Maintaining thyroid health
Maintaining Thyroid Health
There are several considerations in maintaining optimal thyroid health. While thyroid disorders are common, few people consider or understand how to maintain their thyroid health.
The good news is that this gland does not require extensive care. Paying attention to your lifestyle and making sure that you are getting the right nutrients are the best ways to keep this gland healthy. You should also see your doctor annually to assess its overall function and health.
Blood testing can confirm both an overactive thyroid and an underactive thyroid. When doctors are looking to confirm hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), they are testing the TSH hormone levels and thyroxine hormone levels.
Those with this condition will typically have low amounts of TSH, or none at all. However, the levels of thyroxine in their body are severely high. While blood tests can work to confirm the condition, your doctor may perform other tests to assess overall thyroid health, including:
- Thyroid scan
- Radioactive iodine uptake test
To diagnose hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), your doctor needs to assess your TSH levels and thyroxine levels. A diagnosis is made when your TSH levels are high and your thyroxine levels are low. This is due to your pituitary gland trying to compensate and trigger your thyroid to produce more of the TSH hormone to keep levels normal.
Proper Nutrition For Thyroid Health
Thyroid function is supported by nutrients that help to keep in health and functioning normally.
Iodine: This is the most nutrient for thyroid gland health as it supports the production of hormones. Iodine also mitigates oxidative stress that can affect thyroid health.
Foods High In Iodine:
- Baked Potatoes
- Cheddar Cheese
- White Bread
- Green Beans
- Turkey Breast
- Dried Prunes
- Navy Beans
- Canned Tuna
- Boiled Eggs
- Iodized Salt
- Himalayan Salt
- Plain Yogurt
Antioxidants And Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 deficiency is common in people with thyroid disorders. In fact, about 30% of thyroid disease patients have below normal vitamin B12 levels. Since this vitamin works along with thyroid hormones to support metabolism, having a deficiency can reduce metabolism further. Antioxidants, such as vitamin A, C and E also help to temper oxidative stress that fights degenerative diseases and promotes healthy aging. Oxidative stress is higher in those with the most common form of hyperthyroidism known as Graves’ disease.
Foods High In Vitamin B12:
- Cow’s milk
Foods High In Vitamin C:
- Citrus fruits: oranges, lemons, grapefruit, limes
- Brussels sprouts
- Collard, Mustard and Turnip Greens
- Chill Peppers And Bell Peppers
Foods High In Vitamin E:
- Peanuts And Almonds
- Beans And Soybeans
- Asparagus and Leafy Green Vegetables
- Sunflower Seeds
- Whole Grains
Selenium: This is a trace mineral and the highest concentration of selenium in the body is in the thyroid gland. This mineral plays an integral role in certain enzymes that are critical for thyroid function. It also mitigates oxidative stress that can affect thyroid health. Having your selenium levels tested about once per year is important if you have a thyroid disorder.
Foods High In Selenium:
- Brazil Nuts – a few Brazil nuts daily gives you an adequate amount of selenium
- Oysters (cooked)
- Whole-Wheat Bread and Whole Grains
- Sunflower Seeds
- Beef & Lamb
- Chicken and Turkey
- Mushrooms (Crimini)
Vitamin D: This vitamin is critical for bone health, but being deficient in this vitamin is also associated with a thyroid condition called Hashimoto’s disease. However, at this point, experts are unsure whether the deficiency causes the thyroid disorder or vice versa. Keeping vitamin D levels within the normal range is important regardless to ensure optimal thyroid function.
Foods High In Vitamin D:
- Tuna, mackerel, and salmon
- Foods fortified with vitamin D: cereals, some dairy, orange juice and soy milk
- Beef liver
- Egg yolks
Magnesium: Magnesium is an important mineral that plays a key role in your body processes and is essential for thyroid health. Fatigue, muscle cramps, and changes in your heartbeat could be signs that you’re not getting enough magnesium.
Foods Rich In Magnesium:
- Brazil Nuts, Cashews and Almonds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Leafy greens
Zinc: Zinc is vital to thyroid health, and low levels of zinc can result in low levels of T4, T3, and TSH.
Foods Rich In Zinc:
- Nuts: Brazil Nuts, Pecans, Walnuts and Almonds
- Beef, Turkey and Lamb
- Split Peas
- Ginger Root
- Fresh Oysters
- Sunflower Seeds
- Whole Grains
- Maple Syrup
Iron: Iron deficiency can result in decreased thyroid function. When combined with an iodine deficiency, iron needs to be replaced to repair the thyroid imbalance.
Foods Rich In Iron:
- Organ Meats
- White Beans
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Blackstrap Molasses
Copper: Copper plays a key role in the production of TSH and T4. T4 helps to regulate cholesterol and studies show that copper deficiency may lead to higher cholesterol and heart problems in those who have hypothyroidism.
Foods Rich In Copper:
- Crabmeat, Oysters and Lobster
- Nuts and Sunflower Seeds
- Shitake Mushrooms
- Tomato Paste
- Dark Chocolate
Ensuring Optimal Thyroid Health
If you and your doctor believe that your thyroid gland is not working properly, a quick blood test is all that is necessary. The blood test measures the levels of thyroid hormones and if the ratios are off, you are diagnosed with a thyroid disorder.
If your thyroid function is underactive, your doctor can prescribe a medication to help promote normal functioning. A healthy functioning thyroid results in the ability to successfully lose weight or maintain weight because the metabolism will be working properly.