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Your thyroid needs iodine to work well. Most people in the U.S. get enough of this element from their diet, usually through fish and dairy products. Make sure you’re using iodized table salt at home. You can tell by looking at the label.

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fresh spinach
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Leafy Greens

Spinach, lettuce, and other examples are great sources of magnesium, an all-star mineral that plays a huge role in your body processes. Fatigue, muscle cramps, and changes in your heartbeat could be signs that you're not getting enough.

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Assorted nuts
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Cashews, almonds, and pumpkin seeds are excellent sources of iron. Brazil nuts help your thyroid in two ways. Not only are they a good source of iron, but they're also rich in selenium, another mineral that supports your thyroid. Just a few each day give you the selenium you need.

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grilled salmon
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Fish, shrimp, and seaweed are great sources of iodine. You need iodine for a healthy thyroid, but avoid large amounts of iodine-rich choices like kelp. That may make your condition worse.

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fresh kale
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Could that superstar among superfoods, actually not be quite so awesome? Kale is a mild goitrogen -- in rare cases it prevents the thyroid from getting enough iodine. But kale shouldn't be a problem for you unless you get very little iodine in your diet and you’re eating large amounts of kale. This is also the case (in varying degrees) for cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.  

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In rare cases, some of the chemicals found in soy products like soy milk or edamame could hurt your thyroid’s ability to make hormones, but only if you don't get enough iodine and eat large amounts. Just like with kale, if your iodine levels are OK, you probably don’t need to worry about soy.

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sauteed  liver
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Organ Meats

If you eat things like kidneys, heart, or liver, you might get a lot of lipoic acid. That's a compound in these and some other foods. You can also buy it as a supplement. But if you get too much, it could mess with the way your thyroid works. Lipoic acid could also affect the thyroid medicines you take.

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Gluten and Your Thyroid

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Unless you've been diagnosed with celiac disease, it probably won’t affect your thyroid. Gluten can damage the small intestines of people with celiac disease. They can have other autoimmune disorders like Hashimoto’s disease (which leads to an underactive thyroid) and Graves' disease (which leads to an overactive thyroid). If you have celiac disease, a gluten-free diet may help prevent these thyroid diseases.

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Prescription medication
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Thyroid Medication and Your Food

The foods you eat can affect your thyroid medicine. They can slow down how your body absorbs medicine. It can also affect how well it does it.

  • Take medicine on an empty stomach, preferably in the morning.
  • Iron and calcium can interact with your thyroid medicine and keep it from working.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information about timing your food and other meds around your thyroid treatment.
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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 11/05/2019 Reviewed by Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD on November 05, 2019




American College of Cardiology: "Thyroid Disease: Hyperthyroidism."
American Heart Association: "Sea Salt Vs. Table Salt."
American Thyroid Association: "Iodine Deficiency."
Harvard Health Publications: "Do Soy Products Cause Thyroid Problems?"
The Johns Hopkins Lupus Center: "Thyroid Medications."
Linus Pauling Institute: "Cruciferous Vegetables, Lipoic Acid."
MedlinePlus: "Thyroid."
Merck Manuals: "Overview of Magnesium."
National Foundation for Celiac Awareness: "Celiac and the Thyroid, Thyroid Disease, What is Celiac Disease?"
National Institutes of Health: "Iodine."
National Institutes of Health: "Magnesium."
Office on Women’s Health: "Thyroid Disease Fact Sheet."
Sanford Health: "Alpha-Lipoic Acid."
Swaminathan, S. Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences, 2010.
Truong, T. Cancer Causes and Control, August 2010.
University of Maryland Medical Center: "Magnesium."
University of Wisconsin Integrative Medicine / Department of Family Medicine: "Integrative Treatment of Hypothyroidism."

Reviewed by Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD on November 05, 2019

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.


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