Thyroid problems can have multiple – and sometimes quite complex – causes. Nutrient deficiencies, however, often play a role in thyroid disease. Hashimoto's thyroiditis – an autoimmune condition where the immune system mistakenly damages the thyroid – is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the U.S. and can be made worse by a lack of key vitamins in the diet. No matter what the cause of your thyroid symptoms, discovering what vitamins can support thyroid health may help you live a healthy and productive life.
The Importance of Vitamin A
Antioxidants are substances that protect the cells and tissues of the body from oxidative damage from free radicals. Antioxidants are extremely important for healthy thyroid function due to their ability to counteract the damage from inflammatory processes. One of the most important nutrients for the thyroid is vitamin A, since a deficiency in this vitamin is often a factor in autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Vitamin A is found in foods like sweet potatoes, apricots, kale, chard, raw carrots, red bell peppers and winter squash.
Other Antioxidants and Thyroid Health
Other important antioxidants for thyroid function include vitamins E and C. Vitamin E is particularly important if malabsorption of nutrients has contributed to thyroid dysfunction and can be found in foods like sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, chard, papaya and red bell peppers. Vitamin C is also important in protecting the cells from damage, as well as being involved in vitamin E assimilation. Foods high in vitamin C include strawberries, citrus fruit, bell peppers, papaya, kiwi, cantaloupe and kale.
Vitamin D and the Thyroid
Vitamin D may be important for healthy thyroid function due to its role in balancing the immune system and lessening inflammation, according to acupuncturist and thyroid expert Chris Kresser. Vitamin D deficiency has specifically been linked to autoimmune thyroid disease and supplementation may help to control damage to the thyroid and improve symptoms.
Other important nutrients for thyroid function include the full spectrum of B vitamins, according to University of Maryland Medical Center. Foods high in B vitamins include fresh vegetables, whole grains and sea vegetables. Vitamin B-12 is particularly important if you avoid animal products, since it isn't found in a bioavailable form outside of meat or dairy products. Speak to your doctor about whether you need to take a B-12 supplement.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Hypothyroidism
- Bauman College: Hashimotos Autoimmune Thyroiditis: Eating for Health Applications for Recovery
- Chris Kresser, L.Ac: The Role of Vitamin D Deficiency in Thyroid Disorders
- The World's Healthiest Foods: Vitamin E
- The World's Healthiest Foods: Vitamin C
Amy Myszko is a certified clinical herbalist and nutritional consultant who has been helping people find greater health and balance through diet, lifestyle and natural remedies since 2006. She received her certification from the North American Institute of Medical Herbalism in Boulder, Colo. Myszko also holds a BA in literature from the University of Colorado.