How To Naturally Improve Thyroid Health

Women and thryoid

According to the Australian Thyroid Foundation, women are 10 times more likely to develop thyroid problems. We look at the natural approach to improving yours.

According to the Australian Thyroid Foundation, women are 10x more likely to develop thyroid problems. In addition, as you age, you are at a higher risk of experiencing problems with your thyroid. So maintaining and boosting your thyroid health is crucial and will result in improved metabolism, mood, and overall health.    

What Is the Thyroid Gland? 

The thyroid is a small gland that looks like a butterfly, located at the base of your neck, right under your voice box. It secretes and releases many hormones that affect the body’s metabolism and other biological functions. These hormones are called “Thyroid Hormones” and perform many functions, including;

  • Affecting the heart rate by making it beat either faster or slower.
  • Stimulating the lungs to uptake more oxygen 
  • Affecting muscle contractions 
  • Regulating body temperature
  • Controlling metabolic rates (the rates at which we burn calories)
  • Stimulating the metabolism of carbohydrates 

In addition, thyroid hormones play vital roles in the proper functioning of the female reproductive system. They, directly and indirectly, affect the ovaries and the uterus.  

Thyroid Dysfunctions 

Problems in the thyroid gland are usually acquired during the person’s lifetime and they can occur at any point in your life. As you age, you are at a higher risk of developing thyroid problems. 

When the thyroid gland produces excessive hormones, it is called “overactive” and leads to a condition known as hyperthyroidism. In contrast, abnormally low production of thyroid hormones is referred to as hypothyroidism, which is a condition in which the thyroid gland is “underactive”.  

Hypothyroidism is more common in women than in men.  

The symptoms for both conditions vary, but women often experience irregular menstrual cycles and even infertility in both conditions. We have summarised the symptoms for the conditions in the table below.

Hyperthyroidism 

Hypothyroidism 

Weight loss 

Weight gain 

Irritability and nervousness 

Fatigue 

Increased bowel movement 

Constipation 

Fast heart rate 

Low heart rate 

Sensitivity to heat 

Sensitivity to cold 

Brittle skin 

Dry skin 

Irregular periods 

Irregular periods  

 

Natural Ways to Boost and Maintain Thyroid Health 

Because of its many health implications, maintaining and boosting the health of your thyroid gland is crucial.  

If the cause of your thyroid problems is not due to underlying health problems such as cancer or other diseases, then a healthy diet and lifestyle can improve the health of your thyroid.  

Lifestyle

Stress may not directly cause thyroid disorders but it definitely aggravates it.  

Stress renders you more susceptible to health issues. There are many things you can do to reduce your stress levels such as: 

  • Low-impact activities: pilates, walking, light jogging, etc. 
  • Meditation and yoga 
  • Relaxing hobbies 

Food and supplements 

L-Carnitine  

L-carnitine is a compound that helps your body in energy production. It is naturally produced by the liver and the kidneys but we acquire the majority of L-carnitine externally through food.  L-carnitine has been clinically tested as a treatment for hypothyroidism and the data were positive.  Red Meats are the best source for L-carnitine: the redder the meat, the more L-carnitine it contains. Example: beef, pork, fish, and chicken. Dairy products such as milk and cheese are also excellent sources. If you are a vegan and wish to increase your dietary intake of L-carnitine, don’t worry, you can take vegan L-carnitine supplements. 

In the table below, you will find food sources that have the highest content of L-carnitine. 

Food 

Milligrams (mg) per serving

Cooked Beef Steak (4 ounces) 

56-162  

Cooked Ground Beef (4 ounces) 

87-99  

Whole Milk (1 cup) 

 

Cooked Chicken Breast (4 ounces) 

3-5 

Cooked Codfish (4 ounces) 

8             

*This table is adapted from the National Institute of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. 

Selenium –– Selenium is an essential micronutrient that is often embedded in proteins. The thyroid is the organ with the highest amount of selenium in the body because of the vital roles it plays in the production of thyroid hormones. 

study on 6152 individuals, from 2 different areas in China with different selenium content in the water, found that thyroid diseases were lower in the selenium-rich area than in the low-selenium area.  

Selenium supplementation in patients suffering from an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid showed positive effects.   

Selenium is found in soil and its abundance varies from one area to another. This means that the amount of selenium in drinking water and plant-based food depends on the amount of selenium in the soil. 

You can obtain selenium from many sources such as meats, plants, and even nuts. Alternatively, you can also increase your selenium supplementation by taking supplements. 

In the table below, you will find food sources that have the highest content of selenium. 

Food  

Micrograms per serving 

Brazilan Nuts (3 ounces) 

1632 

Cooked Tuna Fish (3 ounces) 

92 

Canned Sardines in oil (3 ounces) 

45 

Enriched Macaroni (1 cup) 

37 

Cooked Beef Steak (3 ounces) 

33 

Roasted Chicken (3 ounces) 

22 

Cottage Cheese (1 cup) 

20 

Cooked Brown Ric (1 cup) 

19 

1 Egg (large) 

15 

Baked beans (1 cup) 

13 

*This table is adapted from the National Institute of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. 

Inositol-Vitamin B8 

You probably have not heard of vitamin B8 as it is more commonly known as inositol. Inositol is actually a sugar that plays a major role in the body’s cellular health.  

Inositol is popular among women related health-topics because of its positive effects on women suffering from polycystic ovaries syndrome (PCOS). But recent research also suggests that inositol supplementation in the form of my-inositol can reduce can boost the health of the thyroid gland. The best sources of inositol are: 

  • Fruits: melon, orange, berries, kiwi, prune, mango, and grapefruit, etc. 
  • Vegetables: artichoke, eggplant, okra, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, mushrooms, etc. 
  • Grains: whole wheat and bran. 
  • Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, and peanuts 
  • Beans: green beans, kidney beans, bento beans, etc. 
  • Meat: chicken, beef, fish, and poultry. 

Inositol is also available as a supplement. The recommended daily intake is 2-4 grams.   

In the table below, you will find food sources that have the highest content of inositol. 

Food 

Inositol milligrams (mg) per serving 

Melon/cantaloupe (1 cup) 

1420 

Grapefruit (1 cup) 

398 

Orange (1 cup) 

307 

Fresh Green beans (1 cup) 

386 

Blackberry (1 cup) 

346 

Fresh Artichoke (1 bud) 

120 

Canned Okra (1 cup) 

234 

Fresh Eggplant (1 cup) 

168 

Cabbage (1 cup) 

140 

Yogurt (1 cup) 

38.4 

Chocolate Milk (1 cup) 

45.6 

Almonds (10) 

52.1 

Walnuts (10) 

39.6 

Peanuts (10) 

20 

Liver chicken (1oz) 

39.3 

Beef Liver (1 oz) 

19.2 

Tuna (1 can) 

36 

                            

Resveratrol 

Resveratrol is a natural compound found in plants that has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties.  In human cells and mice, high doses of resveratrol have been found to have anti-thyroid effects. Resveratrol is mainly found in peanuts, pistachios, blueberries, cranberries, grapes, red and white wine, and dark chocolate. To obtain sufficient dietary intake of resveratrol, most women take supplements.  

The Bottom Line 

Thyroid issues are common in women. The more you age, the more likely you are to experience thyroid problems.  Thyroid hormones control many biological functions, from metabolism to heart rate, to even mood. Any problem in the thyroid will cause cynical symptoms that might affect your lifestyle.   

Many natural compounds can impact the health of your thyroid and improve it. Luckily, they are all present in food sources such as greens, plants, fruits, beans, nuts, and meats. Thus, a healthy and balanced diet will guarantee an adequate intake of these nutrients.  Alternatively, you can have these nutrients in the form of supplements. 

Lastly, thyroid issues are often not quickly detected in routine check-ups. Thyroid problems are common in older Australian women and they are often undiagnosed. If you are experiencing symptoms that do not go away with diet and exercise, please seek medical attention.  

This article provides general information only, and does not constitute health or medical advice. If you have any concerns regarding your health, seek immediate medical attention.

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