Thyroid supplements are a variety of minerals and vitamins that help support the thyroid gland in the body. The thyroid is part of the endocrine system. It produces, stores, and releases hormones necessary for normal and optimal functioning of the body and its systems. In fact, the thyroid is one of the most important glands in the body. It regulates digestion, heart rate, breathing, body temperature, and many more vital processes.
Issues with the thyroid can lead to an array of health consequences. Issues with the thyroid, specifically hypothyroidism, are commonly associated with fatigue, muscle aches, weakness, weight gain, goiter (an enlarged thyroid), and constipation. Although these are common symptoms associated with an underactive thyroid, also known as hypothyroidism.
Many individuals turn to thyroid supplements in order to keep their thyroid function optimal. These thyroid supplements frequently include various ingredients and nutrients that support thyroid function and the creation of thyroid hormones through specific processes.
1Iodine helps support the production of your main thyroid hormones and processes. Iodine is necessary to produce and make the main thyroid hormones, T3 and T4. If a person has an iodine deficiency, they are likely more at risk of hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid.
The effects of iodine supplementation on the thyroid were explored in pregnant women in one study. Researchers found that iodine supplementation was not beneficial in those with adequate thyroid levels or those with only a mild deficiency. The thyroid becomes dysfunctional with too much iodine (1).
However, small amounts of iodine supplementation have been found to have beneficial as opposed to detrimental effects. Iodine deficiencies have been associated with reduced thyroid function. Various doctors, researchers, and experts emphasize the importance of an adequate nutritional intake and consumption for this reason (2).
In fact, some studies indicate that it’s actually better to get iodine from the diet as opposed to supplement form if you can (3).
2Selenium may protect the thyroid and help activate it, releasing necessary hormones. A 2001 study outlined selenium and its effects on the thyroid. The study involved 31 critically ill patients. These patients were given selenium supplements, combined with zinc and other medication. Researchers observed moderate changes in thyroid function. In fact, they most notably saw improvements in thyroid hormone levels (4).
Another scientific study and article outline and concluded the protective effects of selenium as a thyroid supplement. It was shown that selenium might prevent thyroid disease. However, the authors did note that more studies are necessary to solidify these claims further and provide a direct cause and effect relationship (5).
A 2000 study also demonstrated the effects of a selenium deficiency on thyroid function. It was found the selenium deficiencies had a significant impact on antioxidant effects and thyroid function. It was further suggested that selenium supplementation could reduce such effects and consequences (6).
3Zinc is an ingredient frequently found in thyroid supplements that may help activate the thyroid hormones, contributing to adequate and normal thyroid function. Zinc is necessary for the synthesis of the thyroid hormones and their function (7).
A 2007 study examined zinc in relation to thyroid function. 2 zinc-deficient female participants were involved in the study. Researchers had them supplement with 26.4 mg of zinc per day. The results showed to reduce their zinc deficiency and improve thyroid function. Most notably, T3 levels saw significant improvements in both subjects (8).
More studies are required to solidify these claims. It seems the mechanism of action involving zinc in thyroid function is well-understood, but a direct link between zinc supplementation and thyroid function requires more proof with bigger clinical trials.
4Tyrosine has been used as an ingredient in thyroid supplements, and is thought to aid in normal thyroid function. Tyrosine inhibitors have been shown to have detrimental consequences on thyroid function (9).
Other studies and scientific articles have indicated the importance of tyrosine in optimizing T4 levels in the body (10).
Again, more studies are needed on tyrosine and its direct impact on thyroid function to further solidify these claims and its use in thyroid supplements.
5Ashwagandha may significantly improve thyroid function, indicating its use in thyroid supplements and similar products. In a 2018 study, researchers explored the use of ashwagandha in improving thyroid function. They concluded that ashwagandha may be beneficial for normalizing thyroid function and thyroid hormone levels in patients with hypothyroidism.
Researchers also indicated its safety of use in this study. However, 4 out of the 50 subjects did report a few mild and temporary adverse effects coinciding with taking ashwagandha (11).
Another review noted the use of ashwagandha in raising T4, a thyroid hormone, levels in participants, which also gives way to its beneficial use for thyroid function (12).
In a 2010 study, ashwagandha was found to normalize thyroid function in mice via measurements of thyroid hormone levels found in serum concentrations and samples taken (13).
6B12 is commonly used as one of many thyroid supplements to help with normal thyroid function. In fact, about 40% of patients with hypothyroidism also have a B12 deficiency. A 2006 study measured serum B12 levels in 115 patients with autoimmune thyroid disease, which can prevent the body from making the thyroid hormones it needs for optimal functioning. 28% of the patients in the study had low B12 levels.
With other factors, researchers ended up concluding that about 31% had a B12 deficiency of some sort. An inference can thus be made that lower B12 levels may decrease thyroid function. Since B12 is involved in a variety of energy-producing processes, it isn’t surprising (14).
7Magnesium thyroid supplements may help thyroid function in converting the thyroid hormones, T4 to T3. A 2002 study explored magnesium and zinc supplementation in rats with abnormal thyroid and lipid levels. It was found that magnesium actually aided in lipid metabolism, indicating its impact on improving thyroid function (15).
A 2007 study looked at the effects of magnesium supplementation on thyroid function when training participants to the point of exhaustion. The group taking magnesium supplements 5 days a week had higher T4 levels, preventing a reduced thyroid activity when the body is pushed to the point of exhaustion (16).
8Copper thyroid supplements may help regulate T3 levels and promote proper conversion of T4 to the active form, T3. An older 1988 study examined the thyroid status of pigs when treated with a copper infused diet, untreated, or supplemented with copper, iodine, or a quinoxaline derivative. It was found that copper, in particular, normalized the weight of the thyroid and increased thyroid hormone serum levels (17).
Another scientific review further suggested that thyroid cancer risk may arise when a copper, magnesium, or selenium deficiency is present (18).
9Vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increase in thyroid antibodies, which also frequently indicates a problem with the thyroid. A 2015 study investigated the vitamin D status of thyroid disease patients. 218 patients were included in the study. Researchers discovered they had lower vitamin D serum levels. When supplemented with vitamin D, thyroid antibodies significantly decreased – indicating that it promoted proper thyroid function (19).
Another review had similar findings, suggesting that vitamin D supplementation for patients with thyroid diseases may help promote proper thyroid function (20).
1Toxicity of selenium is possible and selenium supplementation should be monitored by the consumer closely. Toxicity and side effects of selenium may result in vomiting, nausea, fatigue, irritability, and more (21).
2Iodine may cause side effects in some individuals, including stomach pain, headaches, metallic tastes, and diarrhea. More sensitive individuals and in rare cases, iodine supplementation may cause swelling in the face, bruising, bleeding, joint pain, fever, lymph node enlargement, and allergic reactions.
3Zinc supplementation may produce vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, a metallic taste, kidney damage, stomach damage, burning, itching, and more in some individuals.
4In some cases, tyrosine supplementation may result in heartburn, fatigue, headaches, and nausea.
5In large doses, ashwagandha may cause stomach issues, including an upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea.
6Selenium and iodine supplements should be avoided or limited unless your doctor specifically prescribes them. They can have major effects, especially regarding the thyroid gland.
7Too much vitamin D may cause weakness, fatigue, headache, a loss of appetite, sleepiness, vomiting, and more. Do not exceed dosages of more than 4000 units. Moreover, do not take vitamin D if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, unless given the okay by your doctor.
Further, vitamin D may make kidney disease, and abnormal calcium blood levels worse. It’s important to monitor supplementation closely and be cautious of not exceeding the recommended amounts per day.
8Vitamin D, especially over the long-term and in high dosages, may cause bone loss.
9For magnesium supplementation, a healthy individual should not exceed more than 350 mg per day. Side effects may also include stomach issues, vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea.
10Copper supplementation should not exceed 10 mg per day. If more is taken, the risk of kidney failure or death increases. Symptoms of overdosing on copper supplements may involve nausea, vomiting, fever, bloody diarrhea, stomach pain, low blood pressure, and heart complications.
11Women who are breastfeeding should not exceed more than 2.8 mcg of vitamin B12 per day.
12If you have a sensitivity to cobalt, do not take B12.
There is no current standard dosage of thyroid supplements and medications as each patient and case is slightly different. Your best bet is to talk to your doctor or medical professional about what is right for you.
Do thyroid supplements help you lose weight? For many thyroid patients, calorie restriction or even a diet overhaul isn’t enough to allow for weight loss. Hypothyroidism can lower your metabolism, which means you need fewer calories, making it more difficult to cut enough calories to generate significant weight loss.
Can thyroid supplements cause weight gain? Weight gain may signal low levels of thyroid hormones – a condition called hypothyroidism. In contrast, if the thyroid produces more hormones than the body needs, you may lose weight unexpectedly. This is known as hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism is far more common.
Is ginger good for thyroid? The powerful anti-inflammatory properties of ginger can help relieve the inflammation often associated with thyroid disease. Chinese medicine suggests warming foods like ginger and ginger tea for the treatment of thyroid conditions. Lemons are a very good source of vitamin C, with one ounce providing 36% DV.
How long after starting thyroid medication will I see an improvement? If you’re older, or you have heart disease, you’ll probably start on a small dose. Your doctor will slowly raise the amount over time until you see an effect. About 6 weeks after you start taking the medicine, you’ll go back to your doctor for a blood test to check your thyroid hormone levels.
Can you live without your thyroid and no medication? If the entire thyroid is removed, a person becomes hypothyroid and incapable of producing essential thyroid hormones. You can live but life would be very difficult from a hormonal standpoint.
Is green tea good for thyroid? Green tea is generally thought to be safe for thyroid patients. However, there have been some studies that suggest consuming large doses of green tea in extract form can have adverse effects on the thyroid by reducing levels of T3 and T4 in the blood while significantly raising TSH levels.
Is thyroid curable permanently? Radioactive iodine and surgery also can “cure” the hyperthyroidism by removing the thyroid. The most important aspect of thyroid disease is that effective treatments are available that can restore thyroid function to normal, even if the underlying cause of the disorder is not cured.
Can stress cause thyroid problems? Yes, chronic stress can cause problems in your body for years before lab tests show a problem. All the while, you may experience hypothyroid symptoms, such as fatigue or weight gain.
Can hypothyroidism go away on its own? In some cases, however, the thyroid gland does not heal, so the hypothyroidism becomes permanent and requires lifelong thyroid hormone replacement. The thyroid usually heals itself over several months, but often not before a temporary period of hypothyroidism occurs.
How do you know if something is wrong with your thyroid? A simple blood test to check your thyroid’s hormone levels is all that’s needed to find out if you have hypothyroidism. For hyperthyroidism, your doctor will see if your thyroid gland is bigger than it should be or if your pulse is too fast. She’ll also look for a tremor in your fingers when you hold them out straight.
What happens if your thyroid stops working? Since your body’s energy production requires certain amounts of thyroid hormones, a drop in hormone production leads to lower energy levels.
Can I drink coffee after taking thyroid medication? Researchers have found that for patients taking levothyroxine tablets, absorption is affected by drinking coffee within an hour of taking thyroid drugs. This is why experts recommend that you wait at least 60 minutes after taking the levothyroxine to drink your coffee.
What happens if you eat right after taking thyroid medicine? The absorption of levothyroxine in the gut is decreased when taking the hormone at the same time as calcium, iron and some foods and other drugs. Because of this, patients are usually instructed to take levothyroxine on an empty stomach 30-60 minutes before food intake to avoid erratic absorption of the hormone.
Is it ok to miss thyroid medication? If you do miss a dose, take the missed dose as soon as you remember, says the American Thyroid Association. If it’s almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular medication schedule.
Thyroid supplements have some scientific evidence backing up their use and ingredients. However, it’s important to check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new supplementation, especially in relation to your thyroid. The thyroid is a complex gland with various factors impacting its function.
Further, your healthcare provider can help you determine if any adverse reactions may occur with the current medication you may be taking, especially if that medication involves the thyroid. They may also aid you in determining the correct dosage for you and your body.
In terms of thyroid supplements, iodine, selenium, zinc, tyrosine, ashwagandha, magnesium, B12, copper, and vitamin D may be recommended by your healthcare provider to help tackle any deficiencies causing thyroid issues, specifically hypothyroidism.
In summary, iodine contributes to the making and production of T3 and T4, the two major thyroid hormones that drive a number of functions in the body. Selenium is thought to have powerful protective effects on the thyroid relating to antioxidant properties. Zinc may contribute to the synthesis of the thyroid hormones and contribute to normal thyroid function.
Tyrosine and ashwagandha may work to optimize proper T4 levels. A deficiency in B12 has further been associated with abnormal thyroid function, indicating that supplementation may help to normalize the thyroid and its function. Magnesium and copper also plays a role in converting thyroid hormones. Lastly, vitamin D deficiencies have been associated with increased thyroid antibodies and thyroid diseases. By possibly supplementing with vitamin D, thyroid function can be improved.
If you’re concerned about the possibility that you may have a thyroid disorder, discuss it with your doctor and request testing. Many tests can determine what is really going on and help you tackle your health issues before they become bigger problems.