January 10

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For Hashimoto’s, Focus More On The Root Versus Supplementation First

Working towards remission is what most with Hashimoto's strive to do. But, did you know that supplements can cause more harm than good with Hashimoto's? Learn why you should proceed with caution.

By Sunny Brigham, MS, CNS, LDN

January 10, 2022

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When working to put your Hashimoto’s into remission, it’s easy to want to focus on taking supplements. It’s an easy thing to do. I see all sorts of questions about which supplements to take inside my free Facebook group. 

But, are supplements the right place to start? For some, no. Actually, for many, no. 

But I get it! It’s easier to add in a supplement than it is to overhaul the diet. Or add in some much needed “you” time. When making changes, most start with the easier things. Just like when trying to lose weight, we start in the gym instead of the kitchen. 

After reading this blog, you’ll understand why supplements aren’t the first thing you should focus on when working towards Hashimoto’s remission. 

Focus on the Root Cause

Supplements are meant to supplement your diet and lifestyle changes. It’s in the name. Merriam-Webster defines supplement as “something added to something else to make it complete.”

Like I mentioned, I totally get why starting with supplements feels easy. And some may even find some relief with supplements. But you have to discover why you developed Hashimoto’s and focus on the bigger picture. 

There’s a lot of information on the web about viruses, mold, Candida, etc as being the root cause. The commonality between these all is that they create massive amounts of stress in the body. And stress is a major factor in the development of Hashimoto’s. 

Understanding why you developed Hashimoto’s will help you determine the best path for you to take towards healing. Now, on that path, you’ll likely take some supplements recommended by your practitioner. But those supplements will be timed and tailored to your plan. They won’t be supplements that just about everyone else takes. 

Timing matters as well. I see so many add in probiotics on a whim. Or because they heard they’re supposed to help heal the gut. I came across an analogy once and I use it often. If you have a diseased lake that’s killing the fish, and you add more fish to the lake…those fish will also die. You have to rid the lake of the disease first before adding healthy fish to it. 

Think of your gut in this manner. If your GI tract is a mess and you’re dealing with alllll the Hashimoto’s symptoms, timing of that probiotic makes the difference between healing fast or throwing your money in the garbage. 

Hashimoto’s Supplements Quality

Just like with food, quality matters. Not all supplements are created equal. And many contain fillers that are going to make Hashimoto’s symptoms so much worse. 

Labdoor.com is one of my favorite and free websites for supplement quality. They complete third-party quality reviews of various supplements. And they publish their reports. This helps you make an informed decision on which supplements to purchase. 

If we look at Kirkland’s fish oil. It’s a 1000 mg fish oil supplement that’s widely used. Third party testing revealed out of 1000 mg, there’s actually only 380 mg of omega-3 fatty acids in this supplement. 

Essentially, your money could be better spent elsewhere. Good quality fish oil supplements will contain more than 60% omega-3s. Kirkland was <40%. 

Knowing what you’re putting into your body is important. I talk about this often when it comes to food. And so many women in my Facebook group are working to remove trigger foods to help calm inflammation. But they may not be paying as much attention to supplement quality as they should. 

Do you know what’s in your supplements?

Downsides to Hashimoto’s Supplements

There are downsides to supplements. A lot actually. But let’s talk about selenium. Selenium is insanely important to the thyroid. It’s needed to make T3 from T4. And if you open Google and type in “selenium supplements Hashimoto’s,” you’ll get bombarded with blog after blog telling you to take selenium supplements.

There have been a handful of studies showing that selenium supplementation can decrease TPO antibodies. This has fueled so many to take selenium supplements. But if we look at the full systematic review of all of these studies…they aren’t looking at the downsides of selenium supplementation. 

You can have too much selenium. Selenium isn’t something people tend to be deficient in. And supplementing selenium when you don’t need any can backfire pretty quickly. 

Too much selenium is linked to the development of insulin resistance. Something that most people with Hashimoto’s already have. But it can also result in some not-so-fun side effects like…

  • diarrhea
  • hair loss
  • brittle nails

Many of these things you’re already dealing with. Too much selenium will just make it worse. 

Now, this is just one example. But hopefully, you can see that taking a supplement without really knowing what’s going on in your body can backfire on you. 

Medication Interactions

Just because you can buy supplements over the counter doesn’t mean they’re without risk. For all my clients, I check interactions with their medications and supplements they consume. 

For instance, blood thinners interact with vitamin K. This nutrient is found in leafy greens and all multivitamins. 

Some mood stabilizers like Zoloft and some statins like Crestor interact with a specific enzyme found in grapefruits…a common breakfast staple for many. 

Oregon grape, an additive in a lot of anti-inflammatory supplements is contraindicated when taking certain anti-inflammatory medications like Advil, IBuprofen, and Celebrex (I have several clients taking Celebrex). 

And almost all herbs are contraindicated in pregnancy or breastfeeding women. 

Know what you’re taking and how it’s all going to affect your body and your medications. 

With all that said...

...supplements can be a great way to supplement diet and lifestyle alterations as you work towards Hashimoto’s remission. Timing, quality, and focusing on the root cause are the most important things you can do. 

Are you focusing on it? If not, this is your sign to refocus on the root of your Hashimoto’s. And supplement to supplement…not to fix. 

I recorded a short, 3-minute podcast to dive a bit deeper into supplements and Hashimoto’s. Click below to listen. If you like what you hear, why not subscribe  to my podcast on your favorite podcast platform? And while you’re subscribing, leave me a review!

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