8 Minerals Required for Thyroid Function

Thyroid disorders are reaching epidemic proportions, and some 5-8x more common in women, than men.

Let’s check out the minerals required to keep this small, but vital organ in working order.

IODINE: Each molecule of thyroxine (T4) contains 4 atoms of iodine, and each molecule of triiodo-l-thyronine (T3) contains 3 molecules of iodine (so, fairly important 😉). A deficiency in iodine can result in goiter, as the thyroid increases its surface size, in a desperate attempt to absorb more iodine.

SELENIUM: The thyroid has the highest selenium content per gram, of all the organs, and expresses specific selenoproteins. Selenium has been shown to decrease anti-thyroid antibodies (which are an indicator of aito-immune conditions, such as Hashimoto’s), and lower the risk of post-partum thyroiditis.

ZINC: Is a co-factor in the conversion of T4 to T3 active thyroid hormone. Zinc is also required for the pituitary to produce Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), which communicates to the thyroid to produce more thyroid hormones.

MAGNESIUM: We need magnesium for the uptake of iodine, and also conversion of T4 to T3 hormone. Studies show that magnesium supplementation can reduce anti-thyroid antibodies, and normalise TSH levels.

MOLYBDENUM: Thyroid epithelial cells (thyrocytes) contain molybdenum-dependant enzymes. These cells are responsible for production and secretion of thyroid hormones.

MANGANESE: Manganese helps to protect the thyroid gland via the antioxidant activity of Manganese-Superoxide Dismutase, and is required to transport thyroid hormones into the cells.

BORON: The highest concentration of boron is found in the parathyroid glands (two tiny glands, about the size of a grain of rice, embedded in the thyroid) where it helps to regulate calcium and magnesium. However, Boron seems to also play a role in conversion of T4 to T3, and some studies seem to show it increases T3 secretion (but massive doses has the opposite effect).

COPPER: Is required to make the amino acid tyrosine, which is a precursor to thyroid hormones, where it is bound covalently with iodine.

Everything works together 🙂

My favourite ways to ensure optimal mineral intake are:

Fulvic Acid. I love Natural Edge Fulvic as it is 21% humic acid and 32% fulvic acid. Some products on the market contain less than 5% humic and fulvic acids. If in doubt, ask to see the company’s LAMAR test results. If you buy Natural Edge Fulvic, use code ‘radical’ at checkout to get 33% off the 3 and 6mth supply packages. (So the 3mth supply will reduce from $149 to $99 AUD (shipping included within Australia), while the 6mth supply pack will reduce from $299 to $199 AUD.

Beef Liver. Natural’s original superfood and multi-mineral. Try Ancestral Nutrition organ superfoods.

Oysters: World’s highest known food source of zinc, but also contains many other trace elements and vitamins. Try NXGEN Wholefoods for pure oyster extract capsules, if not a fan of the taste. These can be easily split open and added to milkshakes or smoothies for children, too, who really need optimal levels of zinc (so long as no shellfish allergies).

Mineral Deficiencies = Heavy Metal Toxicity

If our body doesn’t get the essential minerals it requires from diet, it starts to compensate by absorbing less preferable elements that have similar properties, such as metals. Our bodies do this to ensure vital processes continue, even though this very act of short-term survival compromises long-term health.

If our diet is deficient in iodine, our thyroid gland will latch onto fluorine, chlorine or bromine instead – even though these elements will eventually suppress thyroid function.

If our diet is deficient in calcium, then lead will accumulate in our bones, because lead can substitute *some* functions of calcium – though it leads to brittle bones. The same applies to strontium.

If someone has low adrenal function, their body will absorb cadmium – because cadmium raises sodium levels, which is required to keep the adrenals functioning, and avoid complete burnout. It’s certainly not ideal, but it keeps a person alive in the short-term.

Cadmium, mercury and nickel can displace zinc.

Silver and gold displace copper.

Excess iron displaces chromium – this is why iron overload results in dysfunction of glucose metabolism, diabetes and insulin resistance.

Aluminium displaces boron, and can accumulate in the bones instead of boron. It is possible that some of the health issues found commonly in post-menopausal women may be the result of heavy metals (lead, aluminium, etc) being released due to the fast turnover of bone cells, in the absence of sufficient estrogen.

Arsenic displaces phosphorus.

Mercury displaces selenium.

Tungsten displaces molybdenum.

Berillium displaces magnesium.

According to Dr. Paul Eck: “Heavy metals serve as a back-up system. When the primary nutritional minerals are insufficient to protect the person, Nature uses substitutes”.

On the other hand, if we have adequate intake of essential, preferred minerals in the diet, they compete and displace heavy metals, so they are rapidly excreted from the body. The extent that heavy metals cause toxicity, is the extent that we are deficient in essential minerals.