Do Supplements Help if you Don't Have a Thyroid?
If I had a nickel for every time someone without a thyroid asked me if they should use thyroid supplements... I would have a lot of nickels (I mean a lot!).
Because this topic seems to be so confusing (and believe me, I understand why) I am going to elaborate exactly WHY patients without a thyroid or those who are post thyroidectomy can and SHOULD use thyroid support supplements.
So, if you don't have a thyroid let me be the first to tell you:
You definitely can benefit from using thyroid supplements even if you don't have a thyroid!
Again, I totally understand why this is a confusing topic.
How can a thyroid support supplement help if your thyroid has been removed?
How is it possible to support something that doesn't exist?
The problem isn't that these aren't logical questions, they are, but they are the wrong questions to ask.
Instead, you should be asking how can I support thyroid FUNCTION.
You see, thyroid FUNCTION is significantly different than supporting your own thyroid GLAND.
Once your gland has been removed you don't need to support it.
BUT, thyroid FUNCTION (which means how well thyroid hormone works in your body) STILL remains important whether you have a thyroid or not.
Because no one can live without thyroid hormone in their body.
This is why every single patient who has had their own thyroid removed must be placed on thyroid medication!
And while we aren't concerned about your own thyroid gland once it has been removed, we do care a lot about how well your thyroid medication is working in your body.
And this is where some supplements shine.
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Thyroid Hormone Production Support vs Thyroid Function Support
You should understand that there is a difference between supporting your thyroid and supporting thyroid function.
Most thyroid support supplements focus on helping your thyroid gland PRODUCE more thyroid hormone.
They do this by including ingredients which you can consider the building blocks of thyroid hormone.
Things like tyrosine and iodine fall into this category.
Your thyroid gland does need these ingredients to produce thyroid hormone which is why they are included in thyroid support supplements.
But if you don't have a thyroid then these specific ingredients are meaningless to you!
Your thyroid gland is no longer in your body which means it can no longer produce thyroid hormone.
And you are getting all of your thyroid hormone directly from medication which does not require these ingredients.
So remember this distinction...
You don't need thyroid support supplements which help produce thyroid hormone.
Instead, you need thyroid support supplements which help support thyroid conversion and help your medication do its job.
And this is exactly what we are going to be talking about.
Supplements that Thyroidectomy Patients Can Take
The supplements listed below are specifically designed to help those WITHOUT a thyroid.
They work by bypassing the thyroid hormone production pathways and instead focus on the pathways and systems that people WITHOUT a thyroid need.
#1. Thyroid Conversion Support.
One of the main areas of supplementation that you should focus on is that of thyroid conversion.
And this is a topic that most thyroid patients, including those who don't have a thyroid, are not even aware of.
Thyroid conversion refers to the process in which T4 in your body (the inactive thyroid hormone) is converted to the active thyroid hormone T3.
This process is occurring all the time in healthy individuals who have a thyroid.
Your body gets T3 both directly from the thyroid gland and from thyroid conversion in peripheral tissues.
But once you lose your thyroid, you are no longer able to directly produce T3 which seriously limits how much T3 is typically found in your body.
And, to make matters worse, most thyroid medications that patients without a thyroid take contain only T4 thyroid hormone.
Medications like levothyroxine and Synthroid fit into this category which are the medications that most thyroidectomy patients take.
This means that you are no longer getting T3 directly from your thyroid gland (because it's been removed) and you aren't getting it from your thyroid medication.
We also know, from recent medical research, that most people on T4 only medications do not convert enough of their thyroid medication into the active T3 thyroid hormone.
This is both a big problem and a big opportunity.
A big problem in the sense that people without a thyroid suffer from low T3 and persistent thyroid symptoms but a huge opportunity because it's possible to target this conversion process and SUPPORT it with the right supplements!
This provides a way for you to basically make your thyroid medication even more effective by helping it convert to the active thyroid hormone.
Which supplements help do this? There are several so I've included my most favorite below:
All of these ingredients can help either directly (in the case of Zinc, selenium, and guggul) or indirectly (in the case of fish oil and ashwagandha) help improve T4 to T3 conversion.
Does this mean you need to use all of these products? Not necessarily, but as a patient without a thyroid it would be in your best interest to use several of them.
I've included my favorite ingredients in this formula which are specifically designed to support T4 to T3 conversion and can be used by those without a thyroid.
Whether you choose to use one of my products isn't really important. Just make sure that you are doing SOMETHING to support this conversion process!
#2. Gut Health Support.
The next set of supplements you should focus on if you don't have a thyroid are those which help support your gut.
The 'gut' is a general term used to describe pretty much all of the important functions found in your stomach, small intestines, and large intestines.
And while these organs/tissues are important for general health they are ESPECIALLY important for thyroid patients, especially those WITHOUT a thyroid!
For starters, your gut is the place of roughly 20% of T4 to T3 conversion for the entire body (1).
This means that about 20% of the T3 found in your body comes from conversion in the gut.
And if you have any sort of gut problems that percentage starts to drop dramatically.
And that's not all.
Your gut is also the place of thyroid medication absorption.
And if you don't have a thyroid there is a 100% chance that you are taking thyroid medication.
And if that thyroid medication is not being absorbed completely due to things like gut inflammation or damage to the intestinal lining (2), you will simply not feel better.
So improving your gut can help improve thyroid function both directly (with thyroid conversion) and indirectly (by helping improve thyroid medication absorption).
Regardless, it's something that you should absolutely think about if you don't have a thyroid.
But how do you improve this general idea of 'gut' health?
There are actually many therapies but some of my favorites include:
- Probiotics - Probiotics help normalize the concentration of gut bacteria in your GI tract.
- Prebiotics - Prebiotics help beneficial bacteria GROW and proliferate.
- Fermented foods - Fermented foods, such as kefir, can act like natural sources of probiotics and prebiotics.
- L-glutamine - L-glutamine helps repair damage done to the intestinal lining and is great for healing gut damage.
- Berberine - Berberine is one of my favorites as it is both a weight loss supplement and it also acts as a natural anti-bacterial agent for unhealthy microbes in the gut.
You can use any or all of these supplements to help improve thyroid function.
#3. Thyroid Receptor Sensitivity support.
Another area you can focus on is what is known as thyroid receptor sensitivity.
Just getting thyroid hormone into your body (absorbed through the intestinal tract) and then converted is not enough to ensure that this thyroid hormone will work.
Even after both of these steps, you MUST make sure that your cells are sensitive to the thyroid hormone which is available in your body.
And this applies to people WITH a thyroid and WITHOUT a thyroid gland (so the population of those who are post thyroidectomy).
Whether your thyroid gland produces your own thyroid hormone or whether you are taking your thyroid hormone by mouth through medications like levothyroxine or Synthroid, that thyroid hormone MUST target and activate certain cells.
And it's actually not uncommon that this is halted due to problems with cellular resistance.
In both of the hormone resistance syndromes listed above, the hormones are present in the body but they are not able to do their job due to cellular resistance.
So the question is, how can you improve thyroid hormone cellular sensitivity?
And the answer is through a couple of very specific supplements and ingredients:
- Vitamin A (3)
- Vitamin E
We know that a deficiency in either of these hormones INCREASES thyroid hormone resistance.
Which means that using these supplements, in the case of deficiency, can improve that sensitivity.
Taking these supplements can, therefore, help the thyroid hormone floating around in your system do its job.
Which is exactly what you want.
#4. General Hormone and Nutrient Support.
Let's not forget that just because you don't have a thyroid doesn't mean that you don't have OTHER nutrient deficiencies!
Thyroid patients, in general, are incredibly susceptible to developing certain nutrient deficiencies.
And these susceptibilities stem from not having enough thyroid function in your body.
So any susceptibility that a hypothyroid patient has is one that you will have if you don't have a thyroid.
Because you are functionally considered to be hypothyroid once your thyroid is removed.
This means that you can and should look at OTHER nutrient deficiencies which are peripherally related to both your thyroid and other hormone balance.
These are ALL nutrients which can become depleted due to LOW thyroid function.
Having said that, it doesn't mean you need to run out and supplement with them right away (though that may not be a bad idea).
But you should consider testing for those which are testable (Iron and Vitamin B12 are included here).
Zinc and Selenium are a safe bet for supplementation because they help support T4 to T3 conversion and they can't really be tested for accurately.
If you are someone who no longer has a thyroid then you should really consider supplementing in order to improve thyroid function.
Not only can supplements help enhance thyroid function in your body they are also valuable at helping balance other hormone systems and improving your overall symptoms.
Use this guide as a general place to start.
If you are still confused after reading this I have put together what I think are the most critical and important supplements for people who don't have a thyroid which you can find here.
These supplements help target all of the thyroid functions and other organ systems in this article so you don't have to look for individual supplements.
If you don't want to use my recommendations, no problem, but just be sure to try something!
You'll be surprised at how helpful supplements can be.
Now I want to hear from you:
Are you currently taking supplements to support thyroid function?
Have you tried a thyroid support supplement if you've had your thyroid removed?
Did you have any success with it? Why or why not?
Which supplements are you considering at this time?
Leave your questions or comments below!
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