Thyroid disorders affect an estimated 20 million Americans, and women are up to eight times more likely than men to develop a thyroid condition. Many of you know that I have Hashimoto's hypothyroidism myself. I've tried just about every natural remedy and supplement to help my thyroid function better. I have seen first-hand how vital nutrition and specific nutrients are for thyroid health.
Everything I recommend for my patients in my practice, I've experimented with myself, so I feel confident in their safety as well as efficacy. If you're struggling with your thyroid health or are just interested in exploring the topic, I've got natural (and evidence-based) solutions that can help regulate your thyroid. I'll share the best thyroid support supplements and a few to avoid in this article.
How Do Thyroid Support Supplements Work?
Thyroid supplements work by providing the vitamins, minerals, or other nutrients that your body needs to support optimal thyroid function. Since thyroid conditions are so common, there's a lot of research to support many of these nutrients. Still, it can be overwhelming to sort through what actually works versus what doesn't.
I've simplified it for you by sharing the best thyroid support supplements that I recommend to my patients. As I'll describe in more detail below, certain nutrients are more commonly low for people with hypothyroidism. Sometimes, you can have a lower nutrient status which contributes to the problem. Or you can also need more nutrients because your thyroid needs a little extra love.
Supplements can also support other areas of health that play a role in thyroid function that may not seem an obvious connection. Gut health is a big example. If you have gut inflammation or an imbalance of gut bacteria, it increases your risk of intestinal permeability (what many call leaky gut).
Leaky gut is closely linked to autoimmunity and plays a big role in Hashimoto's. So addressing any gut imbalances with nutrients and probiotics can support your thyroid function.
Supplements and nutrition are only one part of thyroid health, but they are incredibly helpful. Supplements are not designed to treat or cure medical conditions. Instead, they work best in supporting optimal thyroid function and are often used with a combination of other forms of treatment like medication (when needed), diet, stress reduction, and sleep.
I created the Thyroid Support supplement with essential thyroid nutrients like iodine, vitamin A, and selenium plus other supportive nutrients like zinc, copper, and l-tyrosine to provide comprehensive thyroid support.
When to See Your Doctor About Thyroid Problems
If you have any concerns about your thyroid, or you’re experiencing any of the symptoms below, please see your doctor for proper testing and treatment.
- Unexplained weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- Brain fog
- Muscle weakness
- Joint pain
- Dry skin
- Brittle nails
- Thinning hair
- Cold intolerance
Changes in your menstrual cycle can also be a sign of thyroid issues.
Thyroid blood tests can be tricky. The standard testing doesn't always include all the different markers you need to get a complete picture of what's going on with your thyroid.
For example, the TSH test is often used as the primary indicator of thyroid function, but it doesn't tell you the full story. For example, the TSH test doesn’t give you any information about thyroid antibodies which are key in diagnosing Hashimoto's.
It's best to work with a healthcare practitioner who specializes in thyroid health to make sure you're getting the proper tests and treatment for your specific situation.
The 13 Best Supplements to Support Thyroid Function
The following are what I've found to be the best thyroid support supplements. It's a long list, so I also created my Thyroid Support Kit to contain as many thyroid-supportive nutrients in as few capsules as possible (so you don't feel like you have to plan your day around taking supplements). Plus, it supports your adrenal glands in functioning at their best.
I’ll be sharing the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for some of these nutrients. If you’re not familiar with the RDA, this is the minimum amount you need to take daily to avoid deficiency. It isn’t the amount you need for optimal health and it doesn’t account for people who are already experiencing symptoms from suboptimal levels or deficiency. So, while the RDA is helpful in understanding the absolute minimum amount we need daily, it doesn’t provide information about what is the best level of intake for you.
Iodine and the thyroid go hand-in-hand, but the relationship is complicated. It's a critical nutrient for thyroid function because its job is to help make thyroid hormones T3 and T4. So without enough iodine, the body can't make thyroid hormone, leading to hypothyroid.
But here's where it gets tricky. Too much iodine also increases the risk of hypothyroidism, especially Hashimoto's, as seen by raising antibodies. Excess iodine can essentially slow down the production of thyroid hormones and damage thyroid cells. So the right balance, especially with other nutrients like selenium, is critical.
The RDA for iodine intake is 150 micrograms (mcg) for adults and 220 mcg during pregnancy. Generally, research suggests that more than 300 mcg of iodine a day can adversely impact the thyroid and increase thyroid antibodies. So, it’s definitely a situation where more is not better.
Magnesium is a nutrient all-star and is so helpful for many women's health conditions, especially thyroid support. Low magnesium can impact your Hashimoto's risk and worsen symptoms by increasing thyroid antibodies.
Some studies suggest that hypothyroidism rates (even subclinical hypothyroid, which means your thyroid hormone levels are in the “normal” range, but you experience many of the symptoms) are much lower for people with adequate magnesium than those with the lowest levels. The thyroid needs magnesium (and other trace minerals) to convert inactive thyroid hormone to active.
Magnesium is also supportive of feelings of anxiety or insomnia. Hypothyroid increases adrenal stress and can cause anxiety, and magnesium has calming effects on the nervous system.
The RDA for magnesium is 310 mg for women, but many don't get enough in their diet and because it is used in so many processes by the body, have suboptimal levels can be problematic. A magnesium supplement can help increase intake with most people doing well to aim for 150-300 mg in a supplement.
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Inositols are a group of compounds involved in hormone signaling, including TSH. Myo-inositol is a type of inositol that's especially beneficial for thyroid health. I use inositol in my practice often for PCOS, but it's also helpful for lowering TSH levels.
Studies show (and I've found) that myo-inositol works with selenium to support healthy thyroid function, especially with Hashimoto's, where it can lower thyroid antibodies. It also appears to help with subclinical hypothyroidism and may even reduce thyroid nodules.
The general recommendation is 2,000 mcg of inositol (aka myoinositol) daily for supporting thyroid health.
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Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and beneficial for many women's health conditions, including thyroid disorders. Since Hashimoto's is an autoimmune condition, chronic inflammation is closely linked.
Autoimmunity means that your immune system is upregulated (including the inflammatory process) as the body mistakenly attacks its own tissue. In the case of Hashimoto's, the body is attacking thyroid cells. Studies on thyroid health indicate this inflammation and oxidative stress can damage thyroid cells. Plus, inflammation could prevent your cells from being responsive to thyroid hormones.
Eating a diet rich in foods containing omega-3 fatty acids or supplementing (since many people don't get enough from their diet) may help promote healthy inflammation levels to reduce the impact on your thyroid. When supplementing, most people do well to aim for about 1,500-2,000 mg of a high quality omega-3 fatty acid.
B vitamins, especially vitamin B12, are also essential components for a healthy thyroid. You need a healthy gut for adequate B12 absorption, and as you learned above, gut health and the thyroid are inextricably linked. B12 is critical for a healthy nervous system, energy, and low levels can contribute to anemia.
Research suggests that vitamin B12 deficiency is linked to Hashimoto's, with higher thyroid antibodies associated with lower vitamin B12. Another study found that around 40 percent of the participants with hypothyroid also had vitamin B12 deficiency.
The RDA varies for each of the B vitamins. While many people can get these vitamins from food, if there are issues with the gut or absorption or following a strictly plant-based diet in the case of B12, supplementing with a B complex could be helpful.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin involved in thyroid hormone metabolism. It helps inhibit TSH by downregulating a gene required for its production. Vitamin A works with other nutrients like zinc to convert inactive to active thyroid hormone.
Lower levels of vitamin A can adversely impact the thyroid gland and lead to higher TSH. But just like iodine, too much vitamin A could suppress thyroid function, so more is not better. You can't overdo food sources of vitamin A, but too much from supplements can be toxic in super high amounts (so you want to make sure the supplement you take has the right amounts).
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Selenium is a big one for thyroid nutrients, and the thyroid gland stores the majority of selenium in the body. It's needed to make active thyroid hormone, so a deficiency means you have less active thyroid hormone and more hypothyroid symptoms. It's also an antioxidant, which helps reduce the impact of oxidative stress that can damage the thyroid gland.
Adequate selenium reduces the risk of autoimmune thyroid, and supplementation supports lower thyroid antibodies. The RDA for selenium is 55 mcg/day but clinically some people feel better with upwards of 100 to 200 mcg a day. Some foods like brazil nuts are a rich source of selenium, but the actual amount can vary based on soil content.
Copper is a mineral that's involved in thyroid hormone production and regulation. It helps make T4 and regulates how much is absorbed in the cells. Copper levels must be balanced with zinc, so too much or too little of one can lead to issues with the other.
Thyroid hormone levels can be lower in people with copper deficiency. The best way to get copper is from food, and the RDA is 900 mcg a day. But if you are supplementing with zinc, copper must also be balanced in the correct ratio.
Vitamin D is a hormone involved in over 1000 processes in the body, including many related to the thyroid. It can support lower TSH and thyroid antibodies. Low vitamin D levels are common with Hashimoto's (and autoimmunity in general) and hypothyroid, and many experts consider it a key player in autoimmune conditions.
The best way to get vitamin D is from sun exposure, but since that's not possible year-round or for everyone, supplementation could be helpful, especially in the winter. The RDA for vitamin D is 600 IU/day, but many experts recommend a dose of 2000-5000 IU/day.
Getting tested to know your baseline is always a good idea.
Turmeric is a spice that contains curcumin, an active compound with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Since inflammation is a root cause of many chronic diseases, including thyroid conditions, curcumin can help support autoimmune thyroid health by helping to protect against oxidative damage.
Curcumin has been shown to help reduce the size of thyroid nodules. It also could help support blood pressure, which can be a concern for some people with thyroid conditions. You can get turmeric from supplements or by adding it to food. If you use the spice, make sure to pair it with black pepper to enhance absorption.
Zinc is a mineral needed for thyroid hormone production, including TSH, T3, and T4. It helps regulate the enzymes required to make thyroid hormone and helps convert T4 to T3. Zinc deficiency is linked to hypothyroidism and Hashimoto's. Zinc deficiency may be part of why thinning hair is a common symptom of hypothyroidism.
Like selenium, zinc is a trace mineral, and they work together to support your thyroid. So supplementation with both can help your thyroid function. As mentioned earlier, zinc levels must be balanced with copper, so too much or too little of one can lead to issues with the other.
The RDA for zinc is 8 mg/day for women and many women enjoy doses up to 30 mg/day for acute periods of time under the guidance of a practitioner, but if you take zinc supplements, you also need to make sure you get extra copper too.
Iron is a mineral involved in many processes in the body, including thyroid function. It's needed to make thyroid hormone, and low levels can lead to hypothyroidism. Iron is also required for T4 to T3 conversion.
Anemia is common with hypothyroidism, but anemia can also impair thyroid function, so it's a vicious cycle.
The best way to get iron is from food, and the best sources are animal-based foods like red meat, organ meat, and seafood. However, just because meat provides the highly absorbable form of iron, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is always better for women's health. When choosing plant-based non-heme iron it is important to combine it with adequate vitamin C foods to enhance absorption, since iron from these sources tend to be less bioavailable. The RDA for iron is 18 mg/day before menopause and 8mg/day for postmenopausal women. If you are supplementing with iron, make sure to do so under the care of a healthcare professional.
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Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that support gut health. Since the gut and thyroid are closely connected, probiotics can be helpful for those with Hashimoto's or other thyroid conditions. Probiotics can help address intestinal permeability and support autoimmunity.
By supporting gut health and intestinal permeability, you can help lower inflammation and improve nutrient availability, both so important for thyroid health and reducing thyroid antibodies.
You can get probiotics from supplements or fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha.
Thyroid Supplements to Avoid
When it comes to supplements of any kind, you want to be careful about what you take and make sure it's high quality. This is especially important with thyroid supplements.
Kitchen sink supplements (meaning the company throws in every nutrient you can think of) can sometimes contain unsafe ingredients. They may also include glandular (dried and powdered animal glands) that aren't obvious on the label or can contain contaminants. Plus, not all forms of iodine, selenium or other nutrients are created equal.
They also may contain nutrients that aren't in the correct ratios, and as you just learned, too much isn't always a good thing. When you purchase a thyroid supplement, make sure you trust the company, and that the ingredients are high quality. When in doubt, always ask your healthcare professional for a recommendation.
The Best Foods to Support Thyroid Health
Supporting thyroid with food along with supplements is the best way to go. Food provides all the nutrients mentioned above, plus they're delicious! Here are some of the best foods to eat for thyroid health:
- Nuts and seeds
- Beans and legumes
- Leafy greens
- Coconut oil
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Fermented foods
You can read more about the best foods for thyroid health here.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Thyroid Supplements
Are Thyroid Supplements Effective?
Yes, in combination with other lifestyle approaches like diet, stress management, and sleep, thyroid supplements are effective, as evidenced by many research studies. You want to make sure you're taking high-quality supplements and working with a healthcare professional to ensure they're right for you.
How Can I Boost my Thyroid Naturally?
There are many ways to support your thyroid health naturally. In addition to supplements, you want to make sure you're eating a nutritious diet, managing stress, and getting enough sleep. Exercise is also beneficial for overall health, including thyroid health.
What Vitamin Is Not Good for Thyroid?
While it's not technically a vitamin, high-dose iodine is not great for thyroid health and can actually be harmful. Iodine is an essential nutrient for thyroid function, but you want to make sure you're getting it from food or a supplement in the right dosage. Too much iodine can lead to thyroid dysfunction and even autoimmune disease.
- Multiple nutrients can support thyroid health, and supplements can be an effective way to get these nutrients.
- Proper amounts and ratios are essential when taking thyroid supplements, and it's best to work with a healthcare professional to ensure you're taking the right amounts.
- When purchasing a thyroid supplement, make sure you trust the company, and that the ingredients are high quality.
- Supporting thyroid health requires a holistic approach, including eating a nutritious diet, managing stress, getting enough sleep, and exercising.
If you're looking for an easy way to get all the nutrients you need for thyroid health, check out my Thyroid Support Kit, designed to nourish and support thyroid function.
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