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Thyroid Health And Supplements: What to Know

Thyroid Health And Supplements: What to Know

Thyroid Health And Supplements: What to Know

Our thyroid is a crucial organ secreting hormones and whose disturbances can seriously affect our health. Whether it is hypothyroidism, caused by under-activity of the thyroid gland, hyperthyroidism, linked to overactivity of this gland, or several categories of thyroiditis, these conditions often lead to a significant change in many others.

Functions of our organism. Also, we invite you to understand the processes of this organ, its primary disorders, how to prevent them, and what may be the appropriate natural solutions to support the functioning of your thyroid.

Some animal and test-tube research suggests that omega-3 fats, curcumin, L-carnitine, quercetin, melatonin, resveratrol, selenium, inositol, zinc, and vitamins C, E, A, and D may benefit those with thyroid cancer.

Food plays a role in thyroid dysfunction. What are the recommended foods? Which ones to avoid? What to eat in case of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism? List of the best nutrition and advice from Dr. Jean-Marc Comas, endocrinologist, and author of “Planète Thyroid

According to the Thyroid Foundation, 200 million people around the world are affected by a thyroid disorder. This tiny gland located in the front part of the neck – in front of the vocal cords – ensures the well-being of our vital functions. 

When she walks in slow motion (we speak of hypothyroidism ) or that she gets carried away (we speak of hyperthyroidism ), the capital form may decrease, may alter sleep, weight may vary, transit and mood can fluctuate. 

Apart from the central treatments, the diet also plays a role in regulating the thyroid. What are the recommended foods? On the contrary, those prohibited? Update on good nutrition with Dr. Jean-Marc Comas, endocrinologist, and diabetologist.

Hypothyroidism and Nutrition: What You Need to Know

Hypothyroidism is a condition that affects up to 5% of the North American and European population. Postmenopausal women are the most affected by this disease. 

Thyroid Health And Supplements
Thyroid Health And Supplements

There are several dietary myths surrounding thyroid function. Here is the real-time on the subject.


The thyroid is an endocrine gland located at the front of the neck. It secretes two hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).

These hormones regulate body functions, including fat and carbohydrate metabolism, respiration, body temperature, brain development, cholesterol levels, heart, nervous system, blood calcium levels, menstrual cycle, and skin integrity.


Hypothyroidism is a disorder that occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones for the body’s needs. It is most often caused by an autoimmune response known as Hashimoto’s disease. Lack of thyroid hormones slows down metabolism and can lead to various symptoms that vary from person to person, including weight gain, fatigue, dry skin and hair, and trouble concentrating.

Additionally, people with hypothyroidism have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. IT is because lowered levels of thyroid hormones can increase LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, homocysteine ​​level (a marker of inflammation) and can affect carbohydrate metabolism.

Types of Food to Increase Immunity


In most people, hypothyroidism causes weight gain as well as difficulty losing weight until hormone levels stabilize. The lack of hormones decreases the basal metabolism, that is to say, that one burns fewer calories while resting. It may therefore be necessary to reduce your calorie intake.

To do this, we recommend limiting liquid calories (alcohol and sugary drinks) and consuming at least 3 cups of vegetables per day. If needed, snacks rich in fiber and protein can be incorporated to promote satiety and thus reduce the size of your portions at the next meal.

Another way to compensate for the decrease in metabolism is to move more. In addition to increasing calorie expenditure, physical activity can help counter fatigue. If fatigue remains a barrier to exercise, a pedometer can be used as a source of motivation to be more active during activities of daily living.

Do not neglect stress and sleep, which also influence the management of body weight. In short, it is essential to adopt healthy lifestyle habits such as a balanced diet, regular physical activity, good stress management, and adequate sleep.

Diet: what impact on the thyroid?

The thyroid is a gland located in the neck that secretes thyroid hormones containing iodine, an essential element for the thyroid and production. They are necessary for primary metabolism, regulation of body temperature, reproduction, growth, blood cell production, and the development of the nervous system and muscle function. 

Many symptoms may appear if it shows a dysfunction, such as weight gain or loss, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, fatigue, or even memory loss. “Certain thyroid disorders require you to review some of your eating habits. 

Indeed, a specific diet adapted to each pathology will stabilize your thyroid hormone requirements “, explains Jean-Marc Comas. It is particularly the case of some trace elements such as iodineselenium, or zinc, including thyroid needs to manufacture and regulate her hormones, T3 and T4 in particular.”

What are the recommended foods?

► Foods rich in iodine

The foods to promote in case of thyroid dysfunction contain the most iodine, a substance that is part of the composition of thyroid hormones. ” An essential element for our body, we must consume neither too much nor too little, “specifies the expert. The average daily requirement for an adult is 150 μg

Iodine is a vital nutrient and essential for thyroid function. While autoimmune diseases are the leading cause of thyroid dysfunction in North America and Europe, iodine deficiency is the leading cause worldwide. Iodine deficiency is rarer in industrialized countries, mainly due to the use of iodine fortified salt.

The daily iodine requirement is 150 μg for adults and 220 and 290 μg for pregnant and lactating women. The best way to meet your iodine needs is to eat a varied and balanced diet. Iodized salt contains about 90 μg of iodine per ¼ teaspoon (1.5 g), but the amount varies between brands.

Fish, dairy products, and plants are grown in soil rich in iodine are also excellent sources of iodine. For example, 90 g (3 oz) of cooked cod provides about 100 μg, and 250 mL (1 cup) of milk provides 55 μg. It should note that excessive iodine intake can reduce the function of the thyroid gland. So, taking iodine supplements with antithyroid drugs can have an additive effect and cause hypothyroidism.

The foods richest in iodine are:

  1. Seafood and shellfish: once a week
  2. Fish (smoked haddock, cod, sardines, herring): once or twice a week
  3. Some seaweed (wakame, nori)
  4. Certain vegetables (spinach, watercress): every day if possible
  5. Eggs
  6. Cereals (rye, oats)
  7. Dairy products
  8. The dried fruit

>> Be careful; an excess of iodine can trigger or worsen hyperthyroidism. But, generally, a quantity of iodine does not come from the food but from drugs that contain iodine and contrast products, very rich in iodine, which is injected during specific imaging examinations. 

Foods rich in iodine

  • Iodine is a trace element essential for your health which is contained in food in small quantities. Some foods are better suppliers than others. Which? Zoom in on these.

► Foods rich in selenium

Another trace element to promote is selenium (a maximum daily requirement for an adult: 100 μg), an excellent antioxidant and essential for the thyroid gland’s activity. Selenium is found almost everywhere in our food, particularly in products of animal origin (meats, offal, cold cuts, cheeses, fish, shellfish, etc.), especially egg yolks.

Selenium is an essential trace element integral to thyroid function. The selenium requirement in adults is 55 μg per day. The selenium content of foods of plant origin depends on the amount of selenium in the soil of a given region.

In North America and Europe, it is rarely necessary to use a selenium supplement since our needs are primarily met through food. Wheat grown in North America is a good source of selenium.

In Canada, all farm animals receive supplemental selenium in their diet. Fish, seafood, and certain nuts (Brazil nuts and Grenoble nuts) are also excellent sources of selenium. For example, 6 to 8 Brazil nuts provide about 840 μg of selenium,

The foods highest in selenium are:

  1. Algae (Royal Kombu, Spider Crab)
  2. Fish (tuna, anglerfish, mullet, cod, swordfish, saithe)
  3. Duck liver
  4. Cod liver 
  5. Brazil nut
  6. The egg yolk

What are the benefits of selenium?

  • Selenium is a trace element with antioxidant power essential for the proper functioning of your body. However, it would help if you used it with some caution. What are its properties, and at what dose?

► Foods rich in zinc

” The zinc, trace mineral antioxidant is also of interest for thyroid metabolism. Many foods are filled as oysters, organ meats, red meat, wholemeal bread, and eggs,” says an endocrinologist.

The foods richest in zinc are:

  1. Oyster
  2. Wheat germ
  3. Beef or veal shank
  4. Sesame
  5. Poppy seeds

Foods rich in zinc: list, benefits, how to avoid deficiency?

  • Zinc strengthens immunity. Like vitamin D, it is a beneficial trace element during this time of the Covid-19 epidemic. Which foods are richest in zinc? Where to find it if you are a vegetarian? What is the recommended dose per day? Advice from nutritionist Raphaël Gruman.

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Soybeans and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage are potentially goitrogenic foods, meaning they can disrupt the functioning of the thyroid gland.

Regarding cruciferous vegetables, it has been documented that the risks that their ingestion could alter thyroid function are low if iodine intake is adequate. So there is no need to avoid them. It should also note that heating cruciferous vegetables inactivate their potential goitrogenic effects.

About soy, in the absence of an abnormality of the thyroid gland, the risks that its ingestion could alter thyroid function are low. However, the effects of soy consumption in people with hypothyroidism remain controversial. 

One study observed a three-fold higher risk of developing overt hypothyroidism with a vegetarian diet (16 mg per day of soy phytoestrogens) compared to a Western diet (2 mg per day of soy phytoestrogens) in patients with subclinical hypothyroidism. 

In a more recent study, a very high pharmacological dose of soy phytoestrogens (66 mg per day) did not alter thyroid function in patients with subclinical hypothyroidism. Further studies are therefore needed to understand better the effects of soy consumption on thyroid function in people with hypothyroidism. 

In the meantime, these people should eat soy foods in moderation. It should also note that in the case of medicated hypothyroidism, it is recommended to space the intake of replacement thyroid hormones (Synthroid) and the consumption of soy by a few hours.


Vitamin D deficiency is associated with hypothyroidism. Additionally, untreated hypothyroidism can lead to bone loss which can be made worse by vitamin D deficiency commonly seen in hyperthyroidism. 

The skin mainly synthesizes vitamin D if the latter is sufficiently exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. It is found naturally in very few foods. The only foods that contain it in its natural form are oily fish, shiitake mushrooms, and egg yolks. 

Other sources of vitamin D in our diet come from fortified foods such as milk, margarine, and some plant-based drinks. In North America, during the winter months, the skin is not exposed to enough sunlight to produce enough vitamin D, and it is challenging to meet its vitamin D needs through diet alone. 

Thus, a vitamin D supplement is recommended during the winter months for adults of all ages and all year round for those aged 50 and over.


Studies show that people with hypothyroidism are at a higher risk for vitamin B12 deficiency 3. It is therefore recommended to do an annual blood test to check your blood level of B12. This vitamin is mainly found in animal sources (meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, and eggs).


Soy, coffee, and calcium, and iron supplements, can interfere with the absorption of medications for hypothyroidism ( Synthroid ) 4 . Thus, it is recommended not to consume them at the same time.


SOSCuisine offers menus based on the Mediterranean diet, which can help patients with hypothyroidism to eat according to the recommendations listed above and achieve a healthy weight. 

These menus meet the reference nutritional intakes (DRIs) for iodine, selenium, and vitamin B12 and ensure adequate information of vegetables and dietary fiber to promote satiety and the health of the intestinal microbiota, in addition to being available in a soy-free version.

What foods should be avoided or prohibited?

► Fast sugars:

  1. the biscuits
  2. the candies
  3. the fries
  4. prepared or industrial meals

► Foods that are too aggressive for the thyroid gland:

  1. coffee
  2. tea
  3. Cocoa
  4. the mustard
  5. spices

► “Goitrogenic” foods (which increase the size of the goiter ) :

  1. Brussels sprouts,
  2. cauliflower
  3. kale
  4. broccoli
  5. turnip
  6. the radish
  7. horseradish
  8. mustard seeds
  9. millet
  10. sweet potato
  11. Cassava, which slows down the functioning of the thyroid gland by preventing it from absorbing iodine, even if cooking them well, can slow down their damage.

Goiter: symptoms, causes, the operation to reduce it

  • Goiter is characterized by an increase in the size of the thyroid, a gland whose role is to regulate the body. How to recognize the beginning of goiter? What are the causes of this swelling, and what treatments to reduce it?

Hypothyroidism: List of the Best Foods

Foods rich in iodineCrustaceans, shellfish, seafood, seaweed, spinach, egg, whole grains, dairy products
Foods rich in seleniumSeaweed, fish, liver, Brazil nuts, egg yolk
Foods rich in zincOyster, shank, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, cocoa powder, calf’s liver
Foods rich in vitamin DOils, fatty fish, dark chocolate, avocado

Hyperthyroidism: List of the Best Foods

Foods rich in calciumCheeses, tofu, milk, yogurts
Foods rich in vitamin DFish oils, fatty fish, dark chocolate, avocado
Foods rich in seleniumSeaweed, fish, liver, Brazil nuts, egg yolk
Foods rich in phosphorusRice bran, Fourme d’Ambert, chia seeds, poppy seeds, egg yolk, Beaufort

What food supplements to take in case of thyroid problems?

Some food supplements can help relieve thyroid disease, provided they are always consumed under medical supervision and depending on the type of pathology. Let us retain those which will bring magnesium chloride, selenium, zinc, and vitamin B6, which make it possible to regulate the function of the thyroid.

What are the best herbs for thyroid problems?

The use of phytotherapy (treatment with plants) must always be carried out with a good level of knowledge. Indeed, ” self-medication by plants is undoubtedly interesting for thyroid disorders, but can also lead to severe complications. Among the effective plants, let us quote the lycopene, the hawthorn, or the lemon balm, which make it possible to counter the effects. Hyperthyroidism. In the event of hypothyroidism, medical treatment is more appropriate “, concludes Dr. Comas. 

Thanks to Dr Jean-Marc Comas, endocrinologist, diabetologist and author of “Planète Thyroïde”.