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7 Nutrients For Underactive Thyroid

Nina Ghamrawi, MS, RD, CDE
May 18, 2024
May 18, 2024

Hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid gland, is a condition that can disrupt metabolism and cause fatigue, weight gain, cold intolerance, and many other symptoms. Here’s a little background on the condition, and seven foods that support thyroid health.

First, what does the thyroid even do?  

The thyroid gland, located in the neck, is critical for regulating many metabolic processes in the body. Thyroid hormones, specifically thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), are essential for maintaining normal metabolism, energy production, and the proper functioning of organs and tissues.

In hypothyroidism, the thyroid does not produce enough hormones, leading to a slower metabolic rate. This can affect many bodily functions, and lead to a many curious symptoms. Most commonly, weight gain that’s hard to lose.

Managing weight with hypothyroidism involves taking prescribed medication, maintaining a balanced diet with a calorie deficit, incorporating regular exercise, and staying hydrated. It's a gradual process, and can be frustrating at times. But you CAN control your weight and your thyroid with consistency and a little grit.

Now, let’s talk about food

We all know that we need to eat well-balanced and nutritious meals. But for the thyroid, research suggests that this is not all. Here are some general guidelines for eating to support your thyroid:

1. Eat More Iodine-Rich Foods

  • Iodine is a crucial element for thyroid function, as it is a key component of thyroid hormones. However, be mindful not to consume excessive amounts of iodine, as too much can also have negative effects on thyroid function.
  • Food Sources: seaweed, fish, dairy products, and iodized salt.

2.Get Enough Selenium

  • Selenium is another mineral important for thyroid health.It's essential not to over consume selenium, as excessive intake can also be harmful.
  • Food Sources: Brazil nuts, fish, turkey, and whole grains are good sources of selenium

3. Prioritize Zinc in the Diet

  • Zinc plays a role in the conversion of thyroid hormones
  • Food sources: lean meats, nuts, seeds, and legumes

4. Get Enough Iron

  • Iron is important for the production of thyroid hormones.  Consuming vitamin C-rich foods alongside iron sources can enhance iron absorption.
  • Food sources: lean meats, legumes, spinach, and fortified cereals. Squeeze some lemon on for vitamin C!

5. Include Omega-3 Fatty Acids

  • Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation and support overall thyroid health.
  • Food Sources: fatty fish (like salmon, tuna, and mackerel), flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts

6. Limit Goitrogenic Foods

  • Some foods contain compounds known as goitrogens, which can interfere with thyroid function when consumed in large amounts.
  • Food Sources: cruciferous vegetables, ie. broccoli, cabbage, and kale. While these foods are typically healthy, eat them in moderation if you have an underactive thyroid.

7. Ensure Adequate Vitamin D Levels

  • Vitamin D is essential for overall health, including thyroid function. Spend some time in the sun, and include vitamin D-rich foods, too!
  • Food sources: fatty fish, fortified dairy products, and egg yolks


When you have hypothyroidism, you always want to prioritize certain foods- Iodine, Selenium, and Zinc-rich foods. Limit cruciferous vegetables, eat small, balanced meals, using the portioned plate to help you. To help with thyroid control, it is also critical that you get regular exercise, stay hydrated, and manage stress with meditation, yoga, or some wind-down time. Most importantly, always seek personalized advice from a registered dietitian for a tailored nutrition plan that aligns with your hypothyroidism medication management and bloodwork.

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