If you’re over the age of 50 and suffer from extreme fatigue and weight gain, there’s a good chance you have hypothyroidism. Some estimate that 10% of women over 50 have the condition. But my friend and colleague Dr. Frank Shallenberger says this is one of the most under-diagnosed problems he sees. So the number is likely much higher.
Amazingly, doctors write more than 70 million prescriptions for Synthroid every year. Why is that amazing? Because many of these cases don’t really need Synthroid — the synthetic T4 thyroid drug.
You see, many cases of hypothyroidism don’t need drugs or hormone replacement. Many cases are simply a nutrient deficiency. Specifically, deficiencies in the minerals iodine, iron, or selenium can cause the thyroid to underperform.
Iodine is the first one to try. It’s vital for the health of your thyroid gland. This tiny gland needs iodine whether it’s working normally, underactive (hypothyroidism), overactive (Graves' disease), or is enlarged (goiter). Adequate iodine normalizes all these conditions.
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Unfortunately, few of us get enough iodine. Dr. Guy Abraham, one of the world’s foremost iodine researchers, found that more than 90% of us are low in iodine. So if you have any symptoms of hypothyroidism, or your doctor has diagnosed the condition, start by taking an iodine supplement to see if that solves the problem.
The RDA for iodine is a measly 0.15 mg. That’s 400 times less than the amount Dr. Abraham says we need. His testing showed that we need 50 mg of iodine/iodide a day. In this amount, iodine can effectively regulate various body functions, including your thyroid. You can order Dr. Abraham’s iodine supplement Iodoral from various websites.
As for iron, this is less likely to be the cause of hypothyroidism. Most women over 50 have stopped their menstrual cycle and most men over 50 don’t lose enough blood to be deficient. But it’s still possible. You’ll want to have your doctor check your levels and supplement appropriately. Don’t take iron unless you have a confirmed deficiency, as too much iron can cause other problems.
In the July 2000 issue of The Lancet, researchers said that low selenium levels can directly affect the thyroid’s ability to function properly. The best way to protect yourself from a selenium deficiency is to take a multivitamin, such as Healthy Resolve, that has 200 mcg of selenium in it. That’s enough to protect you against hypothyroidism, heart disease, and many cancers.
If none of these nutrients solve your hypothyroidism, it’s still not time to turn to Synthroid. There are better alternatives on the market. And I’ll tell you about these on Saturday. Hope you have a great week.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.
Women’s Health Letter, August 2004.