Thyroid Issues, Food and You – Part 1
I’ve been talking with a lot of people lately who have thyroid issues (and I may be dealing with this as well), so I did a little research about how to use food to help balance my own thyroid hormones and support thyroid function in an effort to be proactive and hopefully avoid developing a more serious condition.
The thyroid gland affects your metabolism, the way your body utilizes and disperses energy, and your sleep, among other functions. Women are more susceptible than men to thyroid conditions, and many problems arise during times of hormonal flux, like during childbearing and perimenopause years.
Interestingly, certain nutrients can help support our thyroid function and help avoid a thyroid condition that could become serious (most likely requiring medication) or irreversible (requiring surgical intervention).
If you suspect a thyroid hormone imbalance due to symptoms like unexplained weight loss or weight gain, excessive fatigue or sleep disturbances, depression or anxiety type symptoms, cholesterol issues that don’t respond to diet/exercise/medication, etc. consult your doctor and request a full thyroid hormone panel (TSH, free T4, and T3 uptake) and selenium, iodine, and vitamin D levels.
Even if you are not diagnosed with a thyroid imbalance or dysfunction, including the nutrients in this series at the recommended daily levels can still be extremely beneficial to your health.
(My own TSH levels recently came back in the low normal range, but my doctor told me having T3 and T4 tested would not affect the way she would handle my TSH level, which at this point would not be considered for treatment. However, I’ve been having symptoms consistent with thyroid dysfunction, so I decided to look to nutrition to help me restore better balance on my own.)
MAJOR NUTRIENTS TO SUPPORT THYROID HEALTH – Part 1
Iodine: RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for women ages 19 and older is 150 mcg; for pregnant women, this increases to 220 mcg; lactating/nursing women 290 mcg
According to a 2012 CDC report, women of childbearing age (20-39) in the US had the lowest urine iodine levels of any other age group. If you are deficient in iodine, the thyroid just doesn’t have the most basic building-blocks to make its key hormones, and all the tissues in the body are negatively impacted as a result.*
Best Dietary Sources:
Seaweed, baked cod (66% RDA in 3-oz. serving),
Plain low-fat yogurt (50% RDA in 1-cup serving),
Reduced-fat milk (37% RDA in 1-cup serving),
Shakeology (35% RDA per single-scoop serving, from kelp),
Shrimp (23% RDA in 3-oz. serving),
Egg (16% RDA in 1 large egg)
In the U.S. iodine is usually added to table salt, and iodized salt in the U.S. contains 45 mcg iodine per gram of salt (1/4 tsp. iodized salt is about 1.5 g and provides 71 mcg, or 47% RDA).
HOWEVER, the majority of salt intake in the U.S. comes from processed foods, and food manufacturers almost ALWAYS use non-iodized salt in processed foods. If they do use iodized salt, they must list the salt as iodized in the ingredient list on the food label.
Because of my concern for including too much sodium in my family’s diet and fear that including it in recipes or using it for seasoning would cause my kids to develop a taste for excess salt, I’ve avoided adding table salt to foods almost completely.
After doing my research, I see that I’m at least getting 35% RDA from my daily Shakeology and 50% from yogurt, which I try to have every day but haven’t been totally consistent with.
I also eat eggs and shrimp, but not consistently enough to factor as part of my regular daily intake. So I see that on a good day, I’m getting about 85% RDA or maybe a little more, and many days I’m probably getting way less than that. My plan: Have 1 c. of plain nonfat yogurt every day, continue my Shakeology every day, and eat 1 egg every day.
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CLICK HERE to continue on to Part 2 of this series.
Will you change anything about your daily diet after reading this? Please share your thoughts in the “Comments” section below.
*Paragraph taken directly from Women to Women’s Thyroid Health article, by Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP