Here is what I have learned so far in my journey. I am not an expert and testing is highly suggested before attempting to treat anything. Many times, symptoms can overlap one or more deficiencies so treating without testing properly can wreak more havoc.
When I first discovered I was hypothyroid, I had no clue there was more to the story. Hypothyroidism causes a chain reaction. I’m not sure if it’s the vital nutrients that cause hypothyroidism or hypothyroidism causes the deficiencies. According to Stop the Thyroid Madness, thyroid patients have poor absorption issues which can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. So let’s take a look at the common deficiencies in thyroid patients.
1.) Iron- Iron plays a big role in the thyroid function. It also plays a role in the production of cortisol. Thyroid patients also tend to have adrenal fatigue. If you are hypothyroid or Hashimotos, you could very well be Iron Deficient or not optimal like I am. If you are being treated for Hypothyroidism with a Natural Dessicated Thyroid, are on a dose of higher than 2 grains, and you are still experiencing hypothyroid symptoms, you need to check your iron. A deficiency in Iron can cause a host of issues such as fatigue, weakness, low body temp, decreased immune, and just feeling tired.
I can’t stress enough how important checking your levels of iron are when you’re hypothyroid. Low iron can cause multiple symptoms. Some of the symptoms I personally experience from not being optimal was air hunger, breathing through my mouth a lot, being winded or out of breath very easily like walking around, cleaning, pale skin tone, easily fatigued, poor recovery after activities, and even talking. If you would like to know more about the symptoms of low iron, check out Iron and Hypothyroidism.
How to test for low iron?
You will need to test the following;
TIBC (Total Iron Binding Capacity)
If you decide to test your iron, you can ask your doctor to run lab work and specifically ask for your ferritin, serum iron, TIBC, and Sat %. Or if you want order your own labwork, a good place to go through is MyMedLab. I have used MyMedLab and it was easy. The test was about $50 for full iron panel. I ordered the test online. Then find the closest clinics near you. I had to drive about 30 minutes to the closest lab but it was super easy. I didn’t have to make an appointment (this may vary by clinic). I walked in and about 15-20 minutes later my blood was drawn. Then they posted my labs online. I compared them to the knowledge on STTM Optimal Lab Values- How to interpret lab results. If trying to interpret your own labwork seems a little scary or confusing, join the online Facebook group FTPO-Thyroid Topics. I have seen numerous people post a picture of their results and ask how to understand the results on the page. Many of the members are more than happy to help. And don’t be afraid to ask questions. They may direct you to another sister group if your question regards hormones, T3, Adrenals, etc.
By the way, you can order many different kinds of labwork from MyMedlab. There are other online places to go through as well. For more sites like MyMedlab and other information regarding what labwork you need if your suspect hypothyroidism, visit STTM’s Recommended Labwork.
Too much of anything can also be bad. I highly advise not to supplement with iron unless you know for certain that you need it. High levels of iron can cause hemochromatosis. If you do in fact need to supplement with iron, retest your bloodwork every 4-6 weeks. Also, iron can often cause constipation. I highly recommend Solgar Gentle Iron as it seems to be more gentle on your bowels. The first week I took it, it did cause a little discomfort and constipation. I had tried some other brands that were horrific. After about a week, any discomfort was gone.
2.)Vitamin D- Most Americans are deficient in Vitamin D. Thyroid patients are also effected. Stop the Thyroid Madness (STTM) explains why Vitamin D is good for thyroid patients. Vitamin D is good for strengthening the immune system, reduces inflammation, cell growth, neuromuscular and good health. Also check out my article about Cod Liver Oil and Vitamin A, D, K.
3.) B12- Vitamin B12 aids in the production of DNA, prevents anemia, beneficial to the nervous system, and the blood cells. Vitamin B12 deficiencies can cause numbness or tingling in arms, legs, or feet, tremors, slow reflexes, leg pain, being off balance, weak, breathless,infertility, memory problems, irritability, brain fog, depression and more. I personally have experienced muscle twitching. It took me a while to figure out why or what was causing my sudden muscle twitching until I began supplementing with a higher dose of B12. Then for a week, I tried to cut my B12 supplements in half assuming I had raised my levels. Man was I wrong. After only a week of cutting down my B12 dose, my twitching muscles began to come back. I began having random spasms in my hands, face, shoulders, and other areas. I began taking the high dose once again, and they went away. As if I had not learned my lesson, I decided to stop taking my B12 again. Yet again, the twitching came back. Brain fog came back with a revenge. Maybe I have learned my lesson but only time will see.
One more thing about Vitamin B12. Not all Vitamin B12 is equal. You will need to look for Methylcobalamin B12. I won’t go into all the details about why but if your interested in the different kinds of B12 and why you want Methylcobalamin, you can read about it at Stop the Thyroid Madness- B12 or in Chapter 13 of Stop the Thyroid Madness: A patient Revolution Agaist Decades of Inferior Treatment. I personally use Jarrow Formulas Methyclobalamin B12. I take 2,500 mcg of B12 each day per recommended by my doctor and does the trick for me but the dosing might vary from patient to patient. B12 is water soluble making it hard to overdose or create B12 toxicity. Basically, if you take too much your body will excrete the extra through your urine unlike iron which gets stored up in your body. But you don’t want to take more than your body needs and it can make you feel sick to your stomach. Basically what I am saying is, just because I take 2,500 mcg of B12, doesn’t mean this is the right dose for you.
4.) Iodine– There is a lot of controversy over Iodine supplementation for thyroid patients especially Hashimotos. I am not a doctor and I always suggest to do your own research, consult your practitioner and listen to your body. I just like sharing what I have learned.
Like most supplements, not all are made equal. When looking into Iodine, check out Lugol’s Iodine Solution. (To Learn more about Lugol’s Iodine Solution, check out Dr Sircus article. Lugol’s isn’t a brand, it is a formula of Iodine and Iodide. There are many brands out there that are considered Lugol’s formula.) Many thyroid patients including Hashimotos report postie effects using this protocol. Iodine is a critical element for normal thyroid function. The thyroid gland takes iodine converts it to T4 (Thyroxine) and T3 (Triiodothyronine). If your body doesn’t have iodine, your thyroid can not produce T3 and T4. Go here to understand more about How your thyroid works and how it utilizes Iodine.
Iodine will help eliminate toxins from the body including bromide.
Most Iodine Protocols will suggest to accompany your Lugol’s solution with:
Selenium (200-400 mcg per day)
Magnesium glycinate or citrate (300-600mg) per daiy
Vitamin C (2000-4000) mg daily
Unrefined Salt ( Himalayan Salt, Real Salt, and Celtic Salt.) – 1/2 tsp + per day added to diet.
I wrote an article about the benefits of Himalayan Salt, in case you missed it. My N.P. also advised to take 1/4 tsp of unprocessed salt in 8 oz of warm water 2x daily as needed to flush toxins. This is done together with the previous dosing. This is close to the making of your own Sole.
One of the groups that follow Dr. Brownstein’s idea on the Lugol’s protocol suggests only to use the Celtic and Real Salt. They state they use a Lugol’s formula but do not support Kelp because of the pollution of the oceans. But they only recommend the Celtic salt. Which in my opinion, you’re still looking at the same pollution in the Celtic Salt as you would be in supplementing with Kelp. They also state that they don’t recommend Himalayan Salt because the dynamite used in the mines can pollute the salt. According to the resources I have read, this is false. Dynamite is prohibited in the Himalayan Mountains to protect the quality of the salt. That being said, a switch to any of the unrefined salts from common table salt is beneficial to the body.
I personally take a supplement that I get from my N.P.’s office. It contains the Lugol’s formula (iodine and Iodide), selenium, zinc, and potassium.
5.) Selenium- As mentioned above, Selenium is usually suggested when following the Iodine Protocol. If you choice to supplement Iodine, it is highly recommended you take selenium along with Iodine and visa versa. Iodine without the selenium could damage the thyroid. Selenium without the iodine can impair the thyroid even further. You can read more about the subject at Stop The Thyroid Madness:Companion Nutrients: The Key to Success on the Iodine Protocol under Selenium.
6.) Magnesium- Again, most Americans are deficient in magnesium and thyroid patients are not excluded. Check out my previous blog post about how to make magnesium oil.
7.) Adrenals – While your adrenals are not a vitamin/mineral deficiency, many hypothyroid patients find their adrenals fatigued. I have adrenal fatigue probably caused by my excessive workouts. Some of the symptoms I suffered from and other symptoms of adrenal fatigue include;
- inability to fall asleep at night
- hard time getting up in the morning
- easily defensive
- poor stamina
- easily exhausted
- not coping well with certain people or events in life
- waking up frequently throughout the night
- startling easily
- inabilty to handle stress
- craving salty foods
- high energy levels in the evening and poor energy levels in the morning
- weakened immune system
- poor circulation
This is not complete list of all the symptoms. If you suspect adrenal fatigue the 24 hour saliva adrenal test will give you a good idea if you suffer from it. There is also bloodwork you can do but in the case of testing ones adrenals, the saliva test is the better. If you would like to know why check out How Adrenals can wreak havoc. You will also need to know what type adrenal issues you have to supplement wisely;
-High Cortisol: Many patients do well with Holy Basil for high cortisol issues. Zinc and PS are also recommended.
-See Saw mix of high and lows- This is the one I suffered from. I used Organic India Ashwagandha 400 mg 1x a day. Some other adaptogenic herbs to consider are Rhodiola, Relora, Eleuthero, Maca, Schisandra.
-Low Cortisol: Adaptogenic herbs might not work as well with this adrenal issue. It is recommended you read Chapter 15 in STTM II. Some have results from an OTC adrenal cortex but most need a prescription type of adrenal cortex to correct their adrenals.
For more information about the different types of adrenals issues, please see Wisdom in treatment of adrenal issues. If you need help interpreting your saliva test, please join the STTM thyroid facebook page (Adrenals). They can help you understand your results. You can upload a picture of your labs or just type in your results. When I started, I didn’t fully understand my labs. I posted my results and the members help me understand how to treat.
Some other supplements to consider ***Before supplementing with anything, blood work is highly recommended. Sometimes you can think it is one thing based off of symptoms when it really is something different. In my personal experience, trying to self diagnose without bloodwork only makes things worse.
- A good whole foods multivitamin-*** this may or may not be necessary. If you take other supplements, you’ll want to check the label and make sure your not getting too much of a certain vitamin or mineral. Brands I recommend are Nature’s Plus, New Chapter, Garden of Life, Solaray
- Vitamin C- 1,000 mcg is typically the recommended dosing for hypothyroid patients. Vitamin C can helps reduce stress and cortisol so this might be a good supplement for adrenal patients.
- Apple Cider Vinegar (Braggs or an organic version) Read STTM article about how ACV can help low levels of stomach acid which aids in the absorption. Absorption Issues and Stomach Acid
- Clary Sage Essential Oils is good for balancing Hormones( I recommend Rocky Mountain Oils, Plant Therapy, Nature’s Gift or Essential Vitality by Queens Homeschooling)
- Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy ***Only take if you are in fact deficient in one of them. I had an experience with taking them and had some side effects. My N.P. advised me to take testosterone. It wasn’t until I compared my bloodwork with other resources to find I didn’t need the hormones she was administrating. Doctors and N.P. are still people and they make mistakes too. Just because your doc tells you one thing doesn’t mean it is set in stone. Many doctors will disagree with one another on particular topics. You need to be your biggest advocate. Most importantly, listen to your body. If your doc says this will make you feel better and it makes you feel worse, listen to your body.***
Books and Resources I recommend for hypothyroidism
If you have noticed, I have linked MANY times to Stop the Thyroid Madness. If you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism or suspect you are hypothyroid check out STTM site. There is SOOOO much information on their site alone. And at first, it can be overwhelming because there is so much information. Take your time and work through it. A good place to start is Getting Your Ducks in a Row. And while their site is sooooo resourceful I HIGHLY recommend the book Stop the Thyroid Madness: A Patient Revolution to Decades of Inferior Treatment. If you are hypothyroid, you may find it very difficult to make it through the book at first. I, like many other hypothyroid patients, had trouble reading through all the information. And trust me, it is a lot of information. But if you will take it slowly and keep chugging along, you will slowly but surely begin getting your ducks in a row.
Stop the Thyroid Madness II is also another good book to check out but it is more heavy on the medical lingo. Starting out, I suggest the 1st book. A few more books to check out are Why Do I still have hypothyroidism symptoms? by Dr. Datis Kharrazian, Living well with Hypothyroidism by Mary J. Shomon, Feeling Fat, Fuzzy, or Frazzled by Richard Shames and Hypothyroidism: Health and Happiness by Steven F Hotze. If you go to Hotze Health & Welness site, you can request a free copy of his books, you pay $6.97 for shipping. You have to scroll down on the main page to see the link to request a free copy. His Health and Happiness is a good read regarding why hypothyroidism is often undiagnosed, mistreated, and plainly overlooked. Some of these books I have read while some of them are on my book list. The ones I have not read but still recommend are ones many other hypothyroid patients highly recommend. If you want to start with just one, the book at the top of the list is Stop the Thyroid Madness: A Patient Revolution to Decades of Inferior Treatment.
Your biggest weapon….
There is so much information and hypothyroidism is so complex. Your biggest weapon is knowledge. It will take time and energy you may not have but be patient. It will be so frustrating especially if your doctor will not work with you and if they simply will not, find another doc. Keep learning and eventually you can begin to feel better. I had felt bad for so long, I didn’t know what it was to feel good anymore. It has taken me 2.5 years to start feeling better. I have began to slowly but surely get my ducks in a row. It’s taken a while and still have a ways to go but I wouldn’t go back to how I felt before. I feel I have only began to scratch the surface but I want to share any bit of information I have learned with others who are suffering like I once did. I cried and prayed for so long for the answers. And it started out with not being able to lose weight. I tried and tried and tried. I would cry and get so frustrated but eventually I felt so rotten I began to realize something wasn’t right. My mindset changed from wanting to lose weight to I need to be healthy and want to feel better. The answers didn’t magically fall into my lap. It was a push here, lots of prayers, patience, and a lot of reading.
I hope that this information will be useful to others . I have said it before in my posts and I will say it again. I am not a doctor, N.P. or in the medical field. I am human and I can get things wrongs so ALWAYS do your own research. Compare the information I present you with other information. Also, every person is unique. While I might have had success with Ashwagandha, someone else might have had side effects.
What are your thoughts? Has there been any supplements you have found helpful to the common hypothyroid deficiencies? Any side effects?