6 Essential Supplements for Your Thyroid and Hashimoto’s


While western medicine has a time and a place, and to be sure I’m grateful to be an M.D. who can prescribe pharmaceuticals when needed, too often it is assumed that they are the only solution. When it comes to Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism, the right dose of the right medication can make a world of difference in how a woman feels! But the thing with these medications is that while they provide a missing element- thyroid hormones – they don’t actually do anything to nourish, heal, or boost the thyroid’s health.

The thyroid gland requires specific vitamins and minerals to function at its best. What’s more, the right supplements can make a world of difference in the health of your thyroid tissue.

It is possible for many people to improve thyroid hormone levels and lower thyroid antibodies without medication – or to augment levels even if you are on medication. I personally have seen patients’ antibodies go from well over a 1000 down to as low as the 40s – close to normal – and the need for medication doses be significantly reduced.  However, there’s definitely a time and place for thyroid medication, which I also sometimes prescribe in my medical practice. Research suggests that certain supplements – nutrients and herbs – can reduce thyroid antibodies, improve free T3 and free T4 levels (thyroid hormone) levels, and stabilize TSH – all markers that thyroid health is improving. If these labs look like a foreign language to you, click here.

Whether you have Hashimoto’s, non-autoimmune hypothyroidism or are on the cusp of possibly needing medication but not absolutely requiring and want to help your thyroid before you cross that line, that’s where a few well-selected herbs and nutritional supplements can make a major contribution, and it’s precisely why I use them in my medical practice. The ‘new medicine for women’ is integrative – bringing together the best of conventional and traditional approaches And that’s what I bring to you in this article.


Top 6 Supplements for Improving Thyroid Health and Function 

These 6 supplements can help to improve the health and functioning of your thyroid. These can be taken alone or in combination with each other. They can also be used in conjunction with thyroid medication for hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s, but it’s important to work closely with your medical provider because if your thyroid health starts to improve, you could actually end up needing less medication – a good thing – but you want to check so you’re not overmedicating

My usual ‘starter’ go-to combination consists of selenium, myoinositol, and ashwagandha (which is generally very well tolerated even by those who avoid nightshades). I always check a vitamin D level in my patients, and if that is not optimal (a blood level of between 50 – 80) I add vitamin D to the ‘starter  plan.’ 

I generally recommend trying this starter plan for at least 3 months, or as long as six months, and then staying on your supplements until thyroid health is solidly improved. You can, at any time, add in the other supplements below to get an even bigger impact, but often, simpler works just fine.

In some cases, especially in pregnant women and new moms, or anyone with major lab abnormalities or significant thyroid symptoms, thyroid hormones medication is still necessary – and that’s not a failure. Meanwhile, all women with thyroid problems (whether they take thyroid medication or not) can work to heal Root Causes – and support your thyroid wellness, with natural strategies and supplements.

In the descriptions below I mention whether each supplement is safe while pregnant and breastfeeding.

1. Vitamin D3

Studies show that vitamin D levels tend to be lower in people with hypothyroidism. Because the body needs vitamin D to produce and use thyroid hormones, and because vitamin D is an important immune modulator that’s involved in hundreds of health-sustaining functions in the body – including bone health, modd, blood sugar regulation, and energy – it’s important to have optimal blood levels of between 50-80 ng/mL. In some cases, vitamin D is the missing link when a woman is already on supplemental thyroid hormones, but her dose needs to keep changing or she’s not seeing results.  Before starting a supplement it’s optimal to have your levels tested, but if for some reason you’re unable to, a standard dose of 2000 units/day is appropriate for most adults.

Dose: Vitamin D3 2,000–4,000 IU/day, depending on your serum levels; ideally, recheck blood levels six weeks after starting supplementation  to determine whether you are on your personally optimal dose. Safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

2. Selenium

The body turns the mineral selenium into the powerful antioxidant glutathione, which protects the thyroid from inflammation and oxidative stress. Several studies have shown that supplementing with selenium can reduce TPO antibodies.

Selenium is also critical in the conversion of T4 (the inactive form of thyroid hormone) to T3 (the active form) and it has been shown to decrease the risk of developing postpartum thyroiditis in women who are positive for TPO antibodies before or during pregnancy. It can be started during pregnancy and continued into the postpartum period to reduce risk.

Food sources of selenium are a great option, though they don’t replace supplementation. Brazil nuts, mushrooms, lamb, turkey, chicken, eggs, cod, and halibut are all selenium-rich. A note of caution: selenium can worsen thyroid function if you’re also experiencing iodine deficiency, so make sure you know your iodine status before starting selenium.

Dose: 200 mcg/day (do not exceed that amount), which is safe during pregnancy and while breastfeeding

3. Inositol

Recent research has discovered that the combination of selenium (200 mcg/day) and myoinositol is even more powerful at reducing anti-thyroid autoantibodies – both anti-TPO and anti-Tg antibodies – and also helping to improve thyroid function and TSH levels – than selenium alone. In one major study, 6 months of treatment was needed to begin to see maximum benefits. In this study, participants also reported improvements in their quality of life! Another study of 168 individuals with Hashimoto’s, all with TSH between 3 and 6 µIU/ml, found that participants who received myoinositol and selenium together (over those who took only selenium) saw significant decreases in TSH, TPOAb and TgAb levels, as well as in enhanced thyroid hormones and personal wellbeing.

Dose: 600 mg/day; safe in pregnancy and breastfeeding. I recommend staying on the combination at least until thyroid autoantibodies are normalized; indefinitely if needed.

4. Ashwagandha

In animal studies, this Ayurvedic herb has been shown to increase circulating T4 levels with no influence on T3. Other studies have shown that both hormones (T3 and T4) increased under the same protocol. Research also suggests that ashwagandha may have benefits for the liver. And since that’s where T4 to T3 conversion largely happens, perhaps explains some of the benefits.

Dose: The lowest effective dose for acute usage of ashwagandha, and perhaps the most cost-effective dose, is 300-500 mg. The optimal dose is 6,000 mg a day usually divided into three doses (2,000 mg each). Ashwagandha is safe while breastfeeding, but not safe in pregnancy.

5. Zinc

Zinc is involved in the conversion of T4 to T3, so it’s an important nutrient if you appear to have problems with thyroid-hormone conversion. In one study, participants who took zinc sulphate for 12 months had T3 levels come into the normal range, had decreases in reverse T3, and had better communication between the hypothalamus and the thyroid (the hypothalamus releases thyrotropin-releasing hormone which tells the thyroid to release TSH.) Furthermore, research has connected zinc deficiency with decreased thyroid hormone levels and a lower resting metabolic rate.

Dose: 30 mg/day (take with meals to prevent nausea). Zinc is safe when pregnant and breastfeeding.

6. Guggul

Like ashwagandha, guggul is an Ayurvedic herb that has been shown to improve T3 and T4 levels. Animal research suggests that guggul improves iodine uptake and metabolic activity of the thyroid gland.

Dose: 750 mg/day. Safe while breastfeeding, but not in pregnancy.  Discontinue when thyroid levels normalize.

Always Address Your Root Causes, Too

While these supplements can nourish and may even help to heal thyroid tissue, a truly holistic, integrative plan of healing the root causes of thyroid problems is always a wise plan. For more on the Root Causes of Hashimoto’s, and how to heal them, get my book The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution. It’s got the steps you’ll want to take to take back your health!

 

Have you tried natural supplements for Hashimoto’s? Let me know in the comments. Not sure where to get your supplements? Learn about DharmaMoms right here. It’s a way to get the best supplements at the best price – a guaranteed 20% discount – while helping moms-in-need get access to midwives and better births.

Maxwell C, Volpe SL. Effect of zinc supplementation on thyroid hormone function. A case study of two college females. Ann Nutr Metab 2007;51(2):188‑94.

Nishiyama S, et al. Zinc supplementation alters thyroid hormone metabolism in disabled patients with zinc deficiency. J Am Coll Nutr. 1994 Feb;13(1):62-7.

Nordio, M. et al. Treatment With Myo-Inositol and Selenium Ensures Euthyroidism in Patients With Autoimmune Thyroiditis. Int J Endocrinol 2017, 2549491. 2017

Nordio, M and P. Raffaella. Combined Treatment with Myo-Inositol and Selenium Ensures Euthyroidism in Subclinical Hypothyroidism Patients with Autoimmune Thyroiditis. Journal of Thyroid Research.Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 424163, 5 pages

Panda S, Kar A. Changes in thyroid hormone concentrations after administration of ashwagandha root extract to adult male mice. J Pharm Pharmacol. (1998)

Panda S, Kar A. Withania somnifera and Bauhinia purpurea in the regulation of circulating thyroid hormone concentrations in female mice. J Ethnopharmacol. (1999)

Tripathi YB, et al. Thyroid stimulatory action of (Z)-guggulsterone: mechanism of action. Planta Med. (1988)

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Mary

I would add Vitamin K2, MK7, to that list. It keeps calcium out of the blood and going where it is needed. 200 mcg? I already take D3, Selenium & Zinc. D3 & K2 are 3-5 times a week for me. If I don't take Zinc, 50 mg, I will get a sore on the tip of my tongue. I recently forgot and got the sore. At least that told me I still needed to take it. I wish I could contact a physician in Mexico with the breadth of your experience. So far, not. Mostly males here. Mary

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Georgia T

Aviva, thank you for your wonderful and always informative articles! I have tried supplements for Hashimoto’s and I have seen a huge difference in my energy levels. I have been using zinc, selenium and adaptogens. I haven’t tested yet to see the impact on my labs but I am feeling much better. I was intrigued however by your comment above regarding checking iodine levels before you start selenium. Is there a specific and accurate blood test for assessing iodine levels? Once again thank you for educating and empowering women to take over their own health.

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    Aviva Romm

    Fantastic! Thank you for writing. Yes, I simply check serum iodine in my patients - a quick blood test any doc or lab can order. :)

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Jenny

Thank you for this article! If you have iodine deficiency, should you not supplement with selenium at all until iodine levels come up, or can you supplement with selenium and iodine at the same time?

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    Aviva Romm

    Yes - support the iodine first, then add the selenium. Great question! This is a good time for labs to help you monitor improvement in iodine.

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Antonio

Do all these vitamin for thyroid can also help man.

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ana gonzales

Always a big believer in holistic ways to treat medical issues, however if you are on synthetic thyroid hormones, never take suppliments with your medications because it renders them ineffective. I learned the hard way after two ablations for Graves disease. No one told me this and for about a year, I got worse instead of feeling better. I'm diffinately going to give these a try.

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Meredith

How should these supplements be taken if a patient is already taking medication for Hashimotos (synthroid)? I was told to avoid taking any supplements within 4 hours of synthroid to avoid interactions, so would it be best to take these at night? Also do you recommend taking with food? Thanks very much for this thoughtful information, it is extremely helpful.

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    Aviva Romm

    See my book The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution for a full discussion :) https://www.amazon.com/Adrenal-Thyroid-Revolution-Metabolism-Hormones/dp/0062476343

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Courtney

Hello, thank you for this post. I am always trying to go above and beyond what my western med docs tell me. I have graves which has now swung into hypothyroidism after a year of drug therapy. I remain on thyroid inhibitor and am now on thyroid replacement as well... sigh. Would this protocol be safe/helpful to me? Thanks!

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    Aviva Romm

    Hi Courtney, you can use the supplements to protect against antibodies, but you won’t really be able to get your thyroid to produce T3 and T4 so you’ll need thyroid hormone medication rather than the herbs that boost the thyroid.

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Marie

Would the same protocol apply for Grave’s Disease that has been treated with radioiodine?

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    Aviva Romm

    If you've had full ablation and are now functionally hypothyroid, then you can use the supplements to protect against antibodies, but you won't really be able to get your thyroid to produce T3 and T4 so you'll need thyroid hormone medication rather than the herbs that boost the thyroid.

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Linda

I have probably been low thyroid for many years, definitely for the last 10 years but do not have a problem with weight gain or exhaustion just never great energy and low B/P and pulse. After a Health screen a year ago I realised that I needed to do something about it and started Biohacking myself. I took basal temperature, B/P and pulse and monitored sleep and energy levels to gauge the effectiveness of what I was doing. Tyrosine upped my metabolism but gave me a dreadful headache but Selenium, Ashwaganda and CoQ10 plus Vitamin B1 really gave me a boost. After a year though my thyroid test still showed raised antibodies and TSH and slightly low T4/T3 but my heart arrthymia has not improved so I will be starting to take natural thyroid hormones but at least I know I have optimised my diet and nutrition first and I will carry on doing what I can to get my cells working well.

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kathleen

Do you have helpful info relating to hyperthyroidism? I am looking at surgery to remove my entire thyroid and am scared to death to do so. Regards, Kathleen

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Quantum

Thank you for the very thorough information. Bless.

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Monica Sutton

It has been a while since I wrote a message on here. I just wanted to say that I have been on the myo-inositol and selenium combination for about 3 months now and I feel great. I am positive that my 134 antibodies decreased, because I no longer experience moodiness and hormonal issues after eating certain foods. Thank you so much Dr. Aviva Romm you have helped me tremendously and put my worries to rest. This is exactly what I should have done initially instead of taking Levothyroxine. God bless you!

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    Aviva Romm

    That's so fabulous and thank you for letting me know! Wonderful!!!

    Reply