The wonder behind mineral #3, Zinc, for maintaining healthy thyroid function. We have already discussed Selenium and Iodine. Zinc is wonder mineral and support of over 300 functions carried out by our wonderful bodies! Thyroid health is just part of what this mineral does for us.
Let’s have a closer look at Zinc.
From a food standpoint, zinc may be a less familiar dietary mineral than iron, calcium or sodium. It is very important to our metabolism. Like magnesium, zinc is used as a co-factor by a number of critical enzymes. There are more than 300 zinc-dependent enzymes in the human body. So, even a mild dietary deficiency of zinc can health implications. Thyroid function is just one of several.
The importance of this mineral to multiple body systems makes it even more important for us to get an adequate amount of zinc in our daily diet. Although there is some amount of zinc in many whole – unprocessed – foods, no individual food ranks as an excellent source of this mineral except maybe oysters. What this indicates to me, is throwing a wide net over my diet and ensuring I vary my diet to include as many natural sources of zinc as I can before adding supplements. I have included a food chart for you below. Its very detailed and may help you priorities where you source your zinc.
Before we venture down the food track, lets have look at all the functions this mineral supports in our bodies. I suspect you will have a greater apparition for this wonderful mineral. Also keep in mind, you need 11 milligrams from your diet or supplements daily to maintain these functions.
How Zinc supports the body
Immune Function – Diets low in zinc can induce measurable reductions in the activity of the immune system. These reductions occur relatively quickly, in a matter of weeks. And can be restored very quickly once zinc levels are restored. Elderly individuals are especially prone to developing reduced immunity related to poor zinc nutrition. Even in this at-risk population, restoring zinc status appears to reverse the detrimental changes within weeks.
According to The Worlds Healthiest Foods (WHFoods) website, one research group has gone so far as to recommend using a Mediterranean-style diet to protect against zinc deficiency in elderly individuals.
Skin Health – Researchers have been able to induce acne symptoms in young men by feeding them diets deficient in zinc. This effect occurs surprisingly quickly, with one research group demonstrating a significant change in skin health within 12 days of depleted zinc foods. Other researchers have been able to demonstrate a number of other skin and related symptoms, including facial rash, foot fungus, and canker sores. Again, each of these changes was reversed when zinc was brought back into the diet. The significance of this study suggests that too little zinc from your diet can be a factor in compromising skin health, and that it’s worthwhile building your zinc intake up to recommended levels in order to support the health of your skin.
Sensory Organs (taste and sight) – Acute depletion of zinc can causes loss of the sense of taste and appetite. The level of zinc deficiency necessary to cause these changes appears to be more severe than the immune system changes. The other factor that can affect taste is often related to cancer treatment or anorexia. One study suggests that about 15% of elderly people who lost their sense of taste did so due to zinc deficiency, and some others did so due to more serious conditions. If you lose your sense of taste, make sure to report this to your doctor.
Zinc is also critical to vision. It works together with vitamin A to help sense light and to send nerve impulses to the brain. Although we don’t currently know how much of age-related vision loss is due to zinc deficiency, researchers have shown that zinc levels in the retina (the part of the eye that sees light) decline in tandem with vision loss.
Male Reproductive Health – Advanced deficiency of zinc can impair motility and number of sperm. In one study, young male volunteers ate a diet with only 10% of the Daily Value requirement (15 milligrams) for a little over a month. Researchers measured sperm quality and quantity before and after the zinc-deficient diet. This study demonstrated that even brief periods of severe zinc deficiency can lead to measurable changes in sperm composition and quantity. Studies correlating diseases known to impair zinc nutrition with reduced fertility seem to second this conclusion.
Thyroid Health – according to Dr. Nikolas Hedberg – “Of all the supplements out there for thyroid health, zinc may actually be my favorite because of its versatility and broad-spectrum use. Many supplements are only effective for one aspect of thyroid function, but Zinc is effective for many types of thyroid dysfunction. The T3 receptor requires zinc to function properly so a deficiency may result in subclinical hypothyroidism even though your lab tests look normal. Additionally, zinc is required for proper conversion of T4 into T3.
Zinc is also the second most abundant element in the body second only to iron. You must have adequate zinc levels to properly metabolize vitamin D and vitamin A, both of which are vital for thyroid health. Proper thyroid hormone levels are required for zinc absorption and metabolism, and zinc is required for healthy thyroid function. This creates a vicious cycle if either one of these becomes out of balance.
Zinc-Adrenal-Thyroid Connection – Excessive cortisol levels will impair thyroid function in many ways including abnormal TSH levels, decreased conversion of T4 into T3, and elevated reverse T3. For those who are under a lot of stress, zinc supplementation has been shown to lower cortisol levels thus reducing the negative effects of stress on your thyroid.”
For more information and for your own research, I recommend further reading from these wonderful writers:
The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution by Aviva Romm, M.D.
Hashimoto’s Protocol by Izabella Wentz PharmD, FASCP
The Thyroid Connection by Amy Myers, MD
What about Signs of low zinc?
So how do you know if you are low on zinc? Great questions and as usual our unique bodies give us signs – we just need to learn to read these signs. Here are a few for you to consider:
Slow wound healing
White spots on your fingernails
Hair loss (alopecia)
Poor immune system function (you catch everything that is going around and it takes forever to get better)
Impotence and low testosterone in men
Poor brain function
Insulin resistance (difficulty metabolizing carbohydrates)
Poor vision and hearing
Loss of taste
Low Free T4 and Free T3 levels (30% decrease in Zinc deficiency)
Elevated reverse T3
Elevated thyroid antibodies (including thyroid peroxidase and anti-thyroglobulin
Low growth hormone levels)
Ah and the wonders of Whole Foods!
What wonderful foods can you enjoy in your diet that will help you maintain your daily zinc requirements. According to The Worlds Healthiest Foods these are the foods can and should add into your diet in addition to Oysters.
Note about oysters – a typical oyster weighing approximately one ounce will contain about 8-9 milligrams of zinc. So, two oysters would put you over the WHFoods recommended daily amount of 11 milligrams.
|World’s Healthiest Foods ranked as quality sources of
|Beef||4 oz||175.0||4.09||37||3.8||very good|
|Spinach||1 cup||41.4||1.37||12||5.4||very good|
|Asparagus||1 cup||39.6||1.08||10||4.5||very good|
|Mushrooms, Shiitake||0.50 cup||40.6||0.96||9||3.9||very good|
|Mushrooms, Crimini||1 cup||15.8||0.79||7||8.2||very good|
|Sesame Seeds||0.25 cup||206.3||2.79||25||2.2||good|
|Pumpkin Seeds||0.25 cup||180.3||2.52||23||2.3||good|
|Garbanzo Beans||1 cup||269.0||2.51||23||1.5||good|
|Green Peas||1 cup||115.7||1.64||15||2.3||good|
|Beet Greens||1 cup||38.9||0.72||7||3.0||good|
|Summer Squash||1 cup||36.0||0.70||6||3.2||good|
|Swiss Chard||1 cup||35.0||0.58||5||2.7||good|
|Brussels Sprouts||1 cup||56.2||0.51||5||1.5||good|
|Sea Vegetables||1 TBS||10.8||0.33||3||5.0||good|
|Bok Choy||1 cup||20.4||0.29||3||2.3||good|
Table direct from The Worlds Healthiest Foods website.
Let’s put this into practical terms…
To summarize, the mineral zinc is essential for our overall health and wellbeing. There are more than 300 zinc-dependent enzymes in the human body. And when we lack zinc, the impacts can be observed visually and physically. Zinc supports multiple hormone conversions for proper Thyroid function – as well as supporting our sense of taste, sight, male fertility and skin health. It also is a huge support to our immunity. Additionally, zinc helps with elevated cortisol levels resulting from extreme stress, which can result in an overabundance of reverse T3. An overabundance of reverse T3 has the symptoms of Hypothyroidism. Which affected me for several years!
Your turn. Now is the time to ensure you are getting your daily dose of zinc. The daily recommend amount adults need is 11 milligrams. Refer to the chart above and enjoy a wide range of foods, daily, in your diet. Try to ensure a zinc rich food makes into your weekly meal plan for daily consumption, and enjoy the riches your diet can offer your bodies ongoing health.
To Your Good Health!
The Wonders of Iodine and Your Thyroid Health
Last week I shared the start of journey to support your thyroid while exploring foods for specific minerals which have shown to support our thyroid. The start of our journey was around the mineral Selenium. What did you think? Was the information helpful? Are you eating your Brazil nuts?
This week we continue to have a closer at our Thyroid. We are looking at Iodine, one of the 5 essential minerals for optimal Thyroid health..
In our overall human population about 1/3 of us are deficient in Iodine -. Hmm, I wonder if we are aware of this. Do you know if you are deficient? Did you know that iodine is one of 5 critical minerals to support healthy thyroid hormone production? Our bodies don’t produce this mineral we need to get it from our food.
Your thyroid gland is uniquely different from the adrenals and ovaries/testes because the thyroid makes hormones from iodine while the adrenals and gonads both produce fat soluble hormones made from cholesterol. This goes along way to understanding that in order to have the thyroid producing thyroid hormones, we need iodine in the body! And yes, you can get this from your diet. And you can also use supplementation. Before you make any changes however, I would recommend you have your iodine levels checked. Adults typically require 150 micrograms (mcg) per day. Pregnant and breastfeeding women need 200 mcg per day.
Whole Food sources of iodine are found in many types of foods and are most concentrated in foods like:
diary (more from the production process then the food)
Iodised salt (not your best option)
Soy (NOT IN EXCESS)
Cruciferous vegetables – cabbage/broccoli/cauliflower/brussels sprouts (NOT IN EXCESS)
Sea vegetables – Arame/Nori/Kombu/Wakame/Hijiki/Dulse/Agar/Kelp
The human body is not capable of manufacturing iodine; so it needs to source it from our food and supplements. We also know where we can source iodine, lets have a look at what happens when we either have too much or too little of this mineral.
Too Much Iodine – Iodine is required for the production of thyroid hormones. Iodine is primarily taken in through the diet, with the recommended amount at 150 μg per day in adults who are not pregnant or lactating. In some cases, too much Iodine can result in a thyroid condition called Hyperthyroidism. A number of conditions can cause Hyperthyroidism and the most common one is Graves’ Disease (an autoimmune condition). One of the visible signs is growth in the neck know as a goiter. Other signs of Hyperthyroidism include:
inability to concentrate
fine, brittle hair
nausea and vomiting
breast development in men
Summary a report from NIH – Although excess iodine exposure generally does not result in any apparent clinical consequences, thyroid dysfunction can occur in vulnerable patients with specific risk factors, including those with per-existing thyroid disease, the elderly, foetuses and neonates. As iodine-induced hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism might be either subclinical or overt, excess iodine exposure should be suspected if the aetiology of thyroid dysfunction is not discernible.
Too Little Iodine – When we are low in iodine our bodies are cleaver and tell us this news by displaying. In some cases, when the low levels of iodine impact your thyroid’s ability to produce thyroid hormones you can develop the condition know as Hypothyroidism. Some of the symptoms associated with Hypothyroidism are also symptoms of low iodine:
increased sensitivity to cold
elevated blood cholesterol levels
I suspect many of you are very familiar with some or all of these symptoms. You might also recall low levels of Selenium have similar impacts on fatigue, thinning hair and muscle weakness. As noted above, iodine is one of the critical minerals your thyroid needs to make thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormone controls your metabolism and other important body functions.
If you feel you are not getting enough or want to just check on your levels, I recommend you get a urine test. The most reliable way to check your iodine intake is to ask your doctor to order a urine test. Your doctor/Naturopath/ may also use a blood test to ensure that your thyroid hormone levels are normal.
Please note – This information is not a full review of Thyroid conditions. Rather a summary of one of the five minerals necessary for proper Thyroid function. If you would like more information around Hypothyroidism ( and Hashimoto which is the autoimmune condition) or Hyperthyroidism, please click on the links.
Iodine is one of five essential minerals necessary for proper Thyroid function. Together with the other 4 minerals (selenium, zinc, iron, and sodium) your thyroid can produce the necessary thyroid hormones necessary for its proper function. Each mineral is important so maintaining balance is what matters.
So how can you help your body maintain that wonderful mineral balance and help your thyroid do its work?
Here are my top 4 suggestions:
(1) Eating a diet rich in WHOLE REAL food, that is varied. Excessive amounts of Soy products and cruciferous veggies is not recommended. Both are great sources of iodine, but with many foods, excess can cause opposing effects. So please keep your diet balanced.
(2) add in or continue your exercise – walking and yoga are great.
(3) have good quality sleep every night
(4) maintain a positive mind set.