Thyroid Issues, Food and You – Part 3

Thyroid Issues, Food and You – Part 3

This is the final segment in a 3-part series about how to use food to help balance thyroid hormones and support thyroid function and health. If you missed previous segments in this series, read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.



Research is showing a link between iron deficiency and decreased thyroid function, so it’s especially important to be sure iron intake is at an optimal level.  

RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for women ages 19-50 is 18 mg daily; for pregnant women, this increases to 27 mg daily; for lactating/nursing women the daily requirement decreases to 9 mg daily; for women 51 years of age and older, the daily requirement is 8 mg.

Best Dietary Sources:
Heme iron

(from animal foods that originally contained hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that delivers oxygen to cells):

Chicken liver (RDA 61% per 3-oz. serving),
Canned oysters (RDA 32% per 3-oz. serving),
Beef liver (RDA 29% per 3-oz. serving),
Lean beef chuck roast (RDA 17% per 3-oz. serving),
Ground beef (RDA 12% per 3-oz. serving),
Turkey – dark meat (RDA 11% per 3-oz serving)

Non-heme iron
(iron in plant foods like lentils & beans – this is the form added to iron-fortified foods and not absorbed as well as heme iron):

100% iron fortified cereal (RDA 100% per 3/4 c.),
Fortified instant oatmeal (RDA 61% per packet),
Soybeans (RDA 48% per 1 c.),
Lentils (RDA 37% per 1 c.),
Spinach (RDA 36% per 1 c.),
Kidney beans (RDA 29% per 1 c.),
Black-eyed peas (RDA 24% per 1 c.),
Navy beans (RDA 24% per 1 c.),
Black beans (RDA 20% per 1 c.),
Pinto beans (RDA 21% per 1 c.)

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Iron is less easily absorbed into the body when iron-rich foods are consumed in the same meal with (or supplement taken with) high-calcium foods like milk, yogurt, almonds, etc.  To optimize your body’s absorption of iron, pair iron-rich foods with foods high in vitamin C.  
If you depend on iron-fortified cereals as a main source, remember that milk will decrease your body’s absorption of the iron in the cereal – try serving these cereals mixed with nuts or dried fruits in a trail mix type snack. 

Some complementary iron/vitamin C food pairings include:

  • Fresh spinach & mandarin oranges, grapefruit, or strawberries
  • Black beans & red bell pepper
  • Fresh spinach salad with black beans and mandarin oranges or red bell peppers
  • Beef & broccoli
  • Dark-meat turkey & sweet potatoes
  • Black-eyed peas & green bell pepper or tomatoes
  • Lentils & cauliflower

After doing my research, I see that I’m at least getting 19% RDA from my daily Shakeology and about 46% with my spinach and black bean salads, which I have probably 2-3 times per week.  

I eat beef occasionally (I sort of lost my taste for it during pregnancy with my daughter and it still doesn’t appeal to me much anymore), probably not enough to count as an iron source for me.  I also eat Grape Nuts with fresh berries usually 1-2 times per week.

My plan:
Alternate Grape Nuts breakfast days with spinach salad lunch days and increase my spinach servings to at least 2 c. on those days.  This can be done by increasing salad servings to 5-6 times per week and increasing portion size and/or adding spinach into my Shakeology smoothie (which also provides 300% RDA vitamin C, so good for help with absorption!).  I’ve done this in the past, and it’s really good!  Seeing that I need to increase my spinach consumption, this is an easy way for me to do it.  I can add even more by including more beans and trying some new dishes with lentils or black-eye peas.  (To be honest, I remember not liking lentils as a kid, and haven’t had them since.  I’m not sure if I’ll try them again or not!)


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The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

1 thought on “Thyroid Issues, Food and You – Part 3”

  1. Pingback: Thyroid Issues, Food and You - Part 2

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