Thyroid, Diet, and Alternative Approaches

Dana Larsen, Sargun Singh, Maria Brito

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Increasingly, patients are asking their physicians about the benefits of dietary and alternative approaches to manage their diseases, including thyroid disease. We seek to review the evidence behind several of the vitamins, minerals, complementary medicines, and elimination diets that patients are most commonly using for the treatment of thyroid disorders. Summary: Several trace elements are essential to normal thyroid function, and their supplementation has been studied in various capacities. Iodine supplementation has been implemented on national scales through universal salt iodization with great success in preventing severe thyroid disease, but can conversely cause thyroid disorders when given in excess. Selenium and zinc supplementation has been found to be beneficial in specific populations with otherwise limited generalizability. Other minerals, such as vitamin B12, low-dose naltrexone, and ashwagandha root extract, have little to no evidence of any impact on thyroid disorders. Avoidance of gluten and dairy has positive impacts only in patients with concomitant sensitivities to those substances, likely by improving absorption of levothyroxine. Avoidance of cruciferous vegetables and soy has little proven benefit in patients with thyroid disorders. Conclusion: While many patients are seeking to avoid conventional therapy and instead turn to alternative and dietary approaches to thyroid disease management, many of the most popular approaches have no proven benefit or have not been well studied. It is our responsibility to educate our patients about the evidence for or against benefit, potential harms, or dearth of knowledge behind these strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2973-2981
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Volume107
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2022

Keywords

  • ashwagandha
  • complementary medicine
  • iodine
  • lifestyle interventions
  • naltrexone

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