Hypothyroidism, commonly called underactive thyroid, is when your thyroid fails to produce certain hormones, thus upsetting the usual balance of chemical reactions in your body. One of the main jobs of the thyroid is to control metabolism so this condition often manifests as slow metabolism. Symptoms of this condition will take some time to appear but if left untreated can become severe.
Symptoms generally start with feelings of fatigue and weight gain and these are often overlooked. As the condition progresses, your thyroid is tasked with supplying more and more hormones so may cause an enlargement of your thyroid, resulting in a goiter. You may also begin to have more noticeable symptoms, including the following:
Over time, as the condition remains untreated, these symptoms will become more noticeable and severe. Myxedema, or severely advanced hypothyroidism, is very rare but can be life threatening. The symptoms include decreased breathing and body temperature, unresponsiveness and eventually coma.
It is important to see your doctor if you suspect you may have hypothyroidism as the condition is easily diagnosed and treated. Traditionally, the disease would be treated with synthetic hormones, specifically levothyroxine, but these medications have unwanted side effects. These can be mild, such as an allergic reaction resulting in hives, breathing difficulty, swelling of tongue, neck, throat and face, and mild hair loss.
There can also be serious side effects such as irregular or fast heartbeat, hot flashes or fever, changes in sleep, diarrhea, changes in menstruation, vomiting, changes in appetite and weight. There are also various people that should not take levothyroxine due to health concerns. For those who are unable to, or choose not to, take levothyroxine, there are alternatives available. Certain vitamins and minerals play an important role in the underlying cause of hypothyroidism. By ensuring a proper balance of these vitamins and minerals, you may be able to manage the condition without synthetic hormones.
This mineral is not made by the body so must come from diet. It is used by the thyroid to make hormones so the thyroid will be unable to do so without an adequate supply. It is best to get iodine from food sources as too much can cause problems. The best source is iodized table salt. For those on a low sodium diet, try dairy products, seafood, meat, eggs and certain breads.
This vitamin interacts with the thyroid in many ways and so is an important part of the equation. The best option is to take a multivitamin with the B-12 complex. You may also look towards foods high in B vitamin; these include fish, seeds, milk, dark leafy greens, whole grains, legumes, nuts, yogurt, meat and eggs.
This is another mineral that is not naturally found in the body so must come from our food or supplementation. Foods rich in selenium include certain fish, some meats, eggs, and shitake mushrooms. For supplementation, look for 100 to 200mg daily.
This is another important mineral, and can be obtained through food or supplementation. In supplement form, 30mg is sufficient. For food sources, look to shellfish, mollusks, legumes, nuts and meat.
This is an amino acid so is part of protein. In order to ensure you are getting enough, make certain 10-35% of your daily calories are coming from protein.
There is a correlation between Vitamin D deficiency and hypothyroidism so make certain to get your daily-recommended amount. It can be found in products fortified with Vitamin D such as milk, yogurt and orange juice. Vitamin D supplementation may also be recommended, check with your doctor.
The bacteria in your gut play a crucial role in many processes throughout your body so you want to ensure a good balance. Don’t go for maximum numbers of probiotics but rather maximum variety and switch often.
Through a healthy diet and proper thyroid supplementation, in consultation with your doctor, you may be able to control your hypothyroidism, without harmful synthetic hormones.