Managing your thyroid for weight management

Vitamins and minerals support a healthy metabolism

Monday, May 02, 2016 7:16PM

If you are struggling with your weight, it’s important to understand that the old calories-in/calories-out model is terribly outdated, because it doesn’t take into consideration several variables that can affect fat loss.

It’s no longer just about dieting and calories. Food is medicine and provides important information to your body. The better you understand how it works, the better decisions you can make to improve your success.

In previous articles, I talked about the impact of stress and sleep on hormones such as cortisol and leptin, and the effect on food choices. This month I would like to delve deeper into the role of your thyroid in creating weight management success.

The thyroid secretes hormones that regulate the activities of almost every cell in our bodies, including how quickly we burn calories and maintenance of our metabolism. It’s like the engine of your body. Thyroid fatigue can impact metabolic rate, sex hormone levels, overall mood, well-being, and the ability to build muscle.

Low thyroid has also been implicated in heart disease. Some signs of low thyroid include dry skin, thin brittle nails, loss of one third of your outer eyebrow, weight gain, fluid retention, cold hands and feet. If you are experiencing these symptoms, it is a good idea to get further evaluation by a doctor you trust.

Unfortunately, thyroid issues are grossly under-diagnosed. If you believe your thyroid is under functioning, stand your ground. Ask your doctor how well your inactive T3, a thyroid hormone, is being converted to active T3. Know your numbers and understand the impact they can have on your body.

On the other hand, your test reports may look fine but your thyroid may just be a little sluggish. If so, it needs more nutritional support. Make sure you get plenty of iodine, copper, zinc and selenium for minerals; vitamin A and D for vitamins. If you have autoimmune thyroid disease, iodine is contraindicated.


Good sources of iodine include sea vegetables, ie. seaweed, including kombu/kelp, wakame and arame. Limit to 1 tsp per day. Saltwater fish, other seafood, iodized sea salt and dairy products — especially yogurt are other good sources.

Good sources of copper: Oysters, mushrooms, seeds, nuts, dried peas and beans, prunes, avocados, goat cheese.

Good Sources of znc: Oysters, beef, lamb, wheat germ, spinach, seeds, nuts, particularly cashews, cocoa and chocolate, pork and chicken, sprouted nuts, seeds, grains and legumes.

Good sources of selenium: Brazil nuts, seafood, particularly oysters, seeds, lean pork, beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, mushrooms.


Good sources of vitamin A: Sweet potato, carrots, dark leafy greens, squash, romaine lettuce, apricots, cantaloupe, sweet red peppers, mango.

Good sources of vitamin D: Sunshine is the best source. Living in the Monadnock region makes it hard to get adequate exposure to sun in the winter. You may want to consider a vitamin D supplement and get your blood vitamin D tested the next time you visit your health care practitioner.

Other things to consider

Eliminate soy with the exception of fermented soy and miso.

Avoid raw Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy and napa cabbage. Lightly steamed is fine.

Avoid gluten found in wheat, barley, oats and rye.

Avoid refined baked goods like pastas and cereals because of the bromine content.

Minimize exposure to toxins and heavy metals.

Make sleep a priority.

If you aren’t eating a nutrient-dense diet, consider a high quality professional grade multivitamin mineral to help you get what you need.

Your thyroid is one of the most important organs in your body. Making sure you give it great nutritional support can go a long way toward protecting it and helping it live a long healthy life.

Ruth Clark is a registered dietitian nutritionist with a Master’s degree in Public Health and over 35 years of experience. She lives in Sharon and has offices in Peterborough and Amherst. After losing both her parents to heart disease at a very young age, nutrition became her purpose in life and she is passionate about helping mid-life individuals prevent illness and disease.