More and more women who come to me as patients share the same problem — they just can’t to lose weight. They tell me they’ve tried everything with no success. The first thing I check is their thyroid.
You see, thyroid issues are starting to become epidemic. A staggering 21 million women in America have some thyroid problem. A whopping 80% of those cases are low thyroid. It’s called “hypothyroidism.”
It gets worse… A major study in the Archives of Internal Medicine says another 13 million people are undiagnosed. They don’t even know they have thyroid issues.1
Most mainstream doctors miss the diagnosis. Many will tell you that your symptoms are just a normal part of aging. Even if they do get the diagnosis right, they only prescribe a synthetic T4 thyroid hormone called Synthroid. But that comes with its own problems…
Synthroid has many side effects. They include: headaches, sweating, diarrhea, hair loss, hives, weight gain or loss, mood swings and heart palpitations.
I don’t prescribe Synthroid. I prefer natural remedies. And a new study suggests the solution to low thyroid function may be as simple as a common mineral.
I’m talking about selenium.
Researchers wanted to know why some counties in China had higher rates of thyroid disease than others. They looked at two counties — one with adequate selenium in their local produce and one with low levels. What they found was very clear…
The risk of thyroid disease was 69% higher in the low-selenium county. More than 30% of the people in that area had thyroid problems. That compared to only 18% in the higher area.2
It makes complete sense. Your thyroid gland produces two hormones — T3 and T4. Your body converts inactive T4 into the active T3 hormone. T3 regulates body temperature, digestive metabolism and helps burn body fat.
Selenium is the most critical nutrient to convert T4 to T3. It’s part of the enzymes that activate your thyroid hormone.3 Your body also needs it to use iodine, the other important thyroid mineral.4
If your selenium levels are low, your thyroid won’t work as efficiently as it should. You could experience one or more of over 200 problems. You might notice:
|• dry, brittle, dull hair||• eyebrows disappearing at the outer edges|
|• prematurely gray hair||• coarse, dry or unhealthy looking skin|
|• frequent headaches||• lack of sweat, even when you exercise|
|• more fat around the waist||• puffiness around the eyes and jaw line|
|• slow-growing, soft, brittle nails||• low mood or depression, and feeling sluggish|
In addition to promoting thyroid health, selenium can:
• reduce your risk of osteoarthritis.
• fight the effects of aging by helping make glutathione, a powerful antioxidant.
• drop your risk of lung, breast, liver, colon and other cancers.
• reduce your risk of dying of cancer by 50% and dying from any cause by 20%.5
Our ancestors got plenty of this important mineral from fruits and vegetables. Their soils were rich in selenium. But with our modern industrial farming, crops are fertilized with chemicals. They disrupt the balance of natural minerals like selenium that come from the earth.
Processing and cooking further deplete the selenium in food. That’s why I help my patients find the richest sources.
The government’s Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for selenium is 55 micrograms (mcg) per day. Most high quality multivitamins will contain that.
But for thyroid health I recommend you get up to 200 mcg from your diet. Selenium is well absorbed from food. The best source is Brazil nuts. One nut has about 100 mcg of selenium. A handful will give you all the selenium you need each day. Here are some other great food sources.
|Chicken liver (one)||140|
|Yellowfin tuna (3 oz)||92|
|Sardines, canned (3 oz)||45|
|Grass-fed beef (3 oz)||35|
|Cod (3 oz)||32|
|Turkey, boneless (3 oz)||32|
|Beef liver (3 oz)||28|
|Chicken (3 oz)||22|
|Egg (1 large)||15|
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1. Shomon M, “Thyroid Disease Is Far More Widespread Than Originally Thought – 13 Million May Be At Risk and Undiagnosed”, 11/19/08, (thyroid-info/articles/thyroid-prevalence.htm)
2. Qian Wu, Margaret P. Rayman, Hongjun Lv, et al. “Low Population Selenium Status Is Associated With Increased Prevalence of Thyroid Disease.” J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2015; 100 (11): 4037-4047.
3. Schomburg L. “Selenium, selenoproteins and the thyroid gland: interactions in health and disease. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2011 Oct 18.
4. Cann SA, van Netten JP, van Netten C. “Hypothesis: iodine, selenium and the development of breast cancer.” Cancer Causes Control. 2000;11(2):121-7.
5. Clark, L.C. et al, “Effects of selenium supplementation for cancer prevention in patients with carcinoma of the skin,” JAMA Dec. 25, 1996;276(24):1957-63