The thyroid gland may be small, but its impact in terms of our health is huge! It’s essential to support it by ensuring you are getting the nutrients it requires as part of your daily diet.
What is the Thyroid?
The thyroid is an important gland located in your neck just below your Adam’s apple. It has the function of making two vital hormones that are secreted into the blood – triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones are essential for ensuring all the cells in your body function normally.
T3 & T4 play a crucial role in increasing the basal metabolic rate, which speeds up how quickly the body uses energy. These hormones make the cells of your body work harder, so it’s important that they are secreted at a regular rate.
Thyroid issues are relatively common and many of the body’s functions slow down when the thyroid can’t produce enough of the vital T3 & T4 hormones. Producing too little of these hormones because of an underactive thyroid is known as hypothyroidism, which means your cells and organs work slower. On the other hand, an overactive thyroid – known as hyperthyroidism, means your body will work faster than usual and can increase your heart rate and the frequency of other bodily functions.
The most common symptoms of an underactive thyroid include tiredness, feeling cold, lack of concentration, weight gain and depression. Whereas symptoms for an overactive thyroid include heat intolerance, weight loss and anxiety. If you are suffering from any of these symptoms it may be worth checking in with your doctor.
Around one in 20 people suffer from an issue related to their thyroid, so it’s important we support its health as much as possible to reduce the risk of a disorder developing.
Supporting your Thyroid Health
If you are wondering whether you need to take a supplement specifically for your thyroid, the likelihood is that you won’t. However, several nutrients that are important to include in your diet which can help support your thyroid health.
Selenium is a vital mineral for thyroid hormone production and it helps to protect the thyroid from oxidative stress. It is typically found in organ meats, muscle meats and seafood, but can also be found in Brazil nuts, cereals and other grains.
Arguably the most vital nutrient for the thyroid gland, the only known role of iodine is to support hormone production within the thyroid. Our bodies can’t produce iodine, so it is essential we obtain it from other sources. Fish such as cod and tuna or rich in iodine, as well as dairy products and iodized salt. A lack of iodine can directly lead to thyroid issues, so it’s important to ensure you’re getting enough in your daily diet.
Zinc is a mineral that is also crucial for the production of thyroid hormones. In addition to other nutrients, zinc is required to help synthesise thyroid hormones. Conversely, thyroid hormones are vital for absorbing zinc. Sources rich in zinc include a variety of protein foods such as poultry, eggs and seafood as well as whole grains and milk products.
Iron is required for the thyroid gland to be able to convert the T4 hormone into T3, so it’s vitally important to get enough in your diet. Iron can be found in red meat, liver, beans as well as dried fruits and fortified breakfast cereals.
B vitamins such as B12 are needed for the thyroid to function at an optimum level. B12 and other B vitamins can be found in sources such as meat, fish, eggs and cheese or can alternately be obtained through supplements such as One Nutrition B12-Max. B12 supplements can be easily included in your daily routine which makes them a preferable option for many people.
Vitamins A & E
Similarly to B vitamins, it’s important to get vitamins A & E in your diet for your thyroid to operate optimally. Vitamin A can be found in food sources such as cheese, eggs and oily fish, whereas Vitamin E can be found in plant-based oils, nuts, seeds as well as fruits and vegetables.
The thyroid gland plays a major role in the speed of our metabolism as well as the growth and development of the body, so it’s important we get all the nutrients required for it to function properly. If you are lacking any of the vital nutrients listed, it can be a good idea to take a supplement to ensure your thyroid is getting the support it needs.