Do you think your Vitamin Supplement has nothing to do with your Thyroid medication? Think again.
Some people suffering from thyroid conditions erroneously think they don’t need to take nutritional supplements. On occasion, we hear, “My vitamin supplement has nothing to do with. my thyroid medication.” Yes, it is true that medications like levothyroxine—the man-made form of thyroxine (T4)—can help the body regulate thyroid hormone functions. T4 is the only hormone released by your thyroid gland, and it is inactive, meaning it doesn’t affect the body’s cells. However, both the liver and kidneys convert most of T4 into triiodothyronine (T3), which is the active hormone that impacts the cells in your body.
For people suffering from a thyroid condition, one or several of these body systems (mechanisms) are not functioning optimally and that can impact how your thyroid medication is absorbed, utilized and converted.
Understanding how the thyroid becomes depleted before taking nutritional supplements makes good sense for people with thyroid conditions, including those taking thyroid medications, it’s helpful to understand the underlying mechanisms of what causes thyroid depletion in the first place. While there are a number of direct causes, among the key aspects affecting thyroid function are:
• Poor diet, which leads to malnutrition and whole-body depletion.
• Toxins, from air, water, food, and drugs, including pharmaceutical drugs, put stress on all body systems, but especially the liver and kidneys, which are responsible for the conversion of T4 to T3.
• Lack of sleep increases TSH, and higher levels of TSH translate to slower body metabolism and an under-active thyroid.
• Inactivity; sedentary lifestyles are detrimental to the body and optimal functioning. • Microbes; the gut microbiome and its metabolites affect thyroid function on many levels, so having a healthy microbiome is essential for optimal thyroid health.
• Stress; as your stress increases and as cortisol increases, so does your TSH.
• Certain pharmaceutical drugs, like oral contraception and beta-blockers for the heart, can affect thyroid function.
• Autoimmune disorders, which disproportionately affect women (nearly 80% of all autoimmune diagnoses today are in women.)
• Inflammation, which can slow the conversion of T4 to T3 and worsen symptoms of thyroid disease.
What increases inflammation? All of the above. When thyroid function isn’t quite up to par, it’s true that pharmaceuticals can help. However, these drugs do not cure the disease, nor do they address the nutrient and metabolic deficiencies common in anyone struggling with a thyroid condition and any other chronic disease, for this matter. So when looking to resolve a thyroid condition, or minimize its effects, we must always start with the basics.
Nutrient Deficiency is Widespread in Thyroid Patients. The vast number of thyroid patients is deficient in critical nutrients. Why is this? As it turns out, hypothyroidism tends to cause low stomach acid, and low stomach acid is directly linked to hypothyroidism. (i) There is such a thing called the gut-thyroid connection: The gut helps the body to activate and utilize thyroid hormone more effectively, while the thyroid helps the gut stay healthy by encouraging digestion.
Because hypothyroid patients typically have low stomach acid and are not digesting food well, we aren’t extracting or absorbing necessary nutrients from food. When the body senses low levels of nutrition, it responds by releasing the “hunger hormone” ghrelin, which increases appetite. And while we may be consuming an adequate amount of food, we will still have cravings, because the body is not getting the nutrients it needs.
"Poor digestion also increases the risk of developing nutritional deficiencies"
Calcium, vitamin B12, Vitamin D, and magnesium, (ii) and can also lead to bacterial overgrowth, which directly affects thyroid function and nutrient absorption. It’s a vicious cycle that uninterrupted can result in other health issues.
Key Steps for Eliminating Nutrient Deficiencies The first step is always to address the low stomach acid, naturally, as pharmaceuticals will only create more gut imbalances, leading to further digestive and hormone difficulties. The herb Berberine can be effective for this. Read more about that in our article on the benefits of a low-carb diet for thyroid health here.
Another key action is to improve your diet. Eliminating processed foods, which contain potentially toxic chemicals, dyes and preservatives, is a critical first step. Adding more organic fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds is another crucial step. While nutrient values have been declining over the years due to farming practices that deplete soil quality, which affects nutrient density, organic foods still contain higher levels of nutrition.
Fact is that most people are deficient in vitamins and minerals, not just those with thyroid conditions. So, the more nutrients you make available to the body, the better chance you have of balancing hormone function. Plus, eating more fruits and vegetables, which are high in fiber, will help keep weight down.
The third critical action to improve nutrient uptake is through the use of nutritional supplements. Not all supplements are alike; there are a few in a class of their own. Not only are these made in the U.S., with the highest quality raw materials, but they are designed to be highly digestible and absorbable, which is essential for anyone struggling with a thyroid condition.
Why Adding High-Quality Nutritional Supplements Helps Heal the Thyroid-Deficient Body All of the above-mentioned factors and others may contribute to you personally having sub-optimal levels of nutrients, and these sub-optimal levels may be negatively impacting your thyroid with symptoms that mimic thyroid symptoms. It's why thyroid patients say "my TSH is normal, but I don't feel normal".
Healthy hormone function depends on getting the right amount and mix of nutrients. This is especially the case with thyroid hormone as it is so sensitive to changes in nutrient density. We’re convinced that one of the main reasons a thyroid patient doesn’t feel better, even if they take medication, is because they don't realize the connection between nutrition and thyroid function as it's often not addressed by healthcare providers on how take action to improve all the other systems in their bodies.
For those that believe levothyroxine is enough or that their supplement doesn't have anything to do with their thyroid medication, consider that taking levothyroxine over the long-term has been shown to:
• Decrease bone mineral density, which could decrease height and result in bones that break more easily.
• Lead to heart problems, including heart palpitations.
• Increase chances for an allergic reaction. There are short-term side effects too with pharmaceuticals, and that goes for levothyroxine. Some of the more common are: hair loss, rash, headache, digestive problems, such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, intolerance to heat, fever and sweating, muscle weakness or spasms, shortness of breath, anxiety or irritability, irregular periods and difficulty sleeping—all of which create more stress.
It makes sense, then, to prioritize nutrient intake, which will optimize body function and, improve T4 to T3 conversion and therefore, minimize our reliance on medication.
Support the WHOLE Body, Western medicine has evolved into a form of medicine that looks at specific symptoms related to diseases. It then attempts to alleviate the pain and discomfort of these symptoms through the use of pharmaceutical drugs and surgeries. Because modern medicine only addresses the symptoms of disease, not its root cause, there can never be a reversal of disease. The best form of medicine, therefore, is an integrative approach—one that incorporates lifestyle and other natural medical treatments to correct underlying deficiencies, which can restore health.
In this model, pharmaceuticals are best used only when necessary and until lifestyle changes are put into place.
Not All Supplements are Created Equally Some of the key vitamins and nutrients involved in thyroid physiology (including the release and conversion of thyroid hormone and thyroid receptor sites) include:
• B Vitamins. Anywhere from 10-55% of patients with hypothyroidism and/or Hashimoto’s as having B12 deficiency. As a side note, just as many in the general population are B12 deficient.
• Iron. Iron is required for the creation of thyroid hormone and low levels are associated with low circulating levels of T3 thyroid hormone.
• Iodine. Iodine is another essential nutrient required in thyroid hormone creation, but it’s difficult to get from diet, which is why so many people are deficient in it.
• Zinc. Zinc helps your body utilize thyroid hormone by helping it transform from the inactive T4 metabolite into the active T3 metabolite.
• Selenium. Selenium helps to protect the thyroid gland from free radical damage and autoimmune attack. And like zinc it also plays a small role in T4 to T3 conversion. As such, a high-quality multi-vitamin, multi-mineral formula is an important addition to any thyroid health program. And when a formula is specifically designed for thyroid patients, like Thyvita, it’s even a bigger benefit.
Our leading 3rd-party-tested, patented thyroid formula provides effective dosages in combinations that support overall thyroid function along with a delivery system that accommodates anyone with digestive issues. Nearly all of the patients that try Thyvita report an improvement in overall health and function. You can read first-hand testimonials from our patients here.
In Closing… By replacing nutrients through high-quality nutritional supplementation, patients with thyroid conditions can realize a significant improvement in health. Not only does improved nutrient density lead to fewer thyroid symptoms, it leads to a boost in overall health and vitality.
i Knezevic, J., Starchl, C., Tmava Berisha, A., & Amrein, K. (2020). Thyroid-Gut-Axis: How Does the Microbiota Influence Thyroid Function?. Nutrients, 12(6), 1769.
ii Childs, W. (2022, December 7). 10 Gut Problems Associated with Thyroid Disease. Accessed from https://www.restartmed.com/gut-problems-thyroid/ Commented [LK7]: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2722240 4/ Commented [LK8]: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1650087 8/ Commented [LK9]: