Zinc Supplementation for Hypothyroidism

Introduction

There are many supplements to help thyroid gland. One of these supplements is zinc.1 Zinc is a nutrient that performs vital roles in your body.1 Zinc is not naturally produced by the body so obtaining zinc by eating food or supplements is necessary.1 Zinc is known as an essential nutrient which means the body does not naturally produce or store it.1 Zinc is used by the body to perform functions such as gene expression, immune function, enzymatic reactions, DNA synthesis, growth and development and protein synthesis.1 Zinc can be found in a variety of in both animal and plant foods and also made synthetically.1 Zinc is one of the most common trace minerals in the body and can be found in every cell.1 Zinc is used by over 300 enzymes that assist in nerve function, metabolism, digestion, and other functions.1 The rest of the letter will discuss how zinc plays a role in hypothyroidism.1

What is hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone.2 When hormone production is limited due to the thyroid gland not functioning properly, it can negatively influence numerous chemical reactions in the body.2 The thyroid gland helps regulate metabolism of numerous body functions such as reproduction, DNA synthesis, temperature, and heart rate. Some factors that can cause hypothyroidism include autoimmune disease, thyroid surgery, radiation therapy, and medications.2 Symptoms include fatigue, weight gain, slowed heart rate, elevated blood cholesterol level, dry skin, constipation, and sensitivity to cold and an enlarged thyroid gland (goiter).2 Hypothyroidism can be treated by many thyroid medications, but there are many studies out there demonstrating zinc supplementation and its possible role in hypothyroid management.3  

How does zinc help with hypothyroidism?

Zinc is one of the trace elements used by the body for the synthesis of thyroid hormones.3 Zinc and thyroid metabolism are closely related.3 In a case report a 28-year-old woman had symptoms of weakness, lack of appetite, diffuse hair loss, and scaly skin lesions.3 Thyroid hormones control the growth of hair follicles and if levels are low hair follicles may stop regenerating.3 This woman had no prior history of malabsorption or connective tissue disease.3 The patient presented with noticeable alopecia on the scalp and occipital area.3 The woman’s eyebrows and eyelashes were also severely thinning.3 Thyroid function tests were done and showed T3 levels were 70ng/dl (normal 80-200), T4 levels were 2mcg/dl (normal 4-12), and TSH levels were 64IU/ml (normal 0.30-4.5).3 The subjects zinc levels were estimated at 62mcg/dl (normal 66-144mcg/dl with optimal levels being 90-150mcg/dl).3 Thyroid hormone supplementation was started initially with no improvements in symptoms of scaly lesions and alopecia.3 Zinc supplementation was added on afterwards.3 Zinc monohydrate 140mg capsules with 50 mg elemental zinc was given twice daily.3 In a span of one month after zinc supplementation was started the skin lesions went away.3 Complete hair growth and regeneration occurred within a time span of 4 months.3 The study concluded that zinc deficiency is often a diagnosis that is missed.3 Hair changes such as alopecia, dryness, brittleness, structural abnormalities, and loss of pigmentation may occur.3 It is important to note that zinc levels in the hair are a more reliable indicator of zinc deficiency.3 This is mainly due to zinc fluctuating from plasma to another body pool.3 Using thyroid supplementation with add-on zinc supplementation can improve thyroid levels and zinc levels in the body.3 This can treat hypothyroid problems such as trouble with hair growth and regeneration.3

How do you take zinc?

Food sources that have a good amount of zinc content in them are shellfish, fish, meat, legumes, dairy products, eggs, and whole grains.1 Animal products such as shellfish and meats have the highest amount of zinc in then that the body more readily absorbs.1 Products containing zinc such as whole grains have zinc in a form that is not as easily absorbed by the body.1 Breakfast cereals, baking flours and snack bars contain fortified zinc at a higher concentration.1 Zinc can also be found as a supplementation.1 The recommend daily intake of zinc varies by gender.1 For adult males 11mg daily is recommended and for adult females 8mg daily is recommended.1 Special populations such as those that are pregnant or breastfeeding should take 11-12mg respectively.1

Safety of zinc

The recommended daily intake for adult males is 11mg and for females 8mg.1 Certain people may have differing intake requirements such as those that are breastfeeding or pregnant.1 People with medical conditions that inhibit absorption of zinc should talk to their prescriber for the appropriate daily intake of zinc.1 The upper intake level for zinc is 40mg daily, but this level is not for people that have zinc deficiencies that may require high dose supplements.1 Supplements that are available are zinc citrate, zinc gluconate, and zinc oxide.1 Zinc oxide is not as easily absorbed in the body, so the other two forms are preferred.1 If you are planning on using zinc supplementation for your hypothyroidism, please consult your healthcare provider to make sure it is safe and appropriate for you.1 Excessive zinc intake can cause adverse event both acute and chronic.1 Toxicity symptoms of zinc include nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and headaches.1 Excessive zinc can also cause other nutrient deficiencies such as copper deficiency.1  

Conclusion

Herbal supplements for hypothyroidism such as zinc are one of the many supplements for hypothyroidism that can be used to assist patients to achieve better thyroid levels and control.1,3 Zinc comes in a variety of forms including natural foods typically higher concentrations are found in seafood, and meats.1 Zinc can also come in the form of a dietary supplement.1 Although well tolerated by most patients zinc can cause some potentially serious side effects if consumed in high enough quantities and these adverse reactions vary from person to person.1 Adverse reactions can include nausea, vomiting, headaches and abdominal cramps. Studies have proven zinc’s positive role in hypothyroidism patients especially those suffering from hair loss.3 If you are planning on using zinc supplementation for your hypothyroidism, please consult your healthcare provider to make sure it is safe and appropriate for you.

References:

  1. Kubala, Jillian. “Zinc: Benefits, Deficiency, Food Sources and Side Effects.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 14 Nov. 2018, www.healthline.com/nutrition/zinc.
  2. “Hypothyroidism (Underactive Thyroid).” Mayo Clinic, 7 Jan. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hypothyroidism/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20350289.
  3. Betsy, Ambooken et al. “Zinc deficiency associated with hypothyroidism: an overlooked cause of severe alopecia.” International journal of trichology vol. 5,1 (2013): 40-2. doi:10.4103/0974-7753.114714

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Energetic marketing graduate passionate about Internet marketing. Skilled in project management, with strong foundations in data visualization and research.