Selenium For Your Health
Like many minerals, selenium isnt needed in large quantities but it is still very much essential.
Selenium helps activate enzymes that are critical for detoxification, called glutathione oxidases. Of the eight kinds of glutathione oxidases, five are known to require selenium, making the mineral a detoxing powerhouse, albeit indirectly.
There are indications that selenium-containing enzymes also help the body recycle vitamin C, adding to its antioxidant fame. This is especially important because, unlike most other mammals, humans are not able to make our own vitamin C.
What does this have to do with the thyroid gland? Well, very little actually, except of course that decreasing oxidative stress and supporting detoxification can certainly help thyroid function.
But seleniums more direct impact on Hashimotos and hypothyroidism has even more up its sleeve.
Why Shellfish Is The Best Food For Your Thyroid Health
If you like clams, mussels, crab or lobster, here is a good reason to indulge. Shellfish is tops when it comes to the foods that support thyroid health.
Clams and mussels, especially, are rich sources of selenium, iron and iodine, all nutrients essential for normal thyroid function and hormone production.
Selenium is highly concentrated in the thyroid gland. It is an essential part of the enzyme that catalyzes the conversion of T4, the inactive form of thyroid hormone, to T3, the active form of thyroid hormone. By doing so, it regulates the concentration of the active hormone.
Iron, meanwhile, is part of thyroid peroxidase, an enzyme that uses iodine ions and hydrogen peroxide to generate thyroglobulin, which plays a central role in the production of thyroid hormones.
Shellfish are also a rich source of natural iodine. Iodine is concentrated in the thyroid gland, where it is used directly to make thyroid hormones. Iodine deficiency causes the thyroid gland to swell, a condition called goiter. The gland may eventually become hyperplastic and develop nodules.
The best way to get toxin-free shellfish is to buy it in season from a reputable fish market or large supermarket and to ask about any potential problems. For frozen shrimp or lobster, its best to buy U.S.-caught. For canned clams, check the can label and make sure they are USA-sourced.
Carpenter DO. Polychlorinated biphenyls : routes of exposure and effects on human health. Rev Environ Health. 2006 Jan-Mar 21:1-23.
Vitamins / Supplements : : Hashimoto’s And Selenium
I’ve been struggling with my Hashimoto’s diagnosis. I am actually “alright” at this present moment, but it was a long and rocky road. My Endo is not very informative at all and does not answer my questions. Last time I asked her about taking supplements. She stated she is biased because she practices Western medicine and won’t comment on whether or not she thinks it’s a good idea to take supplements.I decided a little over a year ago, to take 200 mg Selenium as an added supplement, because I’ve been reading on here, that it will help with getting the antibodies down and I must say, I can tell a difference in how I feel today from before.Now here is where I’m confused: my best friend since Kindergarten got diagnosed with Hashi’s last year. She’s really been having a hard time with it. Last time she saw her Endo, she asked the Selenium question. Her Endo said don’t take it, because your risk of developing diabetes increases! That’s something I’ve never heard about. So all day today I’ve been reading and researching this and I’m reading either it’s so good to take when you have Hashi’s and then some study they did that confirms my friends’ Drs’ point about the increased diabetes risk. Any thoughts?
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The Antioxidant Warriors For Thyroid Regulation
So important is selenium in thyroid regulation is that selenium and its selenoproteins have been called the antioxidant warriors for thyroid regulation. In a March 2020 study in the medical journal Inflammopharmacology, researchers acknowledged seleniums role as an essential immunonutrient which holds together our metabolic activity The organic forms of selenium naturally present in human body are selenocysteine and selenoproteins Selenoproteins act as antioxidant warriors for thyroid regulation, male-fertility enhancement, and anti-inflammatory actions. Selenoproteins are as they are described, the embedded proteins that the thyroid uses. In the Selenoproteins, the selenium comes in the form of selenocysteine .
The role of a strong antioxidant / immune system in thyroid health is obvious as many thyroid disorders are brought on by problems of autoimmunity.
This was supported by a March 2021 study which found selenium supplementation may have a beneficial effect on thyroid autoantibodies and thyroid function by increasing the antioxidant activity and upregulating the activated T-cells. .
What If You Get Too Much Selenium
As I mentioned before, more is not always better. In fact, it can make things quite worse. There is data saying that the higher you get beyond 400 mcg per day of selenium, you can start seeing symptoms like:
DiarrheaJoint painAnd others10
In the past, there have been some poorly-produced supplements that had hundreds of times more selenium than necessary. Clinically, I have even seen patients taking a whole host of supplements who have inadvertently gotten way too much selenium.
Key Insight: Total amounts matter, which means that when you take too many kinds of supplements, you may end up doing far more harm than good for your health.
When it comes to your dietary sources of selenium, though, it probably will not happen. You wont get toxic from Brazil nuts, and should not have to worry about it on that front.
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Should People With Thyroid Problems Avoid These Foods
Soy: If you have hypothyroidism, yes. Eating too much soy causes problems only for those with hypothyroidism, which occurs when your thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormones, Dr. Nasr says.
The main problem is that soy may hinder absorption of the hormones that such patients take.
Some studies show that if you eat a lot of soy, or drink a big glass of soy milk, within one hour of taking a thyroid hormone, it might affect absorption, Dr. Nasr says. Many individuals depend on a consistent absorption of those hormones to achieve a steady state.
Generally, expertsrecommend that people who have a borderline thyroid one thats a littleunderactive but youre still trying to preserve thyroid function do not toconsume large amounts of soy every day, he adds.
Turnips and rootvegetables: No. These vegetables aresometimes thought to cause thyroid problems, but thats not the case, Dr. Nasrsays. They are good for your diet, regardless of any thyroid issues.
One root vegetable that is the exception is cassava, a common staple in certain parts of Africa. This plant is known to produce toxins that can slow an already underactive thyroid, especially in the presence of an iodine deficiency, Dr. Nasr says. But thats not relevant here in the United States, unless you cook cassava and you eat it every day.
Causes Of Hypothyroidism And Low Thyroid Function
Hypothyroidism is a medical term for low thyroid function. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough T3 and T4 hormones. Most people with hypothyroidism will have elevated levels of TSH because the pituiatry gland will try to trigger the thyroid gland to function normally.
Hypothyroidism can have many causes. In developing countries, the most common cause of hypothyroidism is iodine deficiency. Iodine is a naturally occurring mineral found in many foods including seaweeds, milk and dairy products, fish and seafood, and eggs. The Recommended Daily Allowance for iodine is 150 mcg for most adults, except for pregnant and breastfeeding women who should consume 200 mcg daily. In the United States and many other countries iodine intake is generally adequate because this nutrient is added to table salt. Therefore, in the U.S. the most common cause of a low functioning thyroid gland is Autoimmune Thyroiditis, also called Hashimotos Thyroiditis.
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The Link Between Selenium And Thyroid Health
Selenium is an important trace element and antioxidant required for healthy thyroid hormone synthesis and metabolism. The human thyroid gland has been found to have the highest content of selenium per gram of tissue among all the organs in the human body. Selenium supports the conversion of your bodys inactive thyroid hormone thyroxine into the form your body needs, the biologically active triiodothyronine . It protects your bodys thyroid cells from oxidative damage during this process.
Ill talk more about seleniums role during the thyroid hormone conversion process, its relationship with iodine levels, and how it can be a trigger for Hashimotos. But first, let me review with you why selenium deficiencies are so commonly seen in Hashimotos in the first place.
We see many nutrient deficiencies in people with Hashimotos. I also believe that these types of nutrient issues are not just happening in Hashimotos but are generally applicable to just about everyone these days. Unfortunately, too many people in the United States eat an overly processed and gut-unfriendly Western diet, which often leads to food sensitivity reactions, digestion issues, gut permeability problems, and other nutrient absorption challenges. Add to that the toxins in our everyday environment, stress and other real world impacts and it is no wonder that our bodies are not functioning optimally.
Do Supplements Really Help
If you are worried about becoming deficient in selenium, the next thing you may be considering is supplementing with it. Is this the right idea?
Well think of this in two unique ways:
- Cutting the risk of getting thyroid disease
- Managing your current thyroid disease status
There is some pretty encouraging stuff right here. What we have are at least three large, placebo-controlled double-blind studies, showing that selenium supplementation can lower the level of thyroid antibodies.
This can be over a period of around six months, and often involves a reduction of 25-55% for thyroid peroxidase. Levels can be as dramatic for antithyroglobulin, but anti-TPO can go down a pretty large amount by selenium alone.
The study referenced showed that the most effective dose is around 100-200 micrograms per day. They also showed that selenium supplements can lower abnormal findings as found on thyroid ultrasounds.
This is absolutely great news, as those same supplements had no clear effect on thyroid hormone levels. They did not shift them up or down, for good or ill, but they did lower the autoimmune process8.
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Are You Taking Too Much Selenium On Accident
Before you run out and start taking selenium for your thyroid we need to have a discussion about your dose.
It turns out that the amount of selenium that you take is very important!
Unlike other supplements, you can relatively easily take too much selenium on accident.
And too much selenium can actually cause a number of symptoms that mimic thyroid problems .
In the case of selenium, having too little is just as bad as having too much.
So what’s the magic number?
In my own experience, I feel that using somewhere between 75 and 150mcg of selenium per safe to be a safe dose.
Taking less than this typically doesn’t have much benefit and taking more than this gets you into the range where you may start to experience the side effects of toxicity.
This is the dose that I formulate my thyroid supplements with because I’ve used it with great success over the years.
Having said that, some studies and some authorities do suggest that it’s safe to take up to 400mcg of selenium daily and that you really don’t start to see the signs of toxicity until you exceed 500 to 600mcg per day.
Even though these higher doses may be safe for MOST people, it’s always better to get away with less if possible because most people don’t account for the amount of selenium that they consume in their diet.
This is especially true for people who consume brazil nuts on a frequent basis.
Reducing your dose of selenium should help quickly to reverse these symptoms.
Selenium Has Anti Viral Properties
Lastly, selenium has been shown to have antiviral properties.
Anti vital, of course, meaning that it can kill off or prevent viruses from damaging the body.
Why would you care about this as a thyroid patient?
Well, one of the most common triggers of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the virus known as the Epstein Barr virus, or EBV for short.
Not only can EBV trigger Hashimoto’s thyroiditis but it can also be responsible for flare-ups in Hashimoto’s patients.
Certain infections, including both bacterial and viral, can trigger the onset of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis in the body.
These infections, specifically the viral strains, typically stay in the body for life.
Throughout your life, it can periodically come out and wreak havoc on the body and your immune system causing thyroid problems as it does.
Taking selenium may help to prevent or suppress this opportunistic infection from coming out and causing issues in your body.
There are obviously other antiviral supplements and medications that can and should be taken if you have this problem but why not take advantage of a natural therapy if you can?
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Supplements For Graves Disease
Graves disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism in the United States. Like Hashimotos disease, its considered an autoimmune condition.
In Graves disease, the immune system attacks your thyroid, causing it to overproduce thyroid hormones. Graves disease can also lead to thyromegaly or an enlarged thyroid .
Symptoms associated with Graves disease include weight loss, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, diarrhea, eye pain and irritation, fatigue, weakness, menstrual irregularities, insomnia, nervousness, and more (
Like Hashimotos disease, some research shows that dietary modifications may help improve symptoms and quality of life in people with Graves disease .
The following supplements may help people with Graves disease:
- Selenium. Selenium deficiency can raise your risk of Graves disease. A review found selenium supplements in daily dosages of 100300 mcg led to improved thyroid function at 6 months in people with Graves disease, but this effect was lost at 9 months .
- Vitamin D. Research shows that people with Graves disease are more likely to be deficient in vitamin D than the general population. Correcting deficiency by taking a supplement may improve thyroid function (
The best way to determine the best supplement regimen for your specific needs is to consult your healthcare provider.
As mentioned above, its best to avoid thyroid-specific supplement blends unless theyre specifically recommended by your healthcare provider.
Selenium And Hashimotos Disease
Selenium nourishment is believed to be responsible for positive changes in the echostructure of the thyroid gland in HT patients. It is possible, that this effect is a result of alleviation:
- Inflammatory processes,
- Antioxidative protection.
Another important antioxidant in your body is glutathione. It is naturally synthesized in the body and often reported to be decreased in HT patients. If you havent heard about glutathione, check out what it is and how to increase its production in the body.
If you want to increase Se status in your body you want to choose organic compounds like selenomethionine or selenocysteine instead of inorganic ones like selenite and selenate. The former ones have a better absorption rate in the gut thus their bioavailability for the body is higher.
Inorganic Se compounds used in the studies on HT patients might be responsible for a lack of results reported in some of them.
An organic form like selenomethionine was reported to block the production of inflammatory compounds that directly lead to thyroid destruction or blocks their function. You should know that even if your thyroid gland looks good at the scan and has proper volume. It may be blocked by inflammatory processes that are going inside there.
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Why You Need Selenium
As an essential mineral, getting your daily selenium requirement from dietary sources is important. On average, you should consume 55 micrograms a day to avoid a deficiency, which can reduce your bodys immunity against disease and may affect fertility.
While we only need trace amounts, selenium plays a vital role in:
Reduced Risk of Chronic Disease
Selenium is a potent antioxidant. It works to prevent cell damage in your body caused by factors such as aging, lifestyle choices, and environmental conditions like pollution. Over time, this cell damage or oxidative stress is linked to cancer, heart disease, and cognitive decline.
Your thyroid is a small gland that produces hormones to regulate your bodys metabolic processes. When its not performing correctly such as an underactive thyroid people may experience fatigue, weight gain, depression, and muscle aches. Over time, thyroid risks can contribute to chronic diseases.
Selenium is involved with maintaining healthy thyroid function. Research shows, however, that too much can also negatively affect your thyroid. Unless advised by your doctor, get selenium from food-based sources instead of a supplement to avoid consuming too much.
Selenium Protects The Thyroid Gland From Destruction
In the thyroid gland, selenoprotein called glutathione peroxidase protects the gland against hydrogen peroxide generated for iodide oxidation during the production of thyroid hormones.
Oxidation of iodide is necessary to produce thyroid hormones and in the case of selenium depletion, oxidants that are not used in this process interact in thyroid gland molecules destroying them. That is why selenium deficiency is a risk factor for developing Hashimotos Disease.
From the other side, iodine overconsumption from the diet or worse from supplements is a risk factor of HT development. One of the reasons for that is increased oxidant production and thus, potential thyroid gland destruction.
This stimulates the immune system and may cause inflammation and autoimmune processes. If you are taking any dietary supplements you should really be careful about iodine content in them.
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