Holistic and integrative health approaches offer a significant advantage compared to conventional approaches to thyroid problems, because they take into consideration multiple factors which are involved in the health of the gland. Thyroid illnesses are not only about thyroid dysfunctions, causing negative symptoms that need to be suppressed by drugs. These are present because of much more complex biochemical imbalances, which need to be determined and addressed properly. The real causes can be diverse and multiple and they all affect the thyroid; digestive, liver, adrenal dysfunctions, nutritional imbalances are only a few of these.
Hypothyroid individuals suffer from digestive insufficiency, especially from a low level of gastric acid. This is essential in mineral absorption like iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc. A low thyroid activity is able to decrease nutrient absorption.
Some of the key nutrients that contribute to the good (or bad) functioning of the thyroid are as follows:
Iron deficiency is very common in hypothyroid people, especially because of low gastric acid levels and so decreased absorption. Iron is essential in forming catalase, a key antioxidant which protects the cells from free radicals, through the transformation of hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen. Iron is also necessary to form cytochrome, essential in the production of ATP and energy . The enzyme that converts iodide to iodine in order to combine with thyrosine to make thyroid hormones is iron dependent. Iron is also necessary for the T4 to T3 hormone conversion.
Heme molecule, the most important component of hemoglobin protein is bonded to TPO (thyroid peroxidase), the enzyme that releases iodine to thyrosine, needed to form both thyroid hormones. Inadequate iron means inadequate hemoglobin, low TPO bonding, and low thyroid hormone synthesis. Because thyroid hormone alters the rate of heme oxidation in the liver, low thyroid function can cause a vicious cycle involving iron-deficiency.
Iron supplementation is not recommended for multiple reasons. First of all, if digestive insufficiency is present, such as low gastric acid, the iron may not be absorbed efficiently. At the same time, many forms of supplemental iron are poorly used by the body.
Second, iron is a powerfully reactive pro-oxidant, and the body has several mechanisms available to prevent free iron from being released. That is why, when you are in a state of increased oxidative stress and free radical activity (like it happens with many hypothyroid individuals), the body’s cells are programmed to rapidly degrade heme, to prevent free iron from entering circulation. Supplementing iron could actually add to this pro-oxidant activity, especially when unbound by proteins and making it a rather risky and undesirable choice.
The body needs iron that comes from food, especially those from animal products; these are the forms that the body can use and metabolize efficiently.
The thyroid converts tyrosine to thyroglobulin and attaches between 1 and 4 iodine atoms to create T1, T2, T3 and T4 hormones. Without sufficient iodine the thyroid can’t produce these hormones. Iodine is a critical nutrient for a good functioning thyroid and deficiencies are common. This doesn’t necessary come from lack of iodine in the diet, but rather because of bio-unavailable iodine in tissues. This happens because of the accumulated environment toxins: bromide, fluoride, chloride, halogen, heavy metals, which block iodine absorption. This is why solving the real cause is essential- detoxify the body from toxic compounds first and not necessarily supplementing with iodine.
As with selenium, zinc is very important in the T4 to T3 conversion. When zinc is low, the hypothalamus can’t correctly measure the level of thyroid hormones to raise production when these are insufficient. This can also contribute to insufficient hormone production and hypothyroidism.
Simply supplementing with all these nutrients won’t ensure proper thyroid function though, because people are all different on a biochemical level and so their nutritional requirements are also individual. Using some simple clinical tests like a functional interpretation of your blood work and your hair test mineral analysis, as well as establishing your metabolic type can properly and precisely determine your deficiencies and nutritional requirements. You can only achieve good health and reversal of negative symptoms with an integrative and targeted supplementation protocol and personalized diet.