Selenium is a mineral found in the soil, and is naturally occurring in very small amounts in some foods and water. Although our bodies require very small amounts of selenium, certain parts of the world have now been found to have selenium deficient soil, and thus lead to more selenium deficient foods. Recent research shows that selenium may be helpful in treating Hypothyroidism. Here’s why.
1. In areas where the soil is low in selenium, it has been shown that people are more likely to develop Hashimoto’s disease, one of the most common forms of Hypothyroidism in North America.
2. In one study, when patients suffering from various forms of thyroid disease were tested for selenium levels, all were found to be lower than normal healthy people without thyroid disease.
3. The thyroid contains more selenium by weight than any other organ. Selenium is a key part of the enzymes that remove iodine molecules from the thyroid hormoneT4 converting it into the active thyroid hormone T3. Therefore without selenium there would be no activation of thyroid hormone. Additionally, selenium plays a important role in protecting the thyroid gland against oxidative damage.
4. Do you take iodine? Without adequate selenium, high iodine levels can lead to destruction of the thyroid gland cells.
In a placebo controlled study published in 2002, German researchers reported on an experiment in which they gave 200 mcg of selenium daily to patients with Hashimoto’s disease and high levels of thyroid peroxidase antibodies (Read more about thyroid testing and antibodies here). After three months, the thyroid peroxidase antibody levels of the patients taking selenium were decreased by 66.4% compared to their pre-treatment values, and antibody levels returned to normal in nine of the selenium treated patients. However, in 2008 researchers in Austria reported that they were not able to duplicate the results of the earlier study. They suggested that selenium supplementation might be of greater benefit to patients with higher disease activity, or higher levels of antibodies prior to starting the selenium therapy.
Foods high in selenium include:
- Brazil nuts
- Yellowfin Tuna
- Grass Fed Meat
However, as mentioned above, selenium levels in our food sources may have decreased, or may vary greatly. If you are struggling with thyroid disease, talk to your health care provider to see if selenium may be helpful for you!
Yours in Health,
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- Lifeextension, “Thyroid Regulation” accessed November 2017.
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