by Byron Richards
Thyroid hormone is a manager, it is not a worker. Cells do the work and they must have adequate nutrition to comply efficiently with directions. Thyroid hormone (T3) delivers its message to the DNA of cells which in turn tells the mitochondria of cells how fast to produce energy.
If cells lack B vitamins they cannot efficiently implement thyroid hormone directions, even if the hormone is working perfectly fine. Along with B vitamins nutrients such as krebs cycle intermediates, Q10, and magnesium assist cells to make energy. Any or all of these nutrients may be important in an individual with fatigue and a collection of sluggish thyroid symptoms.
This all falls under the category of adequate nutrition to carry out the instructions of thyroid hormones. A lack of nutrients to produce cellular energy always disturbs optimal thyroid function and can cause any of the symptoms of a poorly performing thyroid.
B vitamins are also important to keep the nerves healthy that are giving directions to the thyroid gland in the first place. A recent study of patients with thyroid autoimmune disease found that 28% were deficient in B12. Elevated homocysteine is now well associated with poor thyroid function. Elevated homocysteine is due to a lack of folic acid, B12, and/or B6. B12, folic acid, and B6 are required for optimal nerve transmission, which is involved with the initial formation of thyroid hormone.
It is well established that a lack of zinc in blood cells is a common finding in those with poor thyroid function. Zinc is involved in hundreds of enzymes throughout the body, many of which relate to energy production, including those that produce thyroid hormone. Zinc deficiency is associated with lower body temperature and reduced resting metabolic rate. Zinc is an important nutrient that enables active thyroid hormone (T3) to bind to the DNA of a cell (on the zinc fingers), thereby initiating the cellular response to thyroid hormone. A recent case report of two young zinc-deficient women showed that 25 mg of zinc per day significantly improved thyroid function.
While a basic need for zinc is 15 mg a day, various factors may induce zinc loss such as sweating (exercise), stress, and pollution. Some individuals need 25 – 50 mg of zinc per day (zinc picolinate and citrate are the best forms). White spots on the fingernails are a classic zinc deficiency symptom, as is weak immunity. Those who are dieting and cutting back on calories will lose energy very fast if they are zinc deficient, causing metabolism to slow down to a hibernation rate and making it quite a struggle to make any progress. This means that a zinc need may not show up until a person actually tries to lose weight. Strengthener Plus is a good choice as it provides both zinc picolinate and zinc citrate, the two most biologically active forms of zinc.
Iron has recently been identified as a key nutrient in cells that enables thyroid-driven gene signals to function in metabolic pathways. A lack of iron inside cells may reduce up to 80 different gene signals that would otherwise be following “thyroid instructions,” resulting in handicapped metabolism and fatigue. This is different than anemia from a lack of iron and may be occurring even when red blood cells and hemoglobin levels are normal. Certainly if a person has iron deficiency anemia it is a major problem for cellular thyroid function. Individuals with a history of anemia and borderline hemoglobin status are often lacking enough iron for proper thyroid function within cells.
Iron is also involved with muscle fatigue, as a lack of iron reduces the oxygen capacity of muscles by lowering the function of myoglobulin (an iron-containing compound).
Since thyroid hormone governs the rate of oxygen use in the human body, a lack of iron can slow down metabolism. Iron forms the hemoglobin in red blood cells that transports oxygen to cells to use in metabolism. A lack of iron causes poor oxygen transport, and thus reduced oxygen supply to cells. This helps explain why shortness of breath is a classic symptom of iron deficiency. Some individuals even hold their breath in an effort to get more oxygen to their head (a sign of iron deficiency).
Many unresolving low thyroid symptoms, including low body temperature and fatigue, can be corrected with iron supplementation. The best form of iron supplementation is the true protein chelate, iron bisglycinate. When needed, iron is a significant metabolic booster. Our Blood Builder is a great way to go. It provides iron in the safe form known as iron bisglycinate, along with B12, folic acid, B6, and C.
There is a wide array of nutrients that may be quite helpful in supporting thyroid function. Nutrients will not solve a poor diet, a stressful lifestyle, and a lack of exercise. Those truly interested in optimizing the function of their thyroid must have a comprehensive plan. This includes eating properly (the Leptin Diet), getting enough sleep (at least 7 hours per night), stress management skills, and consistent and refreshing exercise. Along with these basics, dietary supplements are great tools to assist metabolism.
About the author:
Byron J. Richards, Founder/Director of Wellness Resources (www.wellnessresources.com), is a Board-Certified Clinical Nutritionist and nationally-renowned health expert, radio personality, and educator. He is the author of Mastering Leptin, The Leptin Diet, and Fight for Your Health: Exposing the FDA's Betrayal of America.