There is a link between hypothyroidism and nutrition. Best known is that an iodine deficiency can cause a hypofunction of the thyroid gland. But for other causes as well as for prevention, the proper nutrition can positively influence the function of the thyroid gland.
Iodine deficiency as a trigger for hypothyroidism
The thyroid produces two hormones: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Through these messengers, it controls the energy metabolism, including the heat balance, the weight gain or decrease and the heart rate and bone metabolism and growth in children.
For the production of T4 and T3, the thyroid requires iodine, a trace element. Trace elements are supplied to the body with the food in small quantities.
If the thyroid lacks iodine, it can not produce sufficient quantities of hormones and hypofunction (hypothyroidism) can be the result in the long run. To compensate for this, the thyroid tissue proliferates and a goiter (goiter) arises. One speaks of a Jodermangelstruma.
Overall, however, the iodine deficiency goiter is rare these days. More common causes of hypothyroidism include inflammation and autoimmune diseases, as well as hypofunction following thyroid surgery or radiation.
When does iodine have to be added separately?
If iodine deficiency has been demonstrated, care should be taken to ensure adequate iodine intake if the thyroid is underactive. The recommended daily intake is 100-140 μg for children and 180-200 μg for adolescents and adults.
A special case is pregnancy, during which there is an increased need (230-260 μg). For this purpose, there are iodine tablets, which should be taken in consultation with a doctor.
Beware of iodine in Hashimoto's disease
However, iodine should not be added separately to any form of hypofunction. In the so-called Hashimoto disease, an autoimmune inflammation of the thyroid gland, which can manifest itself as both an overactive and a hypofunction, too much iodine may even worsen the condition.
For these patients there are special dietary supplements. It should in any case be discussed with a doctor about proper nutrition.
Selenium for a healthy thyroid
Another trace element that is important for thyroid function is selenium. Missing selenium, among other things, the thyroid hormone triiodothyronine (T3) can not be activated.
Selenium also has a positive, anti-inflammatory effect on Hashimoto's disease and is prescribed in the form of tablets for this disease.
There are also foods that can promote the formation of a goiter. These "goitrogenic" foods affect the iodine metabolism and thus the thyroid hormone production. These include cabbage, mustard, radishes, horseradish and bitter almonds.
If you are suffering from an enlarged thyroid gland or are already taking thyroid hormone tablets, you should not take these foods either raw or in large quantities.
Nutrition Tips for Preventing Thyroid Dysfunction
In general, one should always pay attention to a balanced diet. Important for the formation of thyroid hormones are the trace elements iodine and selenium.
Foods high in iodine are mainly sea fish such as haddock, plaice, saithe and cod. Seafood, sea algae, broccoli and cashew nuts also contain large amounts of the trace element. An ideal dish is for example sushi.
Selenium is found in larger quantities in pork, fish, nuts and offal (liver and kidney). According to the German Nutrition Society, a daily intake of 60-70 μg is recommended.