For all you green monsters, I just wanted to start off by clarifying where your thyroid gland is and what it does.  The thyroid gland is located in the throat, just below your voice box and almost looks like a butterfly or even like batman’s wings for you superhero junkies.  This butterfly like gland might be pretty small, but it is mighty.  The thyroid gland secretes hormones that helps regulate our metabolism, temperature and balance of calcium in our body, and you can actually affect the function of the thyroid gland through food, medication and activity.  I am sure you have heard people mention that they have an overactive or under-active thyroid.  An overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism is common in women 20-40 years old.  Some of the symptoms you might feel is weakness and fatigue, infertility, increased perspiration, changes to your menstrual cycle, eye irritation, anxiety, sensitivity to heat, weight loss, shaky hands and an increased heart rate.

If you thyroid is under-active or hypothyroidism you could experience sluggishness and fatigue, weight gain, dry hair and skin, brittle nails, irregular menstrual cycles, sensitivity to cold, constipation, depression, irritability, head aches and muscle and joint pain.  Men can also experience issues with their thyroid, but it does tend to be more common in women.

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One thing to be aware of is if a family member has thyroid issues you are at more of a risk genetically.  The key is not to ignore the symptoms, because they could have long term consequences such as anemia, rheumatoid arthritis or neurological disorders.

One of the best ways to keep your thyroid thriving is through nutrients in certain food; the main nutrients that support the thyroid are iodine, selenium, zinc, iron and copper.

Iodine – Iodine is the superhero when it comes to the thyroid.  The thyroid can’t function without it.  High levels of iodine intake all the difference to your thyroid.  If you are deficiant in iodine, the thyroid doesn’t have what it needs to make its key hormones.

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Here are some primary sources of iodine: sea vegetables and iodized sea salt.  Some secondary sources are: asparagus, lima beans, mushrooms, spinach, sesame seeds, summer squash, swiss chard and garlic.

Selenium – Selenium is no slouch either to the thyroid, because helps regulate the thyroid hormone and metabolism.  Selenium also helps it’s partner in crime iodine to more efficiently recycle iodine stores.

Some sources of Selenium are: Brazil Nuts, sunflower seeds, Soybeans and mushrooms

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Zinc – Zinc also plays a role in the healthy function of the thyroid.  Having an under-active and overactive thyroid can sometimes result in zinc deficiency.  So that’s why zinc is so important to the thyroid.

Some sources of zinc are:  whole grains, sunflower seeds, pecans, brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts and ginger root

Copper – Cooper is needed in trace amounts to produce the thyroid stimulating hormone.

Some sources of cooper are:  shitake mushroom, dark chocolate, pearled barley, soybeans, white beans, chick peas, sunflower seeds

Iron – There has been research that has shown a link between iron deficiency and decreased thyroid function.  So if you are anemic and iodine deficient you will also need to replenish your iron levels.

Some sources of Iron are:  soybeans, pumpkin seeds, white beans, lentils, spinach and black strap molasses.

There are studies that have shown that soybeans and curniferious vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussel sprouts contain enzymes that can inhibit proper function of the thyroid.  So this is something to be aware of green monsters!!!

Consult with a health care professional if you are experiencing any thyroid symptoms or are concerned about your thyroid.

Image Source: Stacy Spensley/Flickr