Our precious thyroid - possibly more precious than many realise! So, we are excited to delve into this critical topic with you via an interesting read into the realm of thyroid health as we uncover the importance of key nutrients that are vital for supporting and maintaining optimal thyroid function. The thyroid, often referred to as the “third ovary”, is a small but incredibly important gland that orchestrates a symphony of crucial metabolic processes within the body.
The thyroid influences many vital functions such as hormone production, reproductive health, body temperature regulation, metabolic rate, cardiac output, brain development, muscle control and strength, and bone health - just to name a few! As you can see, your thyroid function can truly depict whether your health is thriving or whether it’s not.
This is an incredibly interesting but also incredibly BIG topic, but today we will touch on the nuanced world of nutrients like iodine (the thyroids loyal companion), tyrosine (iodines bestie), selenium (The Antioxidant Ally), vitamin A (The Illuminator), zinc (The Hormone Cheerleader), and iron (The Enzyme Fuel), and their profound impact on thyroid function.
Iodine: The Loyal Companion
Iodine, an essential trace mineral, takes centre stage when it comes to thyroid health. The thyroid depends on iodine to create thyroid hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Without sufficient iodine, the thyroid's ability to produce these hormones is compromised, which can lead to disorders such as goitre and hypothyroidism.
Iodine-rich foods: Australian grown seaweed (kelp, dulse, nori), pasture-raised eggs, line-caught seafood, organic dairy products, grass-fed beef liver.
Tyrosine: Iodines Bestie
Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid that is made from another amino acid, phenylalanine, and is involved in the creation of many important neurotransmitters and hormones. The body uses tyrosine in combination with iodine to create thyroid hormones.
Tyrosine-rich foods: grass-fed beef skirt steak, pasture-raised pork chops and chicken, organic fermented tofu, organic dairy (ricotta cheese), white beans, wild rice and pumpkin seeds.
Selenium: The Antioxidant Ally
Selenium is a vital component of selenoproteins, which regulate thyroid hormone synthesis, conversion of T4 to T3, and overall antioxidant defence. This mineral acts as a potent antioxidant, safeguarding the thyroid gland from oxidative stress.
Selenium-rich foods: organic Brazil nuts, pasture-raised pork and poultry, grass-fed red meat and organ meats (liver), line caught seafood and sunflower seeds.
Vitamin A: The Illuminator
This fat-soluble vitamin plays a crucial role in the synthesis and activation of thyroid hormones, regulating hormone metabolism, and can inhibit thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) secretion. It increases cellular sensitivity to thyroid hormones and also aids in the maintenance of healthy thyroid tissue.
Vitamin A and beta-carotene-rich foods: grass-fed beef liver, organic raw dairy, pasture-raised eggs, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables such as carrot, sweet potato, mangoes, pumpkin, squash, capsicum, etc.
Zinc: The Hormone Cheerleader
Zinc, a trace mineral with a long list of bodily functions, is crucial for the conversion of inactive T4 to the active T3, whilst helping regulate thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH) and TSH. Thyroid hormones also influence zinc metabolism and absorption, hence why many thyroid conditions can have an underlying zinc deficiency.
Zinc-rich foods: oysters, line-caught seafood, grass-fed meats and organ meats (liver), nuts, seeds and legumes.
Iron: The Enzyme Fuel
Iron, an essential mineral vital for countless reasons, also plays a large role in thyroid health. Iron is necessary for the conversion of T3 from T4, via thyroid peroxidase (TPO), which is a heme-dependent protein/enzyme.
Iron-rich foods (heme and non-heme): grass-fed red meat and organs (lamb, goat, kangaroo, beef, liver, spleen), legumes (beans, peas, lentils), seafood (sardines and octopus), some grains (quinoa, millet, amaranth), organic dried apricots and plums, nuts (pine nuts, cashews, almonds), seeds (chia, flax and poppy), cacao powder, pasture-raised egg yolk, dark leafy greens.
The Key Takeaway: A Balanced Diet, not forgetting the crucial missing links
While iodine, tyrosine, selenium, vitamin A, zinc, and iron are key players in supporting thyroid health, it's essential to emphasise the importance of a balanced and varied diet. By incorporating a wide range of nutrient-dense foods, particularly an abundance of the ones listed in this article, you can provide your body with the array of these vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants it needs to maintain optimal thyroid function. Food diversity not only improves nutritional status but improves the gut microbiome, which also plays a large role in optimal thyroid function - so many components come into play!
Some other thyroid-supporting nutrients are also vitamin D, B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants like vitamin C and E. These nutrients work synergistically to promote thyroid health, support immune function, and combat inflammation.
As with any dietary considerations, it is recommended to consult with your preferred healthcare professional for personalised advice based on your individual needs and health status. If you are in any way concerned about the health of your thyroid, ensure your preferred practitioner considers thorough testing (full thyroid panel and antibodies).
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