The body is a remarkable system. Like any system, every part affects all the others. Consequently, focusing on just one nutrient usually doesn’t make a lot of sense. When it comes to thyroid function, people often think about iodine. This mineral is integral to thyroid hormones. But selenium is also crucial, because it is part of the enzymes that the thyroid gland relies upon.
Do You Need Selenium Supplements?
Q. I have hypothyroidism and I take medication for it. I was alarmed to read recently that unless you take selenium with it, the medicine won’t work well. Is this correct?
A. While people with low thyroid function do need adequate selenium, it is not necessary to take this mineral with your levothyroxine. You can usually get enough by eating a healthful diet. Make sure you eat some foods such as halibut, sardines, shrimp, eggs, chicken, mushrooms, cottage cheese or brown rice.
Brazil nuts are very rich in this mineral; you’d only need one or two a day to get the selenium you need. Be careful not to eat too many.
Selenium is essential for the proper functioning of the immune system as well as the thyroid gland (Stuss et al, Endokrynologia Polska, 2017). It is not clear, however, how often supplements are useful in treating hypothyroidism (Winther, Bonnema & Hegedus, Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Obesity, Oct. 2017). It appears that you should correct a deficiency, but you might not need to take this mineral as a supplement otherwise.