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The Thyroid, Nutrition and Fertility Connection I WeNatal

The Thyroid, Nutrition and Fertility Connection I WeNatal

Many people don’t realize the impact thyroid plays in overall health and fertility. The thyroid helps regulate so many aspects of our body including metabolism, heart rate, digestion, body temperature, brain function/development, energy, and bone maintenance. Low thyroid hormone interferes with the proper release of an egg from the ovaries, which is one potential cause of infertility. This is why it is so important to have your thyroid levels checked before trying to get pregnant.

There are many possible reasons for thyroid dysfunction, and one key reason is nutrient deficiencies. The following are 5 common nutrient deficiencies seen in thyroid dysfunction and a list of the best dietary sources of each:
  1. Selenium is needed for the proper conversion of T4 to T3. Selenium also acts as an antioxidant and may help reduce inflammation that can damage the thyroid. Best sources: Brazil nuts (they are very concentrated in selenium, so you only need to eat 1-3 nuts), shrimp, halibut, sardines, grass-fed beef, salmon and turkey.
  2. Iodine is needed to stimulate the production of T4 and supports the conversion to T3. A balance of selenium and iodine is needed to support optimal thyroid health. Best sources: seaweed, eggs, saltwater fish, and shellfish.
  3. Vitamin A is needed for hormone synthesis and the production of T3. Vitamin A has been shown to reduce elevated TSH levels and increase T3 levels in obese and nonobese premenopausal women. Best sources: liver, carrots, sweet potato, dark leafy greens, and winter squash.
  4. Vitamin D – low levels have been associated with more severe hypothyroid symptoms. Additionally, low vitamin D has been linked to several autoimmune conditions, specifically with autoimmune thyroid disease. It is difficult to get vitamin D from diet alone and supplementation is usually needed. However, these are the best sources: salmon, sardines, mackerel, eggs, and mushrooms. 
  5. Magnesium works alongside iodine to stimulate the production of T4 and supports the conversion to T3. Best sources: pumpkin seeds, almonds, spinach, swiss chard, sesame seeds, quinoa, cashews, dark chocolate, and avocado.

Eating foods rich in the above nutrients and taking a comprehensive, balanced prenatal that includes vitamins and minerals necessary for thyroid health is key for optimizing fertility. We also encourage you to ask your doctor to check thyroid hormone before trying to conceive, if possible, and monitor levels throughout pregnancy. If you have known thyroid dysfunction and are on medication, it is especially important to speak with your doctor because medication doses may need to be adjusted during pregnancy.

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Lisa Dreher

Lisa is a registered dietitian/nutritionist with a Master’s Degree in Nutrition and Integrative Health. She has been practicing for over a decade and works full time at Dr. Mark Hyman's UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts.

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