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Zinc and Thyroid Relationship

foods with zinc mineral on a wooden table. top view

Thyroid health is influenced by several minerals and vitamins including Zinc, Selenium, Vitamin A, E and others. Of these Zinc plays a vital role. Zinc is one of the essential elements that help to regulate body functions. It is necessary for several biochemical processes that occur in the body and also for cellular growth.

Due to the inability of the body to synthesize zinc, you need to include zinc in the form of natural food sources or as dietary supplements.

Zinc helps to boost immunity, protein metabolism, and detoxification, wound healing, insulin sensitivity and testosterone production.

It can help minimize the severity of common cold, reduce susceptibility to various infections and regulate the ovulation cycle.

Zinc and thyroid

Zinc is important for production of thyroid hormone. It is necessary to maintain the metabolic rate of thyroid hormones and for the resting metabolic rate normalization. Zinc absorption by the body requires thyroid hormone too.

Diffuse loss of hair is a common symptom seen in hypothyroidism. Since thyroid hormone production is influenced by minerals such as copper, selenium and Zinc, deficiency of these substances can cause hypothyroidism.

At the same time, thyroid hormone is needed for the body to absorb zinc. Hence with lower levels of thyroid hormones as in hypothyroidism, there is acquired deficiency of zinc. While thyroid hormone supplements like thyroxine are recommended for improving hypothyroidism, it is not sufficient for treating symptoms such as hair loss.

Adding zinc supplements to thyroxine has been found to be effective, according to this 2013 study published in International Journal of Trichology.

The study reveals the close relationship of zinc and thyroid hormone. With zinc supplement added to thyroxine dosage, the patient with hypothyroidism studied showed marked improvement in hair growth. Taste acuity, skin lesions, appetite and mental depression also showed good improvement.

The study concludes that in hypothyroidism the impact on zinc metabolism should be considered and zinc deficiency evaluated for proper treatment protocol.

Another study published in 2010, reveals the relationship between zinc levels in the serum and volume of thyroid in patients with goiter, autoimmune thyroid disease, and in patients where the thyroid gland is normal.

Deficiency of Zinc can lead to abnormalities in thyroid hormone production. A 1981 study published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that serum T3 and levels of free T3 were lowered in patients with gastrointestinal and hepatic disorders.   Another 1994 study on effect of zinc supplementation in changing metabolism of thyroid hormone in disabled individuals reveals that Zinc can influence the metabolism of thyroid hormone in patients with low levels of T3 and can help in converting T4 to T3.

Zinc for thyroid health

Zinc with its multiple benefits is a significant element required for various processes in the body especially metabolism of thyroid hormone. A recent double blind controlled study reveals that obese and overweight hypothyroid patients provided with zinc and selenium supplements showed a decreased TSH and increase in T4 levels.

Low levels of zinc also lead to higher risk of autoimmunity as there is a high amount of anti-thyroid antibodies Tg and TPO found in thyroid conditions where zinc level is low. In addition to influencing various thyroid disorders positively, zinc also helps in synthesis of protein and DNA, improved immunity and normal growth of body.

Maintaining zinc levels

To receive the entire benefits of Zinc, it is necessary to ensure you consume the appropriate amount of Zinc. It helps ensure proper growth that incudes improved cell division, adulthood growth and pregnancy.

You should add the proper amounts of the element as supplement or from natural food sources that are rich in Zinc such as poultry, oysters, seafood like lobster and crab, dairy products and oysters. Cereals, nuts, legumes, beans and whole grains are the plant based sources that have rich zinc content.

Thyroid supplements contain Zinc as one of the several ingredients that include Iodine, Vitamin A and other nutrients. Animal sources enable better absorption than the plant based sources. This is because the plant sources also contain phytates, which can prevent Zinc absorption.

Vegetarians who need more Zinc when compared to non-vegetarians can use the plant sources without being affected by the presence of phytates by following certain food preparation methods like soaking seeds, grains and beans for many hours prior to cooking them. Leavened grain products also break down phytates leading to better zinc absorption.

Final thoughts

Zinc plays a key role in thyroid health given its relation to thyroid hormone level regulation.

At the same time Zinc levels in the body are influenced by thyroid function. Adding Zinc supplements can help with several symptoms of hypothyroidism such as hair loss.

A diet rich in zinc is another way to ensure you get the right amount of zinc required by the body. However as with any supplements the changes will take a long time to be noticeable. While you are adding zinc supplements ensure you do not take excessive doses which can cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, headaches and abdominal cramps.

When you adhere to the recommended dose of Zinc along with including a diet rich in zinc you can prevent exacerbation of thyroid condition due to Zinc deficiency.

By taking proper hypothyroid medications you can also ensure zinc is available readily for maintenance of thyroid and overall health of the body.

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