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Author: Eric Madrid (Eric Madrid), doctor

In this article:

  • Selenium
  • Iodine
  • Iron
  • Vitamin D
  • Zinc

The thyroid gland is one of the most misunderstood glands in the human body. This small gland shaped butterfly located at the front of the neck, produces hormones that communicate with every cell in the human body. Thyroid hormones also affect the speed of the metabolism which had a critical impact on body weight. There are various health disorders that occur due to abnormal thyroid activity, but regular physical activity, combined with adequate intake of vitamin A and zinc, helps the body cells to respond to these hormones.

What can go wrong with the thyroid gland?

According to some estimates, abnormalities of the thyroid gland, which affect millions of Americans and hundreds of millions of people around the world. Two common problems related to hormones are hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. If the thyroid gland produces too many hormones, it is believed that in humans, an overactive thyroid gland or hyperthyroidism (which accounts for less than 10 per cent of abnormalities of thyroid hormones). If the thyroid gland produces too little hormone, it is believed that in humans, low thyroid — hypothyroidism. This article will focus on the prevention and treatment of people with insufficient activity of the thyroid gland, which affects up to 10 percent of the population of the globe.

Terms you should know

TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone): produced in the pituitary gland located in the brain. This hormone stimulates the thyroid gland in the neck on the production of thyroid hormones.

Hormone T4: the main hormone produced by a healthy thyroid gland. T4 is also available as a pharmaceutical drug called levothyroxine. T4 must be converted to the active hormone T3. This conversion occurs in the thyroid gland, liver, intestine, brain, and muscles.

Hormone T4: hormone produced from T4 hormone needs minerals such as zinc and selenium. T3 — the active thyroid hormone that sends signals to cells and controls the metabolism in the body.

Hormone reverse T3: reverse T3 is a hormone produced of the hormone T4, is the “opposite” hormone T3, but generally inactive. During times of stress, injury, kidney disease and infection, the body replaces the production of active T3 hormone production of the inactive reverse T3 hormone.

The causes of insufficient activity of the thyroid gland

Worldwide the main cause of the insufficient activity of the thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) is a deficiency of iodine. According to estimates, every third person in the world consumes insufficient iodine. As a result many of them are goiter (enlarged thyroid gland) or nodes appear on the thyroid gland. According to the study, the results of which were published in Endocrine Reviews, the lack of iodine is widespread in Africa and South Asia, however, 50% of the people in Europe also there is a shortage of this element.

A study of pregnant women in Norway, held in 2018 and described in the journal Nutrients showed that up to 55 percent of women characterized by an optimal intake of iodine in the diet. According to the Australian thyroidological Fund, “it has been proven that more than 50% of children and pregnant or breastfeeding women living in Australia suffer from iodine deficiency”.

In addition, the study of the publication Thyroid, conducted in 2011, showed that almost 10 percent of people in the United States have moderate or severe iodine deficiency. Based on the data, I believe that a further 5 to 10 percent suffer from this deficit in a weak degree. Thus, every fifth person in the United States suffers from a lack of iodine.

Typically, the people of Japan have a higher level of iodine compared with other countries in connection with the regular consumption of wakame (undarii), standards (porphyries) and kombu (kelp), seaweed species, having protective properties.

The second leading cause of insufficient thyroid activity is associated with autoimmune attack on the thyroid gland. In this situation, certain antibodies (called anti-TPO and antithyroglobulin) attack the thyroid gland, which leads to the inability of the thyroid gland to produce enough thyroid hormone T4. In 1912, the most common autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis in honor of Dr. Hakar Hashimoto from Japan.

According to Dr. Dana Lucatero (Dan Lukaczer) from the Institute for functional medicine other factors that can affect adequate active thyroid include stress, trauma, infections, exposure to pesticides and fluoride, and celiac disease.

Most doctors diagnose underactive thyroid gland, when a laboratory test of TSH (0,4 -4,0 Miu/l) increased. This increase indicates that the brain produces extra amount of the hormone TSH in attempt to stimulate the production of the T4 hormone by the thyroid gland. Many practitioners of integrative approach, I believe that the optimal range of TSH in the blood is from 0.4 to 2.0 Miu/L.

Signs and symptoms of hypoactive (hypothyroid) state

  • Increased damage
  • Constipation
  • Symptoms of depression
  • Dry skin
  • High cholesterol
  • Thinning or loss of eyebrows (outer third)
  • Fatigue
  • Nails become more fragile and brittle than before
  • Goiter
  • Thinning and hair loss
  • Low libido
  • Problems with memory and cognitive impairment
  • Menstrual disorders
  • Puffiness around the eyes
  • Slowed reflexes
  • The nodes in the thyroid gland
  • Weight gain

Risk factors for development of thyroid dysfunction

  • Women at risk of thyroid dysfunction more frequently than men.
  • Iodine deficiency
  • Autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Gluten intolerance without celiac disease
  • The syndrome of increased intestinal permeability

How to prevent thyroid dysfunction

First of all, to ensure adequate intake of iodine in the diet. According to the Center for the prevention and control of diseases”, the median intake of iodine from food in the United States ranges from 240 to 300 micrograms (mcg) per day for men and 190 to 210 µg/day for women.” 2001 the Institute of medicine recommended that “consumption of 150 µg of iodine per day for pregnant adult women, 220 micrograms daily for pregnant women and 290 mcg daily during lactation”. Low levels of iodine is also associated with learning difficulties in children.

List of foods with rich iodine content (per serving):

  • Common bean (32 g)
  • Cod (99 mcg of iodine in 3 g of fish)
  • Eggs (24 µg of iodine per 1 egg)
  • Iodized salt (71 g)
  • Lobsters (100 g)
  • Milk (56 mcg)
  • Pineapples (45 mcg)
  • Potatoes (60 mcg)
  • Prunes (13 mcg of iodine per 5 g of prunes)
  • Seaweed (from 16 to 2900 g)
  • Shrimp (35 mcg of iodine in 3 oz/85 g)
  • Strawberry (13 g)
  • Turkey breast (34 g)
  • Yogurt (75 mcg of iodine)

Optimizing gut health is also crucial for thyroid health. Patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome should focus on addressing the leaky gut that will help to ensure adequate absorption of vitamins and minerals. Studies show that individuals sensitive to gluten are at increased risk of thyroid disease. In addition, a healthy digestive system and a balanced microbiome is important to ensure adequate reaction of the immune system which contributes to the prevention of autoimmune diseases of the thyroid gland. Few people realize that 80 percent of our immune system is in our gut.

Traditional therapy

Over the last century modern medicine has made great progress. However, the term “goiter” is used to describe the increase in thyroid cancer for thousands of years.

In 40 BC the best minds of Rome, Pliny, Vitruvius and Juvenal describe the treatment of goiter with the use of burnt seaweed, which we now know contain lots of iodine. In 1500 ad, Leonardo da Vinci was the first person who drew the thyroid gland in the form of butterflies, in addition to picture in detail all the organs of the human body.

In 1656 Thomas Wharton named the gland the first “thyroid gland”, the word comes from the Greek word thureoeidēs, or shield. In 1820, almost 200 years later, the Frenchman Jean-françois Cointe used the newly opened iodine to treat goiter.

In late 1890-ies for the treatment of not enough active thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) was first used with dry formulas, containing both the hormones T4 and T3 hormones. According to studies, four out of five prescriptions for treatment of the thyroid gland in the 1960-ies included products with natural complex (T4/T3), whereas in 1988 the drug of natural origin contained in every fourth recipe. Since the tendency of most doctors was the appointment of synthetic levothyroxine, the formula of which contains only T4. In 1955, the market was brand Synthroid (levothyroxine).

Currently, traditional medicine has done little for the treatment of people suffering from Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Most doctors are trained to simply allow the thyroid to “burn out”. When this happens and tests show abnormally elevated TSH, they prescribe medication from the thyroid gland as described above. Many practitioners of integrative approach, we suggest to control the Hashimoto’s thyroiditis to cure the root cause increased intestinal permeability.

Drug therapy for treatment of thyroid

Levothyroxine (hormone T4, synthroid) — is taken once a day

Liothyronine (a T3 hormone, cytomel) is taken once a day

The combination of the hormones T4/T3 — to be taken once or twice a day

Nutrition and supplements for a healthy thyroid gland

A study conducted in 2017, showed that people with higher intakes of fruits, vegetables and seeds has lower chance of developing autoimmune thyroid disease. Such a diet also helps to optimize the microbiome of the intestine and to maintain balance.

The following nutrients are important and help in the production of thyroid hormones. They may be present in a well-balanced diet or be consumed in the form of a high-quality multivitamin or individual supplements if necessary. There are also different formulas, supplements for the thyroid gland, which contain many of the following compounds in one capsule.


The cofactor of two enzymes that help to produce thyroid hormones. According to a 2014 study that is described in the journal International journal of Endocrinology, selenium can reduce the production of antibodies, TPO in autoimmune attack. In addition, selenium is needed to convert the hormone T4 to the active hormone T3. Recommended dose: 200 mcg per day.


Worldwide iodine deficiency is the main cause of goiter, the nodes in the thyroid gland and not enough active thyroid. It is recommended to have a diet with a high content of iodine (see above list of products). The preferred method of testing for iodine deficiency, according to the world health organization (who), is to collect a urine sample at random (in the morning).

According to the who standards, less than 100 µg/l of iodine is considered to be insufficient. Recommended dose: take supplements of multivitamins and minerals, containing at least 150 micrograms of iodine. Some take supplements containing iodine or kelp to support healthy iodine levels. Intake of iodine should not exceed 500 mcg per day. Excess iodine may worsen thyroid condition.


Iron deficiency is common among menstruating women. According to the study in 2016, is described in the publication Thyroid, iron deficiency impairs thyroid metabolism. The authors recommended that clinicians check the iron levels to fill the gaps. The target level of iron is 50-75 ng/ml and above. Recommended dose: in accordance with the doctor’s recommendations or as specified on the label.

Vitamin D

Eighty percent of people worldwide suffer from vitamin D deficiency . Studies have shown that people with low levels of this vitamin are at increased risk of various cancers and autoimmune diseases, including autoimmune disease of the thyroid gland. A study conducted in 2018 with the participation of adults with obesity, showed that people with lower vitamin D levels there is an increased risk of developing Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Recommended dose: 1000-5000 IU per day.


According to the journal of Nutrition, nearly 45 percent of Americans have insufficient intake of zinc in your diet. Worldwide, more than 15 percent of people suffer from zinc deficiency. This problem is very common in countries of Africa South of the Sahara and South Asia.

With age the absorption of important minerals such as zinc, is disturbed. In addition, a diet with inadequate intake of zinc-containing products, and regular consumption of alcohol can also lead to chronically low levels of zinc. Zinc deficiency is associated with diseases of the thyroid, skin, and blood, and also with an increased risk of infection. Zinc also plays an important role in brain health, where his level is 10 times greater than in the blood.

Zinc is essential enzymes in the brain and throughout the body. He is involved in more than 300 biochemical reactions and is an essential component of more than 2000 proteins.

Recommended dose: 15-50 mg per day. Zinc is present in most high quality multivitamins.

In addition to the above key nutrients for maintaining the health of the thyroid gland in the diet also needs to include the following:

  • Tyrosine
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
  • Vitamin E (tocopherol)

B vitamins can also be consumed through dietary Supplement with the content of B.


Well-balanced diet is critical to thyroid health. The attention given to the microbiome of the gut is more important than most people think. Important exclusion from the diet products that cause digestive problems. In addition, to optimize the health of the thyroid gland should also consider receiving a high-quality probiotic. Focusing on nutrition and providing the body with all necessary vitamins and minerals through diet and supplements can help to optimize the health of the thyroid gland. Before you make any changes to the current treatment of the thyroid gland, consult your doctor.


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  • Nutrients. 2018 Feb 28;10(3). pii: E280. doi: 10.3390/nu10030280.
  • Site accessed March 3, 2018 regarding iodine deficiency in Australia. https://www.thyroidfoundation.org.au/page/13/iodine-nutrition-iodine-deficiency
  • Thyroid. 2011 Apr;21(4):419-27. doi: 10.1089/thy.2010.0077. (Note: Iodine deficiency in the United States is higher than 10% of the population. I suspect upwards towards 20% using the WHO urinary value of 100 mg/L or less being deficient)
  • Accessed July 14, 2018 https://www.cdc.gov/nutritionreport/99-02/pdf/nr_ch4a.pdf
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  • The author of this article — doctor Eric Madrid, a member of the American Council on integrative and holistic medicine, certified American Board of family medicine and the American Council on integrative and holistic medicine. He is the author of “the purpose of the vitamin D, the healing energy of the sun.” Eric Madrid graduated from medical school at Ohio State University. He is a partner of Rancho Family Medical Group and is accepting patients in Menifee, California. More information about Dr. Madrid here.