• Shannon Sims, PhD

Nutrition and Supplements for Hashimoto’s

Updated: Apr 4


Hashimoto's thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease that affects the functioning of the thyroid gland. Changes in the thyroid hormone levothyroxine, as well as metabolism, are experienced by those living with Hashimoto's disease. There is some research showing that Hashimoto's can lead to some nutritional deficiencies and that dietary changes can make a difference when it comes to how well you manage your disease.


When it comes to looking at diet and nutrition, research has shown that there are some supplements and medications that affect the body’s ability to absorb levothyroxine.


A Few Things That Affect Levothyroxine Absorption:

  • Iron sulfate supplements

  • Calcium supplements (or high calcium-containing foods, like kale)

  • Soy products

  • Proton pump inhibitors (a treatment for acid reflux)

  • Coffee

  • Lactose

  • Some cholesterol medications

  • Estrogen


It is important to talk with your medical doctor about any other supplements and medications you are taking, especially if you notice your thyroid feeling off.


Nutritional Support:

As mentioned above, there are some foods and supplements that can affect thyroid function and how well your body is able to absorb levothyroxine. Things like grapefruit juice, espresso coffee, lactose, soy, and multivitamins containing iron or calcium. Personally, a dear friend of mine with Hashimoto's reports kale as a trigger for a symptom flare. If she eats too much of it, she doesn't feel all that great. If your first inclination after reading this is to throw away all of your supplements that may have any of these ingredients, just hang on a minute. Before cleaning out your supplement cabinet, give your doctor a call first.


The thyroid relies on iodine, a mineral that is found in some foods, In order to produce thyroid hormones. However, Hashimoto’s disease might make you sensitive to the harmful side effects of iodine. Eating foods that are rich in iodine, like kelp, dulse, or other types of seaweed, and certain iodine-rich medicines, can cause hypothyroidism or make it worse.


As with anything in life, there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and your nutrition is no different. It is important to take an individualized approach to your eating. There is even some evidence showing that certain nutritional styles have been helpful for people with Hashimoto’s including, including - Mediterranean diet, minimizing or eliminating gluten-free and sugar, Paleo diet, Autoimmune modified paleo diet, minimizing processed foods, choosing whole grains and items with a low glycemic index.


You can read more about the specifics of these diets here.


Vitamins and Supplements:

Over the years, researchers have focused on the role of certain vitamins with autoimmune disease. There is some evidence supporting the addition of key nutrients, like vitamin D and selenium, for Hashimoto's disease.


Vitamin D.

Many people living with Hashimoto's are vitamin D deficient. Several studies have linked low vitamin D levels with the prevalence of thyroid disease. It is a good idea to have your doctor regularly check your vitamin D levels. Vitamin D can be produced in the body during sun exposure or consumed through food or supplements.


Selenium

Low levels of selenium are also commonly found in people living with Hashimoto’s. We don't often think of selenium, but it is actually an essential trace mineral that is critical for immunity and brain function as well as fertility. The thyroid is the main storage area for this essential mineral, so it makes sense that low selenium levels are often detected in those with thyroid disease. There have been several published research studies demonstrating improvements in thyroid function with selenium supplementation.


Key Takeaway

The take-home message here is that it is important to focus on following a well-balanced nutritional plan that works for your individual needs rather than to try and put a label on your eating habits. Bringing awareness around your eating habits might also illuminate foods or supplements that might be triggering flare-ups. You might notice that certain foods cause a ramp-up in symptoms. A general rule of thumb is to focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods and eat foods that are grown from the ground, not foods that come packaged in a box or bag. Allow yourself to be open to different styles of eating until you find what makes you feel best. Speak to your doctor or nutritionist about steps you can take to make sure both you and your thyroid are happy!


Looking for More Nutritional Support?

Aila Health offers virtual nutrition coaching to help you adopt a non-restrictive, gut-healing anti-inflammatory eating pattern. Experience customized and individualized nutritional guidance to help you experience greater health and wellness. Learn more here.

Join a Community of Chronic Illness Warriors

Here at Aila Health, we support people in their chronic illness journey. Join our community and connect with other patients like you. Share your patient journey with others who truly understand what you are going through. Learn from other’s experiences and how they navigated their condition.Learn more.


Article written by: Shannon Sims, PhD


About the Author


Shannon Sims, PhD, is an integrative wellness coach and mind-body specialist with Aila Health where she focuses on supporting people living with autoimmune and chronic illnesses in their journey to greater wellness. She is also a professor at Saybrook University’s College of Integrative Medicine and Health Sciences in the department of Mind-Body Medicine.




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