No doubt you know that you need a wide range of vitamins and minerals for optimal health, but what are they, why are they so important, and where can you find these nutrients?
There’s a ton of information on the Web when it comes to supplements. And I’ve got bags full of them, collecting dust in my closet. (The photo is just a sampling.)
More often than not, those supplements just gave me very expensive pee. 😆
I prefer to use food as medicine. Aim to get your vitamins and minerals from food whenever possible. And to supplement when necessary.
Please note: I am not a doctor and you should not consider this article medical advice. I’m just bringing to your attention some key nutrients to keep on your radar. If you’re not feeling your best, have a doctor or practitioner that you trust order tests for you.
Everyone is different. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. You need to do what’s best for YOU.
Essentials For Thyroid & General Health
If chronic fatigue and muscle cramps are common problems for you, it may be a sign you need to “up” your magnesium intake. Lots of people are deficient in magnesium, which is bad news given how many key roles it plays in the body.
There are different types of magnesium, so do your research. I solved my hypo and Hashi’s related constipation issues with Magnesium Citrate. Other forms of magnesium do wonders for sleep and stress. A product I occasionally use is Natural Calm.
Worried you’re not getting enough magnesium? You can get more of it by enjoying dark chocolate, leafy greens, and pumpkin seeds. Permission to eat chocolate? Yes! As long as it’s a square of dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao 😁.
Low on energy and feeling out of breath lately? It could be a sign that you’re not getting enough iron.
Liver is a great source of iron but if you’re not a fan, you’ve still got plenty of other options. Spinach, beans, lentils, chickpeas, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds can also give you an iron boost. Bonus points if you can team these with a vitamin C rich foods to absorb the iron more easily.
Here’s a sweet potato curry recipe, which is full of iron boosting chickpeas and spinach, plus vitamin C to help with absorption: https://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/vegetables-recipes/sweet-potato-chickpea-amp-spinach-curry/
Vitamin B12 – Vegans & Vegetarians Take Note
Vegans and vegetarians are at especially high risk for B12 deficiency because this vitamin is only found in animal foods and cannot be synthesized by our bodies. That means our bodies cannot make their own B12.
Vitamin B12 is crucial for energy production, our nervous system, brain function, and blood-cell formation. It prevents anemia and enhances our mood. Low levels are also common in people who have Hashimoto’s. And since B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, it doesn’t get stored in our body and needs to be replenished each day.
If you eat an exclusively plant-based diet, be sure to supplement with B12!
Improved mood and reduced thyroid antibodies? Bring on the sunshine!
The best source of Vitamin D is sun exposure, and people with Hashimoto’s appear to be more likely to have a Vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium and phosphorus, important for bones and teeth. It’s also critical for immune system function. You may want to consider supplementing with vitamin D3 if you live somewhere the sun is shy. ☀️
Some people with Hashimoto’s swear by using 600 mg/day of thiamine (also know as vitamin B1) to resolve fatigue and low blood pressure. Good food sources include sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, certain types of beans, lentils, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts.
Sprinkle some sunflower seeds on your salads, or try this black bean soup based on Panera’s recipe: https://detoxinista.com/panera-black-bean-soup/
If you want to keep your eyes and skin healthy, you definitely want to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin A.
There are two types: retinoids and carotenoids. Both are important for keeping skin, eyes, cells and tissues healthy and increasing immunity. The main difference is where you get them. Retinoids are more readily found in animal products while carotenoids are usually plant-based.
As a general rule of thumb, you’ll find vitamin A in lots of orange foods, including carrots, sweet potatoes, and cantaloupe melon. Some of the less obvious sources include kale, spinach, liver, eggs, milk, red peppers, and mangoes.
Most of us get enough vitamin A if we eat the right foods. Be wary of supplementing as too much as it can be dangerous, especially if you’re pregnant. Your body stores it rather than flushing out any excess. If it gets too high, it can be toxic. Stick to getting your vitamin A intake from foods and you shouldn’t have anything to worry about!
Enjoy these delicious carrot “fries”: https://healyeatsreal.com/baked-carrot-fries-paleo-vegan/
Vitamin E is more of an antioxidant than a vitamin and can help to protect your body against the damaging effects of free radicals.
Almonds are a great natural source of vitamin E. Enjoy a small handful of almonds, preferably raw. Or, make a beautiful salad with spinach, kale, asparagus, celery, cucumber and tomato to boost your vitamin E intake. Sprinkle with some sunflower seeds. And since vitamin E is fat-soluble, be sure top with a healthy (and preferably homemade) extra virgin olive oil-based dressing: https://www.lisathehealthcoach.com/olive-oil-controversy-3-great-recipes/
Potassium is another mineral that can cause a lot of problems if you’re not getting enough. It helps your muscles and nerves stay healthy, and it’s also important for your kidneys and digestive system.
Good sources of potassium include avocado, bananas, potato, sweet potato, prunes and raisins. You can also drink coconut water, which often also contains other minerals such as magnesium and zinc.
Try my favorite healthy “ice cream” recipe: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/3038-one-ingredient-banana-ice-cream
Chromium is a mineral that lots of people have never heard but it’s really important for making sure every cell in your body gets vital energy. If you don’t get enough chromium, you may get sugar cravings.
You don’t need to eat much differently to get enough chromium, since meat, most vegetables and some herbs all contain it.
This chicken curry recipe gives you a healthy dose of meat and veggies and is super easy to make: https://80twentynutrition.com/recipe/curry-chicken-healthy-simple/
Iodine & Selenium — “Goldilocks” Minerals
Don’t assume that taking a multivitamin will have you covered. If you have Hashimoto’s, you definitely want to be careful with multivitamins that may actually OVER deliver.
For example, your body needs iodine to produce thyroid hormones and selenium to protect thyroid cells from oxidative damage and to convert T4 to T3. But these are “Goldilock’s” minerals — you don’t want too little, but you don’t want too much. They need to be just right. 😊
Some thyroid medications already have iodine so you need to be careful how much you’re getting in a multivitamin. Overdoing it may actually increase the autoimmune attack on your thyroid.
And while it may seem like eating a handful of Brazil nuts — a rich source of selenium — is a good idea, stick with a couple of nuts a day. The selenium content varies widely based on the type of soil grown.
It’s critical to find a healthcare practitioner you can trust — preferably a functional medicine specialist — who can help determine the ideal recommended dosages for you.
What Works For You?
Eating a balanced diet full of whole foods is definitely the way to go for getting essential vitamins and minerals. Eat the rainbow and load up your plate with lots of different colors every day. It will go a long way toward making sure you don’t become deficient in key nutrients.
This post covers some of the heavy-hitters, but there are so many more important vitamins, minerals, and supplements. In a future post, I’ll cover supplements such as probiotics, enzymes, turmeric, zinc, betaine HCL, Omega-3s, and the list goes on…
Consider this a starting point to incorporate more nutrient-rich foods into your life. And talk with your doctor or healthcare practitioner if you feel supplementation may be in order for you.
I’d love to hear what works — or what doesn’t work — for you. Post it in the blog comments or join the conversation in our Hypo & Hashi’s Help private Facebook support group. Not a member yet? Request access to join here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/hypoandhashishelp/
All material is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being. The information and opinions expressed here are believed to be accurate, based on the best judgment available to the author, and readers who fail to consult with appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries.