Selenium is a trace mineral that plays an important function in thyroid health. We shouldn’t underestimate the power of this little mineral.
How the thyroid gland works
First, the thyroid gland makes thyroid hormones, predominantly T4 and T3, and these hormones are then transported through out your body. Did you know that just about each and every cell in your body needs thyroid hormones for metabolism and energy production?
But we have to remember that the T4 hormones are inactive, and these T4 hormones first have to be converted to T3 hormores. The cells can only use these T3 hormones – which are the active hormones.
Now, let’s have a look at this conversion process in a little more detail.
This conversion of T4 to T3 happens in a few places in the body – mainly the thyroid gland itself, the liver and the kidneys. Some of the conversion also happens in the gut.
This conversion happens with the help of enzymes, and these enzymes are called deiodenases. There are two groups of deiodenases that does the work, which is named D1 and D2.
Why selenium is important for thyroid health
So why is selenium important?
Well, these enzymes are made from selenium, and if you don’t get in enough selenium through your diet or supplements, you may not have sufficient enzymes available to do this very important job of converting the inactive T4 hormones to the active T3 hormones.
So we have to make sure that we get enough selenium in through our diets or supplements. We don’t need a ton of it, but just enough.
Selenium can help with Hashimoto's
There has also been research that shown that, and I’ll put the link below, showing that selenium can help to reduce the autoimmune reaction in Hashimoto’s patients (1).
Food that contain selenium
So, thyroid patients need to ensure that you get enough selenium in. So which foods are high in selenium? Here they are (2,3):
- Brazil Nuts: These are like the superheroes of selenium. Just a couple of brazil nuts can provide your daily dose. But don’t overdo it, as too much selenium isn’t a good thing.
- Fish: Tuna, halibut, and sardines are great sources.
- Lean Meats: Chicken, turkey, and lean beef are good options.
- Whole Grains: Brown rice, whole wheat bread, and oats can boost your selenium intake.
- Sunflower Seeds: A tasty and nutritious snack.
- Dairy: Cheese and yogurt also contain selenium.
- Eggs: They’re a versatile source of selenium.
- Spinach: A leafy green choice.
Supplementing with selenium
We have to keep in mind that many soils have become depleted in selenium, so the plant food we eat may not enough selenium in anymore. Thyroid patients need selenium, so you may have to take a selenium supplement. Remember, to please check with your healthcare provider before you start taking supplements, and always tell your healthcare provider which supplements you are taking.
If you are taking a selenium supplement, the recommended amount is 200 to 400 micrograms of selenium each day.
Where to get selenium
First, I would always focus on eating a variety of foods to get as much nutrients from my foods.
But for many thyroid patients, like myself, a supplement may be needed. I would recommend that first, speak with your health care provider about supplementation. Second, visit your local health shop or pharmacy to find a good quality selenium supplement.
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