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Have you just started realizing how important your thyroid function truly is? There are so many over the counter low thyroid supplements out there, but are they effective?
Today, I am going to tell you 5 clear reasons how these supplements can backfire. Learn the risks, and then make the right choice for your health.
Understanding Low Thyroid Supplements
Right now, we are seeing plenty of products which are billing themselves as thyroid support, thyroid boosters and thyroid glandular supports.
This is positive because it means that people are really starting to understand how critical their thyroid is to their overall health.
As we have talked about before, your thyroid moves the needle so much when it comes to your:
- Energy Levels
- Brain Function
We are also getting a pretty clear sense that what is commonly done in medicine is not enough. There is a distinct lack of testing, and people are being prescribed synthroid. That is causing problems for people who should really be focusing on root causes.
This means that there are plenty of people who know that they need help with their thyroid, but cannot find it.
For me, that sounds incredibly frustrating. If you want to go further for your health, you should be equipped with the tools to do so – instead, some are feeling like they are being left behind.
Many people have made products to handle this situation that I have outlined here. People understand the importance of their thyroid, they feel like they cannot find a solution from standard medical practices.
So they seek these kinds of products. They do have risks and limitations, though, and that is what I want to get into today.
Today, we are going to look at five of the most common over the counter thyroid supplements, and the ways in which they can actually harm your body (instead of help).
Glandular Thyroid Supplements
This is a scenario that I have seen come up quite a bit.
There are plenty of these types of supplements that you can find over the counter (or even on Amazon).
If you look online, you might even find people suggesting that these supplements can be used instead of thyroid medications.
That is because these glandular thyroid supplements come from the same raw material as those other thyroid medications: natural desiccated thyroid. There are two things that you often hear about these kinds of supplements:
- That there is no active hormone
- There might be active hormone, but you can change it by taking a certain amount of supplement
The problem here is that the first is simply not true, and the second is somewhat true but not always consistent (which is also not good).
The idea of “removing” the hormone is actually impossible, first and foremost, so that is a problem whenever you see that claim made.
Diving Into The Study
The second is that a study was done by a group of scientists which shows how these supplements consistently varied in their range of having T3 and T41.
The range, for both, was actually huge. Based on this, if you were to take these supplements in greater quantities you might risk overdosing without knowing it. That is because each supplement is like playing the lottery. You might get a little, or you might get a lot!
The other dangerous aspect of these supplements is that they are bovine-derived, and therefore are subject to what are known as prions.
Prions are like a more basic version of a virus, which has led to the outbreak of what you might know as mad cow disease.
The problem here is that you might be subjecting yourself to this problem, which also takes almost 15 years to manifest itself. That’s what happens when you take bovine-derived supplements2.
In Conclusion: False claims, inconsistent amounts and the dangers of bovine-derived, glandular thyroid supplements might work for a minute, but they are not worth the long-term risks.
There is still a vague idea which exists, that suggests that the thyroid needs iodine. This is true, but it develops this false connection where getting more and more must be good. The problem here is that more iodine is not better. It actually does the opposite.
While you definitely need some iodine, there has been a distinct desire by manufacturers to “call-out” iodine on their packaging to make their product more desirable.
This means that you might run the risk of going over your proper range for iodine in your system.
If you are on thyroid medications, chances are you are already getting a little or a lot already.
This also means that you might already be in your “sweet spot” for iodine.
When you take these supplements you might be pushing yourself back out and doing damage to your thyroid and blocking its ability to function.
Key Insight: If you have Hashimoto’s disease, your best daily dose of iodine is going to fall in between 100 – 300 micrograms per day. If you are on thyroid medications, you are probably already in the lower range of this need.
Iodine in Your Diet
The other important consideration is that you are always going to get some iodine from your diet. The one exception here being raw food vegans, who might suffer from being iodine deficient.
Otherwise, between your thyroid medications and your diet you are already getting plenty of iodine for your thyroid’s health. There is absolutely no need to keep packing it on (Read: Why I discourage high does iodine).
In Conclusion: Extra iodine is not making you more healthy, it can actually be hurting you. You want to make sure you are in a good range, and you might already be there thanks to your medications and your diet. Know the range, and do not push past it.
Many supplements, in general, as well as many thyroid supplements actually have folic acid in them.
Folic acid is actually a synthetic version of folate, and folate is super important when it comes to our bodies.
It does so much, and even has an effect on our:
- Immune System
The drawback is that those with thyroid disease most often have a gene defect for folate metabolism, which means that they have a harder time working it into their system. We actually call this the MTHF-R gene defect3.
Because of that, folic acid is not only ineffective, but it gets in the way – it actually stops things from working altogether. Not only does it prevent our bodies from functioning properly, but it also raises our risk for colorectal cancer.
It is best to avoid folic acids completely, which is why thyroid supplements with folic acids do a lot more harm than good.
In Conclusion: Due to the MTHF-R gene defect, people with thyroid disease (99%) are unable to metabolize folate properly. Folic acids get in the way, and might even cause long-term harm to the body (in the form of cancer).
Selenium is actually a lot like iodine, when we consider that “sweet spot” theory where too little is not enough, and too much is actually dangerous for our health.
The trick comes from the fact that we can already get selenium from other medications we are taking, as well as from the food we are eating. Additional supplements can do more to push us over the edge, rather than get us into that sweet spot where we need to be.
Monitoring your selenium levels is going to be so important, though, so we need to keep an eye on where we stand.
A selenium deficiency can actualy raise our risk for certain cancers4, and selenium overdoses can do the same thing!
In past experiences, I have seen patients who were suffering from excess levels of selenium. Based on their blood chemistry, at first it looked like they could have had lead poisoning.
An overdose of selenium can look a lot like lead poisoning, which should tell you enough about how you definitely want to avoid getting too much selenium into your body.
For supplementation, you are going to want to consider 200 – 300 micrograms per day of selenium. This is because you do not want to exceed 600 micrograms, across all sources, so I would recommend not going over 400 micrograms per day of supplementation altogether.
Trace Mineral Concentrate
My biggest issue with thyroid supplements is that I see so many with trace mineral concentrates in them.
At first, I thought that this stuff was not used as much as it used to be anymore in more modern supplements – after perusing some ingredients lists, though, I was really wrong. Trace mineral concentrates are common, and can be found in many thyroid supplements.
We know of lots of minerals that are essential for human life to flourish5, they can help us grow and they can keep us from being sick.
There was a brief period in science, though, where researchers were trying to find the next “hot mineral”. The mineral that we simply cannot live without, and that is essential to human life. After testing, researching and experimenting, a lot of these studies proved fruitless6.
We already know a great deal about minerals, and the ones we need – we also have a good idea of the ones we don’t need, and can actually run the risk of hurting our bodies.
This is not because obscure minerals are harmful, it is that they can be partnered with toxic metals – aluminum, lead, mercury and fluoride – that can hurt our body.
In Conclusion: Our bodies are exposed to plenty of minerals, and the smaller ones really have not proven to have any effect on our lives (keeping us healthy and helping us grow). Trace mineral concentrates are not dangerous because of this, but because they can contain dangerous toxic metals that can hurt us long-term.
Supplements might sound like a great idea at first for your thyroid (Read: How to test your thyroid, the definitive guide).
After all, you might be thinking that you are not getting enough of certain things. The problem with them is that they can often be partnered with dangerous chemicals or metals, and they can also disrupt our “sweet spot” journey – especially with things like iodine and selenium.
Keep an eye on your health, and get to know more about your thyroid (Click Here for Thyroid Quiz). It’s so important, and it drives so much of what goes on in our bodies. Take the thyroid quiz today, and get to know more about this essential element of your body.
1 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Thyroxine+and+Triiodothyronine+Content+in+Commercially+Available+Thyroid+Health+Supplements
2 – http://www.livestrong.com/article/485514-what-are-the-dangers-of-taking-bovine-pituitary-extract/
3 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WxQOn_CAHI
4 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24563519
5 – http://www.academicjournals.org/article/article1380713863_Soetan%20et%20al.pdf
6 – https://traceminerals.com/faq/
P.S. Whenever you are ready, here is how I can help you now:
1. Schedule a Thyroid Second Opinion with me, Dr. C, Click Here for Details
2. Need a Personalized Supplement? Check out My Thyroid Specific Formulations
3. Download and use my Favorite Recipes Cookbook Here
4. Check out my podcast Medical Myths, Legends, and Fairytales Here
Dr. Alan Glen Christianson (Dr. C) is a Naturopathic Endocrinologist and the author of The NY Times bestselling Adrenal Reset Diet, The Metabolism Reset Diet and The Thyroid Reset Diet.
Dr. C’s gift for figuring out what really works has helped hundreds of thousands of people reverse thyroid disease, lose weight, diabetes, and regain energy. Learn more about the surprising story that started his quest.