An estimated 13% of the population is deficient in iodine. For these people, thyroid function can be disrupted by eating high doses of soy isoflavones.
Resident Medical Authority: J. E. Williams, OMD, FAAIM
THYROID HEALTH: Q & A
Q: I am working with my doctor to lower my dose of levoxyl I take for hypothyroidism. Years ago I was told I had Hashimoto’s Disease and would need thyroid medicine for the rest of my life. While my doctor has been working with me to help me lower my dose as I make lifestyle changes to become healthier, she isn’t trained or educated in the field of study that states it is possible to regain total health and no longer need the thyroid meds. Does your thyroid program with Dr. Williams help for people currently on thyroid meds and wish to slowly and properly lower their dose to regain endocrine optimal health or just for people with borderline thyroid issues?
A: It’s possible, but not easy, to restore the thyroid gland to normal health. You’ve taken a good first step my getting the excess production of Thyroid Stimulation Hormone (TSH) under control with thyroid hormone replacement. The next step is to change from synthetic T4 (Levoxyl) to a bio-identical form like Armor Thyroid. When your thyroid blood tests, including antibody tests, are normalized, you can begin adding in endocrine corrective supplements like iodine, tyrosine, and selenium, as well as eating a thyroid friendly diet. Hashimoto’s Disease is a complex autoimmune disorders, so you’ll need a physician partner with experience in thyroid health to guide the process.
Q: Does anybody remember how Oprah talked about drinking her soy smoothie every morning, and now has a problem with hypothyroid? Is there a connection?
A: American women have taken to soymilk for their café lattés and smoothies like fish to water. However, though soy when eaten in moderation is healthy and balancing, too much soy consumption can dampen thyroid function is some people. Thousands of years of eating soy in China and modern science informs us that soy doesn’t disrupt thyroid function in those with normal thyroid function and adequate iodine. Postmenopausal women between the ages of 64 and 83 seem to handle soy isoflavones well. In one study, after six months, the differences in thyroid hormones between the groups who ate soy and those who consumed a placebo were statistically indistinguishable. However, soy isoflavones in high doses can disrupt thyroid function in those who are iodine deficient (an estimated 13% of the population), in those who have compromised thyroid function, and should be used sparingly in younger women.
Q: My concern is that I no longer have my thyroid (removed 43 years ago) and all the information I have found talks about strengthening and helping the gland. When I find information that does, in fact, talk about the removal of the gland, it is usually just one line indicating that the person will be on synthetic thyroid replacement the rest of their lives. I would like more specific information, i.e. would the regular blood tests for free T4 and T3 and TSH be the same for me (and others like me) or not. The endocrinologist I attend is lowering my dose, and I am suffering with every symptom of hypothroidism.
A: When your thyroid gland is completely removed, you need thyroid hormone replacement, and possibly also parathyroid hormone. However, synthetic T4 is only a part of the answer. It may make the blood test numbers for TSH and free T4 fit the accepted ranges, but you can still have low thyroid symptoms. Unless T3 is addressed adequately through replacement with a synthetic form (Cytomel) or a bio-identical T3/T4 combination, or a natural T2/T3/T4 dessicated form (Armor), you will continue to function below optimal. You also need to support T4 to T3 conversion with vitamin A, D, and selenium, as well as have adequate dietary iodine.
We want to know your thoughts: Do you eat soy or not? Think it’s healthy?
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