In Part 1 we discussed what the Thyroid gland is, what it does and what to do if you are concerned that something might be amiss.
In Part 2 we’ll look at what we might be able to do to naturally treat conditions that might lead to issues with the Thyroid.
The role of Iodine in the health of your thyroid gland?
The active thyroid hormone T3 is actually called tri-iodothyronine and as this name indicates each molecule of T3 contains 3 atoms of Iodine. So in order to be produced, a ready supply of Iodine needs to be in the body.
According to World Health Organisation here are the daily requirements for adults;
Pregnant women 250 mcg/day
Breastfeeding women 250 mcg/day
The reason that your requirement is higher during pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding is that you are supplying all the baby’s needs as well as your own. The consequences of the baby being unable to produce sufficient thyroid can be devastating resulting in low IQ or even Cretinism
In the long term, a lack of sufficient Iodine can lead to various problems. As the thyroid gland has difficulty providing enough iodised thyroid hormone (the active T3) it can enlarge in size, trying to harness more Iodine…
What foods contains Iodine?
The body obtains the Iodine it needs from food. The amount of Iodine in food varies considerably not only from food to food but also depends on its origin (country, region, individual farm ~ some have soils deficient in Iodine) and also the season.
Here are some Iodine Rich Foods;
- Seaweed (sea vegetables – kelp*, arame, hiziki, kombu, wakame
- Yoghurt (organic)
- Navy beans (organic)
- Strawberries (organic)
- Cheese (organic)
- Potatoes (organic) – you should learn about the chemicals they use in the non-organic growing of this staple crop – it is scary!!
* NOTE in the case of some seaweed such as kelp which contain very high levels of Iodine it is recommended that Pregnant Women eat it only once a week.
Research has shown that organic milk contains a 40% lower Iodine content than conventional milk so this will presumably knock on to yoghurt and cheese too.
I have found a few figures from reputable sources –
||Average Iodine/portion (mcg) actual Iodine content will vary
|Organic cow’s milk
||1 egg (50g)
||1 slice (36g)
|Fruit and Veg
||1 portion (80g)
** Depending on the season, higher value in winter
What can I do or avoid doing to reduce the risk?
Below you will read a few cautionary statements for specific foods or minerals from the British Thyroid Foundation regarding Iodine and pregnancy.
Some calcium rich foods and supplements interfere with levothyroxine absorption. A gap of 4 hours between the two would be adequate to ensure there is no significant impact on blood thyroxine levels. If you are trying to lose weight and using lower fat milk (i.e. semi-skimmed or skimmed) note that these remain high in calcium despite being lower in fat.
Soya interferes with thyroxine absorption, therefore if you are taking thyroxine you should try to avoid soya. If you wish to take soya, there should be as long a time interval as possible between eating the soya and taking the thyroxine.
There is evidence of certain brands of soya milk being withdrawn from sale by authorities in countries such as Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Japan because they contained excessive amounts of Iodine or being highly enriched with seaweed products that naturally contain Iodine.
Avoid products such as kelp, as they may interfere with thyroid function & wellbeing. Kelp is derived from seaweed and is naturally high in Iodine. Because of this it is sometimes marketed as a “thyroid booster” and can be purchased in dry preparations and tablets. As with Iodine itself, it is of no health benefit to those with thyroid disease.
People with hypothyroidism should avoid preparations high in Iodine as it can make the condition paradoxically worse. Additionally, in certain people it could provoke hyperthyroidism.
The British Thyroid Association has issued the following statement on the use of Iodine supplements and we have advised our members accordingly
- The thyroid gland requires Iodine for normal function. Adults need 150mcg of Iodine per day.
- Typically we obtain the Iodine we need from a normal healthy, balanced diet. Table & cooking salt in the UK contains little or no Iodine. Too little Iodine can result in thyroid swelling (a goitre). Goitre in the UK is not due to Iodine deficiency Too much Iodine can be dangerous and cause either under activity of the thyroid (hypothyroidism) or, in some cases over activity (hyperthyroidism).
- If you are taking thyroid hormone (eg. levothyroxine) for hypothyroidism or for a goitre (an enlarged thyroid gland) there is no need to supplement with Iodine. It will do no good.
- Also, it can be harmful and dangerous to take Iodine if you have an overactive thyroid, even if you are on standard anti thyroid drugs, as the extra Iodine counteracts their effects.
- Should you take Iodine supplements at any time? Only if it is recommended by your GP or hospital consultant.
Some medications such as iron tablets (ferrous sulphate) can interfere with the absorption of thyroxine. Some doctors recommend a two-hour interval between taking thyroxine and the iron. Follow the advice or your doctor or pharmacist. Be aware that some multi vitamin tablets contain iron.
Brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower kale)
Brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower, kale etc) may contribute to formation of a goitre (enlargement of the thyroid gland) in some cases, but consumption needs to be very high before this is a real concern. In the UK, under normal dietary conditions, this is not normally a problem and the risk is very low.
There are also other risks to the health of the thyroid. A few things which can stimulate thyroid problems include cigarettes, plastics (PCBs) and the body’s own natural oestrogens as well as the xenoestrogens coming from our industrial pollution.
Where can I get more information?
Issues with the Thyroid during pregnancy are one of many common pregnancy health complaints that can be treated with alternative or complementary therapies. If you’d like to find out more you can grab a copy of my book “Alternative Therapies in Pregnancy and Beyond” at the link below. For a limited time only you can buy the book for a huge 75% off the normal retail price. You’ll also pick up a few free bonuses as well.
Just go to www.alternativetherapiesinpregnancy.com, hit the Buy Now button, and where the purchase form asks for a coupon, enter the following code exactly:
Book; Dr Sandra Cabot and Margaret Jasinska ND Your Thyroid Problems Solved: Holistic Solutions to Improve Your Thyroid
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/endocrine/pregnancy-and-thyroid-disease/Pages/fact-sheet.aspx
The Association of UK Dieticians (BDA)
British Thyroid Foundation
Fluoride Action Network
If you wish to join a forum specifically for discussion amongst people with thyroid problems this may be the place for you