The 9 Best Foods for Your Thyroid

Woman getting a thyroid checkup

Thyroid problems affects millions of people around the world, including those in industrialized countries such as the United States. The conditions resulting from thyroid problems can be extremely serious. As a regulator of hormone production and metabolism, the thyroid needs to function properly to maintain good health. The good news is, there are nutritional steps you can take to help support your thyroid.

The thyroid needs very specific nutrients to maintain proper function. First and foremost is iodine. Selenium has also been recognized recently as a necessary component of thyroid health. [1] Iron and zinc have also been recognized as important elements for thyroid function. [2] [3]

The following 10 foods provide quality dietary sources of these necessary elements. They also include complete nutritional content including quality protein, high quantities of necessary vitamins (such as B vitamins needed in hormone production), antioxidants and more!

1. Dulse Seaweed

Sea vegetables are a great source of iodine and dulse seaweed has been found to offer the most consistent and highest concentrations of iodine. [4] This purple-brown sea vegetable is full of potassium and is an excellent source of protein. (In addition to dulse seaweed, arame, kombu, nori, sea palm and wakame are also quality iodine and nutrient sources.)

2. Fish

Fish is a great source of dietary iodine, plus the amazing benefits of omega-3 fatty acids which have been found to contribute to a healthy heart. Deep sea fish such as cod and haddock contain the highest densities of dietary iodine.

3. Coconut Oil

Coconuts are an excellent food all around, and the oil from coconut has been used as a healing food for a long time. Coconut oil contains essential fatty acids needed for proper metabolic function. These fatty acids are easily assimilated by the body and contribute to thyroid function, thyroid hormone production and regulating the metabolism.

4. Beans

Beans are a good source of zinc and iron. They also provide quality proteins and are an excellent source of B vitamins and vitamin C.

5. Dairy

In this category, eggs would be the best source for iodine as they contain nearly 16% of the recommended daily value. A recent study of US schoolchildren found that general dairy intake including milks, yogurts, and cheese contributed to healthy iodine levels. [5] Although dairy isn’t part of my personal diet, many other people include it in theirs; I would encourage you to select products made from organic, vegetarian-fed, free range animals.

6. Liver and Kidney Meat

Although not appropriate for vegans or vegetarians, these organ meats, especially beef liver, provide iron, zinc and selenium as well as high-quality proteins. They also provide a more complete, nutrient-dense source of calcium, potassium, Vitamins A, C and D, and the B vitamins than most fruits and vegetables. Again, if you go this route, select products from organic, vegetarian-fed animals.

7. Almonds

While most nuts are an excellent source of proteins, minerals, vitamins and fiber, almonds provide a potent source of nutrients needed by the thyroid. Almonds combine quality values of iron, selenium and zinc with essential B vitamins and high protein content.

8. Turkey

For a lean protein source, turkey is an excellent source of selenium. It also contains iron and essential amino acids.

9. Dark Green Leafy Vegetables

Why choose one when any of the dark leafy veggies will work? Spinach, kale, collard greens, swiss chard, mustard or turnip greens are all a great source of iron, B vitamins (needed for hormone creation), Vitamins A, C and D, magnesium and their incredible antioxidants. These superfoods not only supply the nutrients the thyroid needs, they also help protect overall health.

Did I miss one? What’s your favorite? Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts or recipes with us!

- Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

References:

  1. Drutel A, Archambeaud F, Caron P. Selenium and the thyroid gland: more good news for clinicians. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2013 Feb;78(2):155-64. doi: 10.1111/cen.12066.
  2. Fal’fushyns’ka HI, Hnatyshyna LL, Ocadchuk DV, Shidlovs’ky? VO, Stoliar OB. [Metal-binding functions and antioxidant properties in human thyroid gland under iodine deficient nodular colloidal goiter]. Ukr Biokhim Zh. 2011 Nov-Dec;83(6):92-7.
  3. Ravanbod M, Asadipooya K, Kalantarhormozi M, Nabipour I, Omrani GR. Treatment of iron-deficiency anemia in patients with subclinical hypothyroidism. Am J Med. 2013 May;126(5):420-4. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2012.12.009.
  4. Domínguez-González R, Romarís-Hortas V, García-Sartal C, Moreda-Piñeiro A, Barciela-Alonso Mdel C, Bermejo-Barrera P. Evaluation of an in vitro method to estimate trace elements bioavailability in edible seaweeds. Talanta. 2010 Oct 15;82(5):1668-73. doi: 10.1016/j.talanta.2010.07.043. Epub 2010 Jul 24.
  5. Perrine CG, Sullivan KM, Flores R, Caldwell KL, Grummer-Strawn LM. Intakes of dairy products and dietary supplements are positively associated with iodine status among U.S. children. J Nutr. 2013 Jul;143(7):1155-60. doi: 10.3945/jn.113.176289. Epub 2013 May 22.

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