Medically reviewed by
Dr. Minako Abe, M.D., Board-certified emergency medicine physician researching the relationship between lifestyle and disease onset in relation to the immune system and cancer, Japan
While some people get enough vitamins and minerals from their diet and hence do not need any nutrient supplements, dietary supplements may be required by some nutrient-deficient patients to complement treatment for an overall enhanced therapeutic outcome.
However, extreme care is necessary when taking any vitamin or mineral supplements. Some dietary supplements may disrupt the proper absorption of your thyroid medication. In fact, some publicly marketed “thyroid-enhancing supplements” tend to exacerbate your pre-existing thyroid condition or cause you to develop complications and symptoms of hyperthyroidism even if you are someone without a pre-existing thyroid condition.
Consult your primary care doctor or endocrinologist before taking vitamin or mineral supplements. Your doctor can test for various nutrient deficiencies to see if you would benefit from supplementation. Depending on the test results, you may not even need these vitamin supplements. However, if found to be deficient in certain vitamins or supplements, you may well benefit from extra supplementation.
It is important that your doctor also knows precisely how much of these supplements you’re taking. This will help your doctor with the next course of action in terms of treatment in case you develop side effects. It is therefore important to be as honest as possible with your doctor about what and how much of the supplements you’re taking.
Minerals like selenium, iodine, and zinc are essential for thyroid function, including thyroid hormone production. Iron is essential for converting inactive thyroxine (T4 hormone) into active triiodothyronine (T3 hormone).
Other nutrients that promote ideal thyroid function include vitamins A, B12, D, and E. Vitamins help combat the underlying causes of thyroid disorders like autoimmune processes. Deficiencies in these vitamins and minerals can result in poor thyroid health and may increase the likelihood of developing a thyroid condition.
This article briefly discusses the following four main vitamins that have been reported to boost thyroid health:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
Vitamin A, or retinol, is a fat-soluble vitamin crucial for vision and reproduction. It also acts as an immune booster and moderates TSH levels. In this way, vitamin A helps to avoid the enlargement of the thyroid gland (a goiter). Vitamin A deficiency may increase your risk of developing an autoimmune disease like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Some food sources of this vitamin include carrots, eggs, sweet potato, and spinach. Researchers have also suggested that premenopausal women could benefit from vitamin A supplements in order to lower their risk of hypothyroidism. Vitamin A reduces autoimmune reactions and processes that could cause thyroid diseases.
It is, however, important to be cautious with vitamin A supplements, as excessive intake could lead to vitamin A toxicity. This can result in dizziness, headaches, abdominal pain, and liver damage.
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin essential for the proper function of nerve cells, the formation of red blood cells, and DNA production. The red blood cells carry oxygen to vital tissues and facilitate energy metabolism. Some signs of vitamin B deficiency are consistent with symptoms of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, such as muscle weakness, fatigue, poor memory, and mood disorders.
Studies have shown that supplements of Vitamin B12 or vitamin B complex can help promote optimal thyroid health in cases of hypothyroidism caused by Hashimoto’s disease, as a deficiency of this vitamin is common in people with this disease.
Similarly, people with Graves’ disease are likely to suffer from a lack of vitamin B12 and may need the required amounts of this vitamin in the form of supplements to boost their thyroid health. Some common food sources of vitamin B include fish, whole grains, eggs, meat, nuts, milk, and legumes.
Some symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include constipation, fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite,consistent with symptoms of hypothyroidism or weight loss consistent with hyperthyroidism. One common hallmark of vitamin B12 deficiency is anemia, a symptom among a significant portion of people with hypothyroidism.
Research indicates that almost half of the people with hypothyroidism also have a vitamin B12 deficiency. This vitamin deficiency has also been linked to rapid cognitive decline as low levels of B12 result in reduced metabolism of neurotransmitters.
A randomized controlled trial aimed at investigating the effects of vitamin supplements on cognitive function among older women with cardiovascular disease and associated risk factors suggests that vitamin B12 supplements enhance cognitive function in people with a nutritional deficiency.
Vitamin D deficiency has been implicated in hypothyroidism (Hashimoto’s disease) and hyperthyroidism (Graves’ disease) and is a likely contributor to symptoms such as joint and muscle pain. Understandably, this vitamin plays a crucial role in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus for bone strengthening and repair.
Food sources of this fat-soluble vitamin include fish liver oils, fatty fish, chicken, beef, egg, and fortified dairy. Sunlight also serves as an indirect source of vitamin D, as the body doesn’t directly obtain the vitamin from sunlight; instead, the skin makes vitamin D when exposed to the sun. For this reason, this vitamin is commonly known as the “sunshine vitamin”.
Researchers have demonstrated that vitamin D suppresses TSH levels, making it ideal for hypothyroid patients, as high TSH levels typically indicate hypothyroidism. Another benefit of sufficient vitamin D in your system is healing the gut. A leaky gut is believed to portend the development of autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s, a major cause of hypothyroidism.
There is no need for vitamin D supplements if your blood work indicates that you have enough serum levels of this nutrient. Excessive levels of vitamin D in your system lead to increased calcium absorption in the gut stemming from vitamin D toxicity and could make you hypercalcemic. Hypercalcemia could cause muscle weakness, loss of appetite, pain, vomiting, and dehydration.
Vitamin E, also known as alpha-tocopherol, is a fat-soluble vitamin naturally found in many plant food sources such as vegetables, vegetable oils, and grains. It is also naturally occurring in eggs, meat, and animal fats. Vitamin E plays vital roles in a number of biological processes in the body, making it beneficial for overall health. Alpha-tocopherol deficiency is common among people with intestinal permeability (leaky gut), a precursor for autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Supplements of this vitamin can help restore the gut health, thyroid health and overall wellbeing of people with Hashimoto’s disease. The antioxidant properties of vitamin E also help protect the cells in the body from possible damage due to oxidative stress.
Vitamin E works best with mineral nutrients like selenium and iodine for optimal antioxidant effects in the body. Research has also shown that Vitamin E is also helpful in mitigating iodine-induced thyroid toxicity.
Vitamin E supplements must be taken with caution, especially if you are expecting to undergo surgery. Vitamin E may interfere with Vitamin K, which aids in blood clotting, and it is recommended to avoid taking this prior to surgery.
This is especially true if you have excessive vitamin E levels in your system (vitamin E toxicity) or are already taking blood thinners.
- Although many vitamin and mineral supplements are generally harmless, they should be taken with caution and as prescribed to avoid any adverse side effects.
- Before taking any vitamin or mineral supplement, consult your primary care doctor or endocrinologist.
- Some vitamins and mineral nutrients that promote thyroid health include vitamins A, vitamin B12, vitamin D, vitamin E, selenium, iodine, iron, and zinc.
- Vitamins A and D help moderate TSH levels and are essential to hypothyroid patients.
- Vitamin A reduces one’s risk of developing an autoimmune disease. Vitamin D works similarly by healing the gut to prevent a leaky gut, which is a precursor of autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s disease.
- Vitamin B12 is required for hypothyroid and hyperthyroid patients, as signs and symptoms of its deficiency are consistent with signs and symptoms of thyroid dysfunction.
- Vitamin B12 also is essential in proper cognitive function and its deficiency may cause cognitive decline.
- Together with selenium and iodine, vitamin E works as an effective antioxidant in the body.
- Vitamin E is likely to cause blood thinning and prevent clotting, especially when consumed in excess. Vitamin E supplements should, therefore, be taken with care to reduce the risk of bleeding.
- Excessive intake of vitamins can lead to accumulation in the body, causing toxicity. Vitamin toxicity often presents undesirable manifestations, such as nausea, dizziness, and headaches.