hypothyroidism diet can help you get started!
Some experts (us included) suggest the Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) diet for 3-6 months to eliminate and identify potential inflammatory triggers from your diet. If your thyroid disorder improves, we know it was due to food triggers.
Once your condition improves, we will slowly reintroduce foods into your diet. If your condition worsens after adding a certain food, we will re-eliminate the food from your diet.
Pregnant women should not adhere to the Autoimmune Paleo diet.
Reversing your hypothyroidism depends on many factors, including lifestyle changes, dietary adjustments, and stress reduction. As part of these changes, supplements like iodine or vitamin D can play a part in your journey to hypothyroidism healing.
We don’t believe prescription medications should be the first response to thyroid disease. Natural options can produce excellent results by addressing the root cause of your illness.
If you’re interested in hypothyroidism supplements, check out our online store. Or, if you want to talk to a medical professional to see how we can help, schedule your free phone consultation right away.
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