Supplements for Sluggish Thyroid

by Dr. Shavon Jackson-Michel, ND

About Dr. Shavon Jackson-Michel, ND

Dr. Shavon Jackson-Michel is an expert in the field of health and wellness and has been writing for LIVESTRONG.COM since 2009. She is a university-level professor and a licensed naturopathic physician providing individualized consultations on natural and holistic approaches to chronic disease at her Bloomfield, NJ office. Dr. Jackson-Michel is a doctoral graduate of the University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine.

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Overview

Hypothyroidism is the clinically diagnosed condition of a sluggish thyroid. The National Institute of Health (NIH) notes that approximately five percent of the U.S. population suffers from hypothyroidism. The disease is more frequently diagnosed in women, but a May 2010 "Up to Date" article suspects that another 4 percent of the population suffer silently with this condition as their thyroids function sub-clinically despite having normal blood work. The symptoms of a sluggish thyroid include a goiter, fatigue, intolerance to cold, constipation, weight gain and heavy menstrual bleeding may benefit by supplements that support thyroid function.

Tyrosine

Tyrosine is an amino acid required by the body for many functions, including the production of thyroid hormone. The two thyroid hormones made by the thyroid gland are T4 and T3. The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that tyrosine forms the backbone of both of these hormones. They suggest that a person can take a tyrosine supplement in 500 mg doses, two to three times per day, to help boost the function of a sluggish gland. Tyrosine can interact with psychiatric and thyroid medications and should be used under the supervision of a medical professional.

Iodine

Iodine is a mineral that is absolutely crucial to thyroid hormone production. In areas where iodine soil concentrations have been insufficient in the past, endemic numbers of people have developed goiters or enlarged thyroid glands, as the thyroid tissue enlarged in an attempt to compensate for insufficient hormone production. The Linus Pauling Institute notes that the thyroid gland gathers iodine circulating in the bloodstream and incorporates it into the T4 and T3 hormones. Iodinized salt and cod fish are the best sources of iodine. Food and supplement sources such as bladderwrack and kelp are considered better options for boosting iodine reserves, versus taking iodine directly. Even so, the Institute suggests that emphasizing iodine in diet or supplement form should be discussed with a healthcare practitioner to avoid side effects of toxicity.

Selenium

The mineral selenium is beneficial to the immune and nervous systems, and additionally services the endocrine systems by its inclusion in enzymes that activate thyroid hormone, T3. The Linus Pauling Institute discusses selenium’s role in converting the inactive T4 into the active T3 hormone. The enzyme iodothyronine deiodinase is dependent on the presence of selenium and without it, the site notes that a sluggish thyroid due to iodine deficiency will worsen. Additionally, selenium-deficient hypothyroidism is often under-diagnosed as symptoms of slowed physiological processes still occur in the face of often normal blood levels of thyroid stimulating hormone, or TSH, and T4.

5-HTP

The supplement 5-HTP is a precursor to the mood-enhancing hormone serotonin. A 2002 “Molecular Psychiatry” journal article states that animal and human studies have provided evidence that the thyroid gland and the serotonin producing system in the body are intimately connected. As a result, low levels of thyroid hormone affect levels of serotonin, and raising serotonin levels may offer a viable way to indirectly boost a sluggish thyroid gland. Inversely, the article discusses how enhancing thyroid health can affect mood disorders.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.