The month of January is deemed Thyroid Awareness Month. In recognition of this, here we take a brief look at the functions and health considerations of the thyroid, and discuss some of the supplements which can best support this critical body part.
What Thyroid Health Means
The human body is a complex system. One of the organs which most impacts the others is the thyroid. It is a gland in the neck which produces hormones, which in turn regulate heart rate, blood pressure, and many other bodily functions and processes. January is Thyroid Awareness Month, so it’s the perfect time to account for your thyroid health as you start the year.
The thyroid produces two primary hormones: triiodothyronine, or T3, and thyroxine (T4). There are others as well. A few different thyroid conditions exist, each with a different course and symptoms. Two of these are hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid), as well as its opposite, hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). Other thyroid disorders are specific to women, such as postpartum thyroiditis (inflammation which can lead to hypothyroidism), and thyroid changes that affect the menstrual cycle, as well.
Various medical treatment methods exist for managing disorders of the thyroid and are often successful. However, natural remedies can also help. Nutrient intake, for instance, also bears significantly on thyroid health, due to the necessity of a variety of nutrients for thyroid functionality.
Supplements and Herbs That Support the Thyroid
The thyroid and the hormones it produces are affected by a person’s nutrient intake. Essential substances, such as iodine, can support the thyroid if taken properly. Other minerals and herbs can also help regulate the thyroid.
Selenium is key for the production of hormones in the thyroid. Selenium deficiency is associated with hypothyroidism, and it’s been shown that supplementing with selenium can reduce its symptoms. Supplementing with selenium has also been shown to improve thyroid function in those with Grave’s disease, a condition that leads to hyperthyroidism.
Iodine is a crucial substance for a properly functioning thyroid. It is essential for the production of both T3 and T4. Iodine deficiency is linked to various forms of thyroid disease, including hypothyroidism. Short-term supplementation of iodine has been shown to increase levels of both T3 and T4. Increases in these hormones are dose-dependent. Too much iodine can be disruptive and cause the inverse issue of hyperthyroidism. so iodine should only be taken in the recommended doses and under supervision of your healthcare provider.
Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in the body, and is necessary for the conversion of the T4 hormone into T3, which is the more potent form of this primary thyroid hormone. Magnesium deficiency is linked to multiple thyroid disorders, such as thyroiditis. Supplementing with magnesium could help treat this disorder, as well as the symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as migraine headaches.
Ashwagandha is a traditional herbal remedy with a variety of applications. It can be found in a complex supplement alongside magnesium and other natural substances that benefit the body. Ashwagandha has been shown to reduce thyroid abnormalities associated with mild, subclinical hypothyroidism.
L-carnitine is a compound that helps the body process fat into energy. It’s been shown that hyperthyroidism depletes the body’s energy stores of carnitine. Supplementing with l-carnitine could make up for this deficiency, and improve quality of life for those with hyperthyroidism.
If you or a family member experience thyroid-related issues, you might want to consider how these supplements could help regulate and improve your thyroid health. Talk to your healthcare provider before adding any of these to your daily diet.