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The Top Five Supplements for Thyroid Support
A Review by Richard Shames, M.D. & Karilee Shames, Ph.D., R.N.

For those of you who are reading this, and feel you only have one minute to spare, here's the short version: be sure to take a strong multivitamin with minerals along with a couple of grams of Vitamin C each day. This has to be high-quality, such as can be purchased from reputable health food stores, as opposed to some of the larger national drug store brands in the same category as Centrum or Centrum Silver. Most nationally-advertised multiple vitamins sold in drugstores do not have the potency nor the bioavailability that thyroid sufferers need.

For those who have the time to read on, there are two general categories of need that we would like to describe. The first is those folks who have reasonable health, and who are looking to cover the major nutritional bases in terms of thyroid hormone synthesis and utilization. For these people, we can describe the nutrients that researchers tell us are crucial for proper thyroid function.

The first, of course, is iodine, which - as we have described in our book Thyroid Power: 10 Steps to Total Health, is very much a double-edged sword for thyroid sufferers. You absolutely need it, but not too much of it. The latest study, to look at this more carefully, was a 1999 report in Nutritional Review, by Lee, Bradley, Dwyer. These researchers tell us that the size of the population with iodine deficiency is now close to 10% of men, and 20% of women. However, the other 80-90% do not need extra iodine, and for many of this majority, additional iodine can become a thyroid problem.

What to do? If you are a person who never consumes fast food, avoids salt like the plague, doesn't eat much seafood, and feels that sea vegetables are for fish, and especially if you live more than 100 miles from any coast, then you might well consider supplementation with iodine, the key mineral in thyroid hormone production.

If you are not in this category, you would probably do well to not take extra iodine, as you're likely to be getting more than enough from other sources, such as iodized salt and the natural sources of fish and sea vegetables.

This iodine dilemma is the major nutritional problem facing everyone. Worldwise, iodine deficiency diseases account for incalculable suffering in the form of goiter, miscarriage, infertility, and terrible sickness affecting over one billion people on the planet. This is a significant percentage of the human race. However, in the US, the problem has been thought eliminated by the widespread distribution of iodine, first in bread dough, and in salt. Recently however, there has been resurgence of iodine deficiency, even in our country. It is a problem for specific people.

Researchers are presently working to develop a reliable and effective test for iodine, but at this point, we are not convinced that the available tests are up for the task. In light of all this, some thyroid specialists are suggesting that you hedge your bets and simply ingest each day an amount of iodine that will help if you are too low, but won't hurt if you are already sufficient. This amount appears to be about 100 mcg (micro-grams) per day. However, if you find that you feel sick after eating iodized foods, you may want to avoid this nutrient.

As you can see, the minerals may be more important for thyroid production than the vitamins, because the next two items on the list are the minerals selenium and zinc. Selenium is crucial in both the production of T-4 thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in the thyroid gland, as well as in the conversion of T-4 to T-3 thyroid hormone, the active form (thyronine). Zinc is needed both before and after these production and conversion processes. Zinc is necessary for the TRH hypothalamus hormone to stimulate the pituitary gland, which signals the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormone.

Moreover, zinc is needed at the intracellular level to help the thyroid nuclear receptors attach and drive the reading of the DNA genetic code. Keep in mind that the main function of thyroid hormone is to help put the genetic code into action.

Regarding selenium, we suggest 200 mcg (micro-grams) per day. This is, again, more than is contained in the common multiple mineral products. For zinc, we believe you can take at least 10 mg per day; please keep in mind that when taking 10-25 mg. of zinc, you need to balance that with one mg copper for the zinc-copper ration so useful for thyroid patients. Therefore a good product would contain 1-2 mg of copper in addition to the zinc.

In addition to these minerals, vitamin D is necessary for thyroid hormone production in the pituitary gland, and possibly in the early stages of T-3 (thyronine) binding to its receptor. Vitamin E is part of the necessary supporting apparatus that enables the deiodinase enzyme to convert T-4 (inactive thyroid hormone) into T-3 (the active type).

It now appears that the amount of vitamin D people need has been grossly under-estimated, nor is it as toxic as first was thought. We recommend at least 800 IU of Vitamin D daily.

The amount of vitamin E needed has likewise been undersold; we recommend 400-800 IU daily. This turns out to be more than is provided in most multiple vitamins, yet it allows for excellent antioxidant protection as well as helping menopausal women avoid hot flashes without resorting to estrogen.

There you have it - the 5 most essential nutrients for feeding the thyroid gland. Keep in mind, however, that these researchers based their studies, for the most part, on fairly healthy individuals. If you have had a thyroid problem of some duration, or if you have some other illness, in addition to your thyroid problem, then other recommendations apply to you. These include:
There you have it. Optimal thyroid nutrients can make an incredible difference, whether you are taking natural and/or synthetic medicines for your condition. For those who have special complex individualized needs, nutritional thyroid coaching sessions with Dr. Rich Shames are available to help speed your recovery, for any location, through a coaching session. See for more information.

Note from Mary: How Can You Meet The Shames' Recommendations?

It may sound complicated to meet all of the Shames' recommendations regarding supplements, but it's actually not, because I've worked it all out for you! (Note: These are my own recommendations regarding what I take. The Shames did not specify any brands.)


First, as a base, I highly recommend that your multivitamin/antioxidant/enzyme/mineral combination be Jacob Teitelbaum, MD's "Fatigued to Fantastic!" Fatigued to Fantastic Energy Revitalization. This is the vitamin I take daily, and I find it very effective. It comes in a powdered vitamin formula, which I love, because I really don't want to have to pop a million pills every day. When mixed with water, it makes a tasty citrus flavored drink, and is so packed with vitamins, minerals and supplements that it actually can replace more than 20 different supplement pills a day. It's a comprehensive vitamin formula that was designed for thyroid, autoimmune, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia patients, but is actually an excellent daily multivitamin for anyone.

Fatigued to Fantastic Energy Revitalization includes, among many nutrients:
  • Iodine -- about 100 mcg (micro-grams) per day
  • Selenium -- 200 mcg (micro-grams) per day
  • Zinc -- 10 mg per day, plus 500 mcg of Copper
  • Vitamin D -- 600 IU
  • Vitamin E -- 100 IU
  • Vitamin C -- 750 mg
  • Vitamin A -- 3,500 IU
  • Amino acids -- L-Alanine, L-Arginine, L-Aspartic Acid, L-Cystine, L-Glutamic Acid, L-Clycine, L-Histidine, L-Isoleucine, L-Luceine, L-Lysine, L-Methionine, L-Phenylalanine, L-Proline, L-Serine, L-Taurine, L-Theronine, L-Tryptophan, L-Tyrosine, L-Valine
Multivitamin -- Powder Formula

Enzymatic Therapy, Fatigued to Fantastic! Energy Revitalization System, Berry Splash, 19 oz (540 g)
Vitamin C -- Dissolvable Crystals

Rainbow Light, makes a wonderful dissolvable Vitamin C in powder form. You can mix in into your vitamin powder, to up the intake of vitamin C easily.
Essential Fatty Acids

Source Naturals has a unique formula that includes various omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids from fish, borage and flaxseed oils in the right proportions.
Vitamins A & D

Nature's Way, Vitamin A and D, 15,000 IU and 400 IU, 100 Capsules

So, one vitamin drink and a few capsules, you've covered all your nutritional bases!
Original Article 2003,, Revised article 2007.

Sticking Out Our Necks and this website are Copyright Mary Shomon, 1997-2007. All rights reserved. Mary Shomon, Editor/Webmaster
All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult your physician or health practitioner before starting a new fitness regimen. Please see our full disclaimer.