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Selenium & Kelp for Hypothyroidism

By Megan Ashton

Hypothyroidism is characterized by an underproduction of thyroid hormones. There are many symptoms that can arise from hypothyroidism, and some of the most common include an intolerance to cold, fatigue, an inability to concentrate and weight gain. Selenium and kelp may help to promote healthy thyroid function and to manage symptoms of hypothyroidism. Consult with your health care practitioner before taking any new nutritional supplement.


Kelp is a brown seaweed, rich in the essential mineral iodine. Kelp consumption may therefore be beneficial to patients with goiters, a type of hypothyroidism that is caused by a severe iodine deficiency. About 30 percent of your body’s thyroid stores are concentrated in your thyroid and iodine is required for the proper synthesis of thyroid hormones. Goiter is rare in the United States because most table salt is iodized. However, symptoms of hypothyroidism may appear in those who have low levels of iodine, but whom are not clinically defined as deficient in the mineral. Your doctor can test your iodine levels and if they are on the low side, then the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition recommends consuming 5 mg of kelp daily. The school advises that it may take between two and four months before you experience a considerable reduction in symptoms.

Selenium and Hashimoto's Disease

Selenium is an essential mineral found in foods such as nuts, seeds, poultry and eggs. It may be especially beneficial to Hashimoto disease-induced hypothyroidism, which is the most common cause of an underactive thyroid, states Phyllis Balch and James Balch, M.D., in their book “Prescription for Nutritional Healing." People with Hashimoto’s diseases are allergic to their own thyroid hormones. As a result, their immune systems produce antibodies which attack their thyroid tissue. According to “Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database,” studies suggest that 200 mcg of selenium daily, taken in combination with the conventional hypothyroid drug levothyroxine, can significantly reduce the production of the thyroid attacking antibodies. In addition, patients taking the combination also reported an improvement in quality of life, feelings of well being and mood. It should be noted however, that selenium was not effective in children with Hashimoto disease.

Selenium and Thyroid Hormone Production

Selenium may also be beneficial to hypothyroid sufferers who don’t have Hashimotos disease. Low selenium levels and/or clinical selenium deficiencies appear to reduce your body’s ability to synthesize the thyroid hormone – triiodothyronine, commonly referred to as T3. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database recommends 200 to 400 mcg daily, but warns that people who have iodine deficiency induced hypothyroidism, are unlikely to benefit from selenium supplements.

Possible Side Effects

Kelp and selenium can both cause unwanted side effects. Due to the iodine content of kelp, kelp may cause irregular heartbeat, confusion, unusual tiredness, acne or rash, states drugs.com. Selenium is considered well-tolerated when taken in doses not exceeding 400 mcg a day. However, higher amounts may cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fatigue and irritability.

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