Ask the Naturopathic Doctor
Topic: Thyroid Specific Diet
Q: What is the deal with iodine-rich foods?
A: Iodine is a very important mineral which is found in thyroid hormone. In countries where soil nutrients are poor, there is often a higher incidence of thyroid dysfunction. There is a lot of information out there about iodine, with some books suggesting as much as 50mg of iodine per day to improve hypothyroidism. Supplementing even with does above 400 mcg (micrograms, and there are 1000 micrograms in 1 mg) can cause thyroid reactions and worsening of symptoms in some cases. Knowing if a person has antibodies against their thyroid (the condition Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) is vital before taking high doses. Dietary recommendations are 150mcg which can be consumed using iodized or sea salt, seafoods, sea vegetables, seaweed and fish. If thyroid hormones are low and there are no antibodies, sometimes I will suggest up to 2mg per day in the form of kelp supplementation. Best to keep low unless advised otherwise.
Q: I have hypothyroidism, do I have to cut out gluten?
A: Good question! Gluten can have a spectrum of effects ranging from a general irritant to life-threatening. Again, this response comes down to the presence of antibodies/Hashimoto’s. The relationship between Celiac and Hashimoto’s has been clinically correlated and researched. In my practice, I have seen many times when gluten is removed, antibodies reduce. Often people feel generally better without gluten so it can be a win-win situation. If a hypothyroid patient does not have Hashimoto’s and notices no change when gluten is removed, I think it is ok to consume in moderation.
Q: I have heard Brazil nuts are good for thyroid, is that true?
A: The active thyroid ingredient in Brazil nuts is selenium. This amazing mineral lowers thyroid antibodies and helps the body convert thyroid hormone into the most active form. It is approximated that 4 Brazil nuts will contain about 200 mcg of selenium which is the suggested supplemental intake. However, the amount per nut depends on soil quality so it could be a lot lower or even above the 200 mcg. Therapeutical use of selenium is usually better in supplement form to make sure the prescribed dose is achieved but regular Brazil nut intake is a great idea!
Dr. Jennifer Luis BSc., BEd., ND