Weight gain. The crazy 25-pounds-within-2-months kind. Exhaustion. The real, in-my-bones, I-can-hardly-stand-in-the-shower kind. Brain fog. The truly-forgetting-what-I-just-said, struggling-to-form-sentences kind. Depression and anxiety. The crippling, I-truly-feel-like-a-shell-of-myself kind.
These are just a few of the symptoms I’ve suffered because of my thyroid issues and you better believe I’ve been fighting hard to find relief. I’ve worked on managing my stress, I’ve adjusted my schedule, I’ve prioritized sleep, I’ve found new forms of exercise, I’ve focused on an anti-inflammatory diet, I’ve taken medication.
I’ve done a lot to support my thyroid, but one critical step I’ve taken is adding in supplements. Today I’m busting open my supplement bin and sharing with you the details behind why I’ve added these 6 supplements in to my routine and how they biochemically work to support my thyroid.
Important and necessary disclosure: I am a nutritionist, but I am not a doctor, and I’m most definitely not your doctor. This is a compilation of research that I’ve used to inform choices I’ve made for my own healing journey, but you should consult your own healthcare team before making any decisions for yourself.
1 // Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha, named Withania somnifera in the technical world, is another plant that’s been used for thousands of years in the Eastern parts of the world. It’s what we call an adaptogen, which means it helps the body adapt to stress and maintain homeostasis despite external or internal stressors. *
It’s been known to have positive impacts on the immune, neurological, endocrine, and reproductive systems, so its benefits are far-reaching, but one specific known use is in supporting healthy thyroid function. * A study conducted in India in 2016 showed improved serum TSH, T3 and T4 levels within the normal range compared to placebo in subclinical hypothyroid patients. *
The word ashwagandha is from Sanskrit- it combines ashva, which means horse, and gandha, which means smell. So yes, that means horse smell. I’m pretty tolerant of earth-tasting goodies at this point, but this herb smells and tastes pretty darn awful. I originally bought the powdered version to put in my coffee each morning, but swapped it out for the capsules from NOW Foods because it was just not worth letting the offensive taste ruin my morning cup of decaf bulletproof superfood perfection.
2 // Adrenal Health Daily Support
A third supplement I added in to support my thyroid was the Adrenal Health Daily Support.
This is another case of asking “what is the root cause of my thyroid underperforming?”
To be honest, a whole year later from my original diagnosis, I’m still searching for the answer to that question, but I know at the time that my adrenals were a big contributing factor.
If you aren’t aware, your adrenals are two small glands located on top of each of your kidneys. They produce important hormones, including aldosterone, adrenaline, some of your sex hormones, and most notably, cortisol. (I talked a lot more about the science behind adrenals in this post about why I gave up caffeine, so check that out for further info.) When you have a lot of stressors in your life (say quitting your job and selling your home, for example), your adrenals produce a lot of cortisol to try to keep up with all the added pressures. This tells other organs of the body to stop working and instead focuses its energy on fighting the stressor at hand. Which is good in short spurts, but chronic stress leads to permanent heightened cortisol levels which leads to the extended suppression of other important systems, like digestion and thyroid function.
Because of this, supporting the adrenals can be a really helpful step to take in supporting an underperforming thyroid. There are many herbs and vitamins to take to support proper adrenal function, but I’ve found this Adrenal Health Daily Support blend from Gaia to be an easy one-stop-shop.
SHOP → Gaia Adrenal Health Daily Support | $18.00 for 120 capsules = $0.15 per capsule
3 // Vitamin D
Truth bomb #6 of this blog post — vitamin D is not a vitamin. It’s actually a fat-soluble steroid hormone. And a hormone that your body actually makes.
Research shows up to 90% of adults in the U.S. have a vitamin D deficiency. Ninety freakin’ percent! That’s not just some of us or most of us but almost all of us! And unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency has been correlated with increased risk of developing cancer, autoimmune diseases, hypertension and other infections. And, you guessed it, decreased thyroid function.
The vitamin D-thyroid connection is insanely complex, but one important piece I’d like to highlight: the metabolic function that happens inside your cells in which thyroid hormone is finally used cannot happen without sufficient vitamin D levels. * Which means, regardless of how well you support your thyroid to produce adequate thyroid hormone, if your vitamin D levels are low, your body can’t use that to carry out the thyroids important functions like metabolism and energy. *
It’s important to note: patients with underactive thyroids also often have issues with absorbing vitamin D taken orally, and the best way to boost vitamin D levels is often through that glorious big ball of light in the sky — the sun. I personally choose to supplement 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 in the months when I’m not getting much sun exposure, and 5,000 IU, along with at least 2 sessions of 15 minutes of bare skin sun exposure per week, in the months I can manage to bask in it.
4 // Thyroid Energy
The Thyroid Energy supplement from NOW Foods was the single thing that caused the biggest marked improvement in the way I felt. I really wish this was the first one I reached for, not one I waited months to try. It was a game changer for me.
Like the Pure Defense, it’s also a blend of nutrients packed into one – all focused on supporting thyroid function. It contains:
- B vitamins that are known to support thyroid function. *
- Iodine which is an essential component of both T3 and T4 thyroid hormones. *
- Selenium, Zinc + Copper, which are known cofactors for thyroid function. *
- L-tyrosine, which is used to make thyroxine, the main hormone the thyroid secretes to control levels of T3 and T4 in the bloodstream.
- Guggul Extract, which is pulled from the Indian myrrh tree, has been linked to supporting the conversion of T4, the inactive form of thyroid hormone, to T3, the active form our cells can actually use. * (I mentioned in a previous post that it took me nearly a year of testing and exploring to finally find that it was this specific conversion that was failing for me, likely why I felt so much better taking this specific supplement!)
- Ashwagandha, which I already detailed above.
5 // Iron
There is evidence that shows iron deficiency impairs thyroid metabolism. And some studies show that with impaired thyroid function, many people need iron levels higher than the “normal” range in order to properly maintain thyroid function. *
I myself have a long history of iron-deficiency anemia, thanks to heavy periods and endometriosis, so I knew ensuring above-adequate levels of iron would likely be helpful for my thyroid. I did notice a difference in my energy once adding iron in. *
Make sure you choose an iron supplement that also contains the necessary cofactors for iron absorption. * I love this Iron Complex from NOW Foods because it also has vitamin C, folate, B-12, organic dong quai, and red raspberry to maximize iron absorption. *
6 // Vitamin B-12
As I mentioned above, B vitamins are necessary cofactors in thyroid function. *
B-12 is an essential vitamin, which means our bodies can’t make it and we have to supply it from outside sources. It helps convert carbs into usable glucose, which is why it’s most notably associated with energy levels. * It also helps maintain the health of nerve cells, which is why it’s often related to cognitive function. *
Vitamin B-12 deficiency is considered to be one of the leading nutrient deficiencies in the world, and it has specifically been linked to thyroid issues — This research study showed nearly 40% of hypothyroid patients had marked B-12 deficiency.
Because I have the MTHFR gene mutation, my body struggles to methylate and detox properly, and I’m prone to high levels of homocysteine building up in the blood. This means I need B-12 to support the breakdown of homocysteine, and I have absolutely noticed a massive difference in how I feel when I take it. *
Again, this is by no means a one-size-fits-all treatment plan for thyroid issues. But, I do share it in the hopes that it serves as a resource for you in evaluating your own treatment plan. There are so many ways to navigate supporting our bodies through seasons of less-than-ideal health. Medication is not bad (I’m on some myself at the moment), but I always start with nutritional supplementation. It’s important, even if using synthetic medications, that we always focus on supporting our bodies in the functions they were created to perform with the vitamins and minerals they need in order to perform them. I’ve found supplementing from a nutritional approach to always be the most natural and reliable and effective option in choosing long-term health and healing.
Questions?? Leave them below! Did you learn something new? I’d love to. know what you learned!
Here’s to choosing health and refusing to let our suboptimal thyroid function rob us of our joy! xx, molls
Huge thank you to NOW for sponsoring this post. It’s such a joy to share my favorite brands with y’all and it’s because of brands like these that I’m able to create this extensive content for you. As always, all opinions are my own.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease.