Nutrition Notes

Minerals to Promote Thyroid Health and Immune Function

The thyroid gland plays an important role in energy metabolism and many other functions within the human body. It is, however, vulnerable to damage from oxidative stress. Emerging research suggests that certain minerals may help support antioxidative stress, balanced thyroid hormone levels, and a healthy immune response.

The thyroid gland contains the highest amount of selenium of any organ in the human body. Selenium is an essential trace mineral that has been shown to support antioxidative status and thyroid function. It is required for the functioning of thyroid hormones at the cellular level and it has been shown in studies to influence certain biomarkers related to thyroid and immune health.

The production of thyroid hormones in the body creates byproduct reactive oxygen species (ROS). Certain selenoproteins help support the removal of these ROS. In addition, the selenoprotein-dependent phospholipid, glutathione peroxidase-4 (GPx4), has been shown to regulate apoptosis and reduce hydroperoxides in the thyroid gland.

Furthermore, selenium aids in thyroid hormone metabolism and conversion, crucial for maintaining balanced hormone levels. Selenomethionine, a selenium form found in vegetable sources, has been extensively studied for its supportive role in thyroid health. One study investigated the efficacy of selenomethionine supplementation in 88 women with autoimmune thyroiditis for nine months. In the treatment group receiving 200 µg of selenomethionine daily, serum concentrations of antithyroperoxidase (TPOAb) were shown to decrease by 26.6% after three months. A similar study reported significant reductions in TPOAb in patients receiving selenium supplementation for six months.

Zinc, another essential mineral, plays a critical role in thyroid hormone regulation. It acts as a cofactor for deiodinases, which are enzymes that facilitate the conversion of thyroxine (T4) into active triiodothyronine (T3). Zinc also aids in the binding of T3 to its nuclear receptor and helps convert precursor molecules into thyrotropin-releasing hormone.

Magnesium, critical for many enzymatic reactions throughout the body, is a cofactor in the mediation of thyrotropin in the thyroid gland. A randomized placebo-controlled trial evaluated a combination of magnesium, zinc, and vitamin A supplementation in individuals with hypothyroidism. Results showed decreased inflammation markers, improved antioxidant capacity, and increased free T4 levels.

In conclusion, selenium, zinc, and magnesium play vital roles in promoting thyroid health and immune function. Ensuring adequate intake of these nutrients through diet or supplementation may support overall thyroid functions and immune health. Further research is warranted to explore the full extent of their potential to promote optimal thyroid health.

By Cory Ambrose, ND, MAT