Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. Some people experience hypothyroidism as a result of an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks its own cells, resulting in diminished thyroid hormone excretion. Most people who have hypothyroidism must take some form of medication, such as levothyroxine, to replenish their diminished levels of thyroid hormone. Some types of supplements, such as fish oil, may also help with symptoms of hypothyroidism.
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Hypothyroidism may be the result of thyroid inflammation, iodine deficiency, removal of part of the thyroid gland or a reaction to some kinds of medications. People with hypothyroidism often experience cold skin, pallor, weakness, swelling around the eyes, lethargy and constipation. Replacement therapy is necessary to boost thyroid levels back into the normal range. Levothyroxine is a type of hormone replacement often used when the thyroid is producing inadequate amounts of this hormone.
A study in the April 2002 “Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism” concluded that supplementing with the trace element selenium may help to reduce inflammation associated with autoimmune hypothyroidism. Selenium is found in several foods and is also a component of fish oil. Fish oil supplementation may provide some of the selenium needed for hypothyroidism due to an autoimmune disorder, but check with your doctor if you are taking levothyroxine supplements.
Fish oil is the oily part of fish, which you can get from eating fish or taking fish oil supplements. Fish oil is high in nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids that may help with brain development. Additionally, fish oil may benefit heart health by lowering blood pressure and reducing the effects of inflammation on the blood vessels. If you want to take fish oil to benefit your thyroid function, you can increase your fish intake to 12 oz. per week of fish such as tuna, salmon, herring or catfish.
If you are taking levothyroxine for thyroid hormones, talk with your doctor before taking fish oil to treat your condition. Your doctor can advise you about the appropriate treatment for your hypothyroidism. There are no interactions between levothyroxine and fish oil, but either supplement may have an effect on other types of medications you may be taking.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Drugs.com: Levothyroxine
- “American Family Physician”; Treatment of Hypothyroidism; William J. Hueston, MD; November 2001
- “Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism”; Selenium Supplementation in Patients With Autoimmune Thyroiditis Decreases Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies Concentrations; Roland Gartner, et al.; April 2002
- “Honolulu Star Bulletin”; Scientists Contemplate Most Important Nutrients; Joannie Dobbs, et al.; April 2011
- Harvard School of Public Health: Fish: Friend or Foe?
- The People’s Pharmacy; Levothyroxine; Joe and Terry Graedon; April 2000