Selenium: The Missing Link for Treating Hypothyroidism?

This article is part of a special report on Thyroid Disorders. To see the other articles in this series, click here.

A healthy thyroid is a critical component of one’s overall health, and many people are struggling with thyroid disorders such as hypothyroidism, specifically Hashimoto’s autoimmune thyroiditis. In this autoimmune condition, the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, with the resulting inflammation leading to an underactive thyroid gland or hypothyroidism. Hashimoto’s disease is the most common form of hypothyroidism and was the first condition ever to be classified as an autoimmune disease.

I’ve written extensively about thyroid health, focusing on a multitude of environmental factors that may affect thyroid function, including gluten, gut health, stress, excess iodine, and vitamin D deficiency. I’ve also discussed why dietary changes are always the first step in treating Hashimoto’s, and why replacement thyroid hormone is often necessary for a successful outcome.

There is yet another nutritional factor that may play a role in thyroid health: selenium.

Selenium deficiency is not thought to be common in healthy adults, but is more likely to be found in those with digestive health issues causing poor absorption of nutrients, such as Crohn’s or celiac disease, or those with serious inflammation due to chronic infection. (1, 2) It is thought that selenium deficiency does not specifically cause illness by itself, but that it makes the body more susceptible to illnesses caused by other nutritional, biochemical or infectious stresses, due to its role in immune function. (3) Adequate selenium nutrition supports efficient thyroid hormone synthesis and metabolism and protects the thyroid gland from damage from excessive iodine exposure. (4)

Several research studies have demonstrated the benefits of selenium supplementation in treating autoimmune thyroid conditions. One study found that selenium supplementation had a significant impact on inflammatory activity in thyroid-specific autoimmune disease, and reducing inflammation may limit damage to thyroid tissue. (6) This may be due to the increase in glutathione peroxidase and thioredoxin reductase activity, as well as the decrease in toxic concentrations of hydrogen peroxide and lipid hydroperoxides which result from thyroid hormone synthesis. (7)

Another study followed patients for 9 months, and found that selenium supplementation reduced thyroid peroxidase antibody levels in the blood, even in selenium sufficient patients. (8) While these studies show promise for the use of selenium supplementation in preventing thyroid tissue damage, further research is needed to determine the long-term clinical effects of selenium treatment on inflammatory autoimmune thyroiditis.

Additionally, selenium is also essential for the conversion of T4 to T3, as deiodinase enzymes (those enzymes that remove iodine atoms from T4 during conversion) are selenium-dependent. As I’ve explained before, T3 is the active form of thyroid hormone, and low T3 can cause hypothyroid symptoms. A double-blind intervention study found that selenium supplementation in selenium deficient subjects modulated T4 levels, theoretically by improving peripheral conversion to T3. (9In cases of severe selenium deficiency, conversion of T4 to T3 may be impaired, leading to hypothyroid symptoms. As T3 conversion is not performed by the thyroid, the dependence on selenoproteins for this conversion demonstrates how significant selenium deficiency could lead to hypothyroid symptoms.

So the question is, should you start supplementing with selenium if you have hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, or low T3 levels?

As the answer often is, it depends. These preliminary studies show the positive effects of selenium supplementation on inflammatory activity in autoimmune thyroid conditions, but the long term effects of supplementation on thyroid health are still unknown. And we know that selenium is an essential component of the enzymes that convert T4 to T3, but whether supplementation will increase serum T3 levels is unclear.

While it seems that selenium supplementation would be an obvious solution to poor thyroid function, long term consumption of high doses of selenium can lead to complications such as gastrointestinal upsets, hair loss, white blotchy nails, garlic breath odor, fatigue, irritability, and mild nerve damage. (10) Additionally, supplementing selenium in the context of low iodine status may actually aggravate hypothyroidism. Mario Renato Iwakura discusses this particular topic extensively on Paul Jaminet’s Perfect Health Diet blog.

Moreover, a large clinical trial examining the effects of selenium supplementation on prostate cancer risk in over 35,000 men found that those with normal to high selenium levels at baseline experienced a significant increase in the risk of prostate cancer after supplementing with 200 mcg/d of selenium. For more details on this study, see my article “Important Update on Selenium Supplementation“.

For now, the best option for most people may be to include selenium-rich foods in the context of a healthy Paleo diet. Great sources of selenium include: brazil nuts, crimini mushrooms, cod, shrimp, tuna, halibut, salmon, scallops, chicken, eggs, shiitake mushrooms, lamb, and turkey. Brazil nuts are particularly rich in selenium; it only takes one or two per day to improve your selenium status and boost immune function. (11)

Making sure your selenium intake is optimal may give your immune system and thyroid the boost it needs to help it function better. It is especially important for those managing thyroid conditions to ensure their selenium status is adequate.

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  1. Jana says

    This is a great article, thank you Chris. I have Hashimoto’s and when I was in my hyper phase, my naturopath started me on selenium. It made me feel better and my thyroid actually never went hypo afterwards, just returned to normal. Then I had another hyper episode two years later, which was much milder and I did not supplement with selenium (I didn’t really have a good reason). After that, my thyroid went hypo and I was on medication for a year and a half. During that time I stopped eating gluten (1 year ago) and try to make sure that I have enough selenium in my diet. So far I have had no problem…

    • Vic says

      Jana, how much selenium you took per day? did you check your mineral/vitamin level by the blood test? what else your homeopath/naturopath advised? Thanks!

  2. Jamie says

    Yes, I had hypothyroid symptoms, that were not ‘bad’ enough to show on blood tests. I took liquid dulse (an iodine containing seaweed) along with selenium. It worked for me. I also have gluten intolerance/celiac.

  3. says

    great write up as usual man! quick question, it’s my current understanding that sardines (whole i.e. bones and all, heads optional) in addition to the o3 fa’s and phospherous and calcium that they’re a pretty great source of highly bioavailable selenium without the brazil nut o6 and antinutrient issues. do you knwo if this is correct. i recall reading this to be true only if you eat skin and all since i believe that’s where the little critters keep most of it. just want to make sure i can keep em as a almost one stop shop for these important elements.

    thanks for your work!

  4. Tanya says

    Supplemental selenium was good for my dog, who was on doggie synthroid (T4 meds) and after fiddling with her dosages with the vet a few times, I still felt she had hypo symptoms. … I’d used it for myself a couple years prior, but I changed a few things at once and I can’t say that I saw specific improvements directly from the selenium, though maybe I’ve helped ward off autoimmune issues.

  5. says

    I am hypothyroid and on T3 only. I recently had a Spectracell blood test which looks at nutrient levels at the cellular level. I was deficient in Selenium and have now started supplementation, 200 mcg a day. I am currently using the Life Extension supplement but the additives and fillers they use really bother me. Why do so many doctors and online sites recommend Life Extension brand when there are equally good brands like Metabolic Maintenance, Pure Encapsulation, etc. that don’t use the fillers and additives?
    It was also interesting to note that despite a good diet and adequate supplementation at a cellular level I was low in several of my anti-oxidants including B12, CoQ10, Selenium, Inositol, and Zinc. They are going in but they weren’t be absorbed. You wouldn’t know that unless you have a Spectracell test done, so I highly recommend it to anyone with thyroid disease.

    • Chris Kresser says

      I frequently use Pure Encapsulations with my sensitive patients, but the expense is prohibitive for many people and unnecessary for those that aren’t bothered by the fillers. I haven’t found an equivalent Pure or Metabolic Maintenance product with the 4 different forms of selenium.

        • Laurissa says

          Chris, Do you have an office? I have normal TSH and T4 but low T3. I have 15 out of the 16 symptoms you mention in your articles. I can’t find a doctor that really treats this or heard me. I live in Dallas. My T3 uptake was 20. Do you have recommendations for doctors in Dallas?

          • Deb says

            Laurissa…I have the same lab results: normal TSH and FT4 but low FT3. You may not know but I wonder why doctors will not treat that especially when symptoms exist.

          • William says

            Laurissa, I go to new leaf health and wellness off McEwen Rd which is by Midway and 635. I have been working with them to optimize my health.

    • Andrea says

      So how are your vitamins absorbing now? Are you doing something special to make them absorb? It’s one thing to know it via the Spectracell test. It’s another to know how to fix it. I have this issue as well. I took EFA’s for over a year, and I did a test that showed I was deficient in EFA’s, and …… Chromium and I was shocked. So now I need to figure out if I am actually absorbing these nutrients. I have always wondered this.

      • Brad says

        bioperine will help just about any vitamin absorb better. But if you are having an absorption problem, you need a detox, spiraling, L-Carnosine etc… for heavy metal

        and a look at what you may have in your mouth (?) or body that is causing the block. For me it is mercury amalgam fillings

        • Brad says

          bioperine will help just about any vitamin absorb better. But if you are having an absorption problem, you need a detox, spir-u-lina, L-Carnosine etc… for heavy metal

          and a look at what you may have in your mouth (?) or body that is causing the block. For me it is mercury amalgam fillings

    • Jon says

      How do you feel being low on those nutrients at the cellular level? Have you been able to increase absorption since your post?

  6. Karen says

    I am a 68yr old very active woman. Had a total thyroidectomy about 2yrs ago – taking synthroid, following the Paleo Diet but still have some issues with fatigue & occasional increase in appetite wondering if Selenium could help these issues.

    • Galina L. says

      I used to be on Syhthriod before and my blood test was normal but I continued to have symptoms of hypothyroidism(low energt, cold, needed more sleep) till I changed my medicine on the natural dessicated tryroid. The difference was huge, but it took about 6 months to figure out the right dose.

  7. Valtsu says

    This study is quite sad too: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17620655

    “Oral administration of selenium, 200 microg/d, or placebo.

    During an average follow-up of 7.7 years (SD, 2.7), type 2 diabetes developed in 58 selenium recipients and 39 placebo recipients (incidence, 12.6 cases per 1000 person-years vs. 8.4 cases per 1000 person-years, respectively; hazard ratio, 1.55 [95% CI, 1.03 to 2.33]).”

    But yea, maybe we can avoid this if we make sure we get some iodine too and that the selenium isn’t selenomethionine only.

    • Chris Kresser says

      I think Se-methylselenocysteine is probably the best form if you have to choose one. I haven’t seen any evidence that the amount of selenomethionine present in the Super Selenium Complex would be problematic, but I wouldn’t take it in high doses.

    • David says

      I think the form of selenium needs to be tailored to the reason you’re taking it. While selenomethionine is great for the production of the selenoproteins, it seems that methylselenocysteine (MSC) is too far down on the metabolic pathway to contribute to the selenoproteins. However, MSC is non-toxic and converts immediately into methylselenol, which has potent anti-cancer effects. So it seems that for thyroid, selenomethionine (in modest doses) would be the ideal choice, while for cancer, MSC is the right one, and even very large doses can be safely tolerated. I can’t see how MSC could have a beneficial effect on thyroid function since it does not play into the production of selenoproteins.

  8. tess says

    i think that adding selenium to the large dose of Iodoral i was taking has improved my T3 conversion, though i don’t have the “numbers” to prove it. i’ll have to check out the brand you recommend when i need a refill.

    thanks, Chris — it always makes me cringe to see the “DON’T take iodine!” scaremongering, when the word “selenium” isn’t even mentioned….

    • says

      I don’t think it is scaremongering – as someone who’s thyroid responded badly to iodine. I feel the same way. I have Hashimotos and took iodine – probably too much too quickly. My TSH rocketted up, my thyroid enlarged and I started getting hypo symptoms.

      • Andrea says

        I have Hashi’s and took an Iodine/Iodine supplement with selenium. I never had one bad symptoms at dosages of 30mg daily (Although I was urinating quite frequently when I started) … I did the Iodine for 3 months. I stopped only because of all the negative news on here and Dr. K’s site scaring me about Hashi’/Iodine. Anyhow, Does anyone know why some people have such bad effects using the iodine and other don’t with Hashimoto’s?

        This seems to be SO very controversial.

        Is it truly the selenium?

        • Ross says

          Some say the bad reaction some people have to iodine is a detox reaction from the release of Bromine as the Iodine replaces it on the receptor sites. However if your TSH starts going up, the thyroid enlarges and symptoms increase that’s a pretty good reason to stop the high dose iodine.

      • Caroline says

        I too had a horrible reaction to iodine in prenatal vitamins( not pregnant taking them while ttc) I could barely walk, thyroid swollen, and tsh high.

  9. Amy says

    Is there a preferred TYPE of selenium you would recommend, Chris? I noticed in my local health food store, there is yeast-based and non-yeast-based. I don’t have a yeast problem so I bought the yeast-based because Dr. Langer recommends it in his book. Can you give us some guidelines regarding what type of selenium to choose and how to choose it?

    • Chris Kresser says

      Se-Methyl L-Selenocysteine is what is incorporated into proteins in our bodies, so that’s probably preferable. The Super Selenium Complex I linked to in the article has 4 different forms, which may be beneficial.

  10. Shelley says

    Hi Chris,
    Hair loss as a side effect of selenium supplementation caused me to raise an eyebrow. I’ve been hypothyriod for 13 years starting after the birth of my first child and have been on synthriod ever since but with decreasing dosages over the years. I started paleo/PHD last January with much success but definately not an answer to every problem as of yet. In April/May I started supplementing with selenium and iodine as per yours and the PHD recommendations. Within a month I started losing hair. I had medium length thick scraggly/wavy hair and I would lose quite a bit everytime I took a shower and combed it out. This went on for about 5 months. Eventually I ran out of the selenium and didn’t get anymore. I kept up with the iodine though and had added weekly liver, extra pastured egg yolks and a lot more veggies to my diet so figured I didn’t need the extra selenium. Well around Sept/Oct the hair loss stopped almost completely and my hair became a nice ringlet curl instead of the scraggly curl it had been for the last 10 years or so. I have no idea if it was the selenium supplementation that caused the hair loss, or maybe just better micronutrient consumption from real food that stopped the hair loss and caused the change in curls, or maybe its neither and has something to do with hormones as I’m 41 now. But again the mention of too much selenium causing hair loss caught my attention and I thought I’d relay my story. Thanks for all the work and research and time that you put in too all this!

        • Shelley says

          I was only taking the 200mcg of selenium that was recommended. I did start out a little too high on the iodine initially at around 2mg for a week and had some almost hyper thyroid symptoms for a week, but quickly brought the iodine down to 200mcg and never had issues after that. the hair loss didn’t start till after a month or so of being on the combo.( I had started the selenium about 2 weeks before I began the iodine) Again, I’ve been hypothyroid for 13 years and never had the hair loss episode I had for those 5 months or so. I had been eating a pretty clean paleo/PHD since January with plenty of meat, so it couldn’t have been the protein issue either.

          • Shelley says

            Yes, Thank you Mario. I just read the link and i bet it was the bromine detox reaction that was going on as I had a host of those side effects. I thought several of them were probably due to the fact that I started my iodine accidentally at 2mg instead of 200mcg but now i wonder if it was the initial detox reaction. I had heart palpitations, the eyelid twitching, tingling in my fingers and toes and the sides of my face, the mouth sores, and the metallic taste. They all settled down after about two weeks. ( I had taken the 2mg for a good week before i lowered it to the 200mcg) The hair loss started a bit later and lasted about 5 months.(havent lost any appreciable amounts since before the holidays) I was wondering though how long this detoxing can go on for as I actually do still have the strange occasional acne on my chin line, my neck, my back and shoulders and occasionally my arms and thighs. Not exactly sure what “skin cuts” means but I did and still do get these tiny little “scratches” that i have no idea where they come from and seem to stay irritated for a week or more. I developed some tiny cherry angiomas on my chest abdomen and thighs and face at that time as well. I still occasionally get the tingling in my toes fingers and sides of my face. I have been titrating my iodine dose upward very slowly and am currently on only around 2.5 mg of iodine, and get my selenium from two brazil nuts a day and the liver and meats and veggies. So could there still be bromide detoxing going on after after this 9- 10 months of iodine supplementation or should that be about over by now ?

            • Mario Iwakura says

              Shelley,

              From your symptoms, definitely it’s bromide detoxing. Cherry angiomas is associated with bromide poisoning:

              http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11244231

              From what I’ve read, bromide detoxing is a long process, and depends both of your iodine and sodium intake. Some people, at the iodine group on Yahoo, report high bromide excretations for years. And some take up to 200 mg of iodine (specially those with breast cancer)!

              So, it’s seems a good idea to keep slowing increasing iodine. And, if your sodium intake is low, increase your sea salt consumption too. And keep track of your symptoms and monitor your thyroid function with regular blood tests.

            • JoAndy says

              You have symptoms of lyme disease. I too have these problems and are classic symptoms. Thyroid problems are common with lyme patients also. You may want to visit the lymestrategies on yahoo groups website.

            • Jason says

              Shelley, I tend to be skeptical of the notion of “bromide detox”. My experience with selenium was similar to yours, and at the time I was taking it alone, without iodine.

        • Luther says

          Hi Mario and/or Chris,

          What’s your opinion on supplementing selenium/iodine as a means of clearing bromide from the body? I had been on a bromide containing medication Citalopram hydrobromide (Celexa) for many years so I probably am probably full of the stuff. Is there a particular protocol? Do I even want to detox, or will I naturally detoxify over time by eating a nutrient rich diet?

          • Chris Kresser says

            Iodine is the recommended treatment for bromide toxicity. The body will not naturally clear bromide in the vast majority of cases. Start at a low dose (500 mcg) and build up slowly over time, to a therapeutic dose of 25 mg/d. Some take 50 mg or even as much as 200 mg, but I don’t recommend doing that without supervision. Make sure to get at least 200 mcg of selenium a day while you’re taking iodine.

          • Mario Iwakura says

            Luther,

            Chris advices are very wise, as usual. :-) Just want to add two things:

            Brest Cancer Choices page about bromide detox strategies is a very good one:

            http://breastcancerchoices.org/bromidedetoxsymptomsandstrategies.html

            Ingesting enough sodium is vital, since half-life of bromide is associated with sodium ingestion. This is important, because many Paleo/PHD followers that eat a clean diet (even more those following Stephan’s bland diet) do not eat enough salt.

            The following research was done in rats, but since too much people get better with the salt load protocol, I assume the same should applies to us:

            http://www.pmid.us/15717853

  11. Kristen Mullen says

    I am hypothyroid, supposedly with “Wilson’s Thyroid Syndrome”, but regardless, my T4 was not terrible, T3 extremely low, and reverse T3 high. I started supplementing with Selenium at night, Vitamin D in the morning. My energy levels increased, I stopped experiencing heavy afternoon fatigue. Since both supplements started simultaneously for me, I do not know which is accountable; but, do not have the desire to eliminate one to find out…

    • Carolyn says

      Hi Kristen,

      I have Hypothyroid and had a blood test just before Christmas to test for Hashimotos that I won’t find out the results till my medical centre opens up Next year.

      I have heavy afternoon fatigue and I’ve been on Thyroxine for the last 36 days ( I’m on a 90 day trial period)

      I’m keen to give Selenium and Vitamin D a go, so could you please tell me what brand & dosage’s to take as i would like to give your method a go to get rid of this horrible fatigue.
      Kind regards,
      Carolyn

    • Viktor says

      Hi Kristen, can you please update me on your progress. We sound similar. I have low TT3 (below the low end),,,, Call me if you wish: 724-544-1866 Thanks:D

  12. says

    Great article Chris!

    True story about selenium: when the s*** hit the fan in 2008 and I got *really* sick (bedridden for 2 months and had to move back to my home country) I had a list of about 30 really distressing symptoms – everything from angular cheilitis to my body’s thermostat being screwed (alternating between feeling very hot and cold)

    Anyway, one of my symptoms was really awful pain in my thyroid area – alternating between stabbing pain and a feeling of inflammation . I joined a thyroid group and did research – selenium was one thing recommended for thyroid function. Lo and behold, after only a few days of taking selenium, that pain disappeared. Then, I stopped it for a few days and it came back again. I only get it now if I happen to change thyroid meds or doses – it must spark something up. But it always settles back down again pretty quickly.

    The frustrating thing is that I test very very low for all thyroid antibodies and my other tests (TSH, FT3 and FT4) also look “normal” but I definitely had clear symptoms of an autoimmune thyroid problem (thyroid pain and body temp dysregulation). The only indicators apart from symptoms were an ultrasound that showed decreased vascularity and a reflex test called Thyroflex that showed hypothyroidism (that test is the modern equivalent of a physical test docs used to do all the time before thyroid testing came in).

    So, I am a fan of selenium :) I still take it now but never go over 100mcg/day. I also eat brazil nuts a few times a week. I do fine using NOW brand selenium. I am on the T3-only protocol as any T4 medication (synthetic or otherwise) is an absolute disaster – I end up with high Reverse T3 every time. I am hoping that by staying on the Paleo diet, keeping selenium optimal, and fixing my copper:zinc imbalance means I can wean off thyroid meds in around a year – fingers crossed.

    • says

      I should also note that my father was diagnosed with Graves last year so I am fairly confident I *do* have an autoimmune issue going on – I’m just unlucky in that my antibodies appear to be low, so the doctors assume nothing is wrong…that is another huge issue in thyroid treatment – blind reliance on blood tests by medical professionals…ignoring patient symptoms and signs.

    • Chris Kresser says

      Allison: only 70% of people with AITD (autoimmune thyroid disease) test positive for the antibodies. That leaves 30% that don’t. A thyroid ultrasound is another way of detecting autoimmune activity in the thyroid.

      • says

        thanks Chris – haven’t come across that stat before, very interesting. I did know that the blood tests are not always an indicator, so I am comfortable going by symptoms and now family Dx. Do you happen to have a reference for that stat? Any ammunition is very useful. An endo did tell me once that a biopsy is the gold standard to see what’s going on in the tissues. The ultrasound only showed decreased vascularity – assuming that not much actual damage to the thyroid had taken place at that stage.

  13. Kathy says

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for all your work on hypothyroidism! What do you think about eating kelp to get your day’s worth of iodine? How much would I need? My T3 is slightly low and TSH is borderline low. I get mixed reviews, Dr. Ray Peat seems to think it can suppress function in this interview:
    Dr. Ray Peat: 30 years ago, it was found that people in the US were getting about ten times more iodine than they needed. In the mountains of Mexico and in the Andes, and in a few other remote places, iodine deficiency still exists. Kelp and other sources of excess iodine can suppress the thyroid, so they definitely shouldn’t be used to treat hypothyroidism.

  14. Anne says

    My understanding is that selenium and iodine content both depend heavily on the conditions of the soil in which plants grow. For animals, it depends on the levels in the plants they ate. Some more info on this is here.

    The distribution of Se and I in soils vary considerably with geography/geology: some areas are very high and some very low. I’ve also read that the levels in a given patch of soil also tend to decrease over time in conventional agriculture since they are decreased by each harvest and aren’t replenished by conventional fertilizer.

    So the levels of Se and I in a given item of food may differ significantly and unpredictably from what it says in nutrition tables. This is particularly important for people trying to eat locally in areas where the soil is deficient. I realized this after moving to Pittsburgh and getting into local food. Turns out we’re in the “goiter belt”: an area around the great lakes where the soil is very iodine deficient. I pay attention to getting adequate Se and I from supplements since it doesn’t seem to me sufficiently predictable to get it from food.

  15. lenny says

    Selenium deficiency is not thought to be common in healthy adults, but is more likely to be found in those with digestive health issues causing poor absorption of nutrients, such as Crohn’s or celiac disease, or those with serious inflammation due to chronic infection.”

    So if we’re not deficient (i.e. most of us eat our muscle meats), then why is this important(assuming we don’t have hashimoto’s)?

    • Chris Kresser says

      The vast majority of people with thyroid problems also have digestive health issues. T3 hormone is required to activate stomach acid and digestive enzyme production, and to stimulate intestinal motility.

  16. Cate says

    I was recently diagnosed with “mid-range” Hashimoto disease and exceptionally high iodine levels. My doctor also discovered 2 thyroid nodules, performed a biopsy which was negative and did not recommend any treatment at this time. My TSH, T4 and T3 are “normal”. I’m a 64 year old type II diabetic following a gluten-free diet and still can’t lose weight and continue to feel unhealthy most days. Any suggestions for lowering my iodine levels and increasing my energy?

    • says

      Cate, you’re on the right track- definitely check out http://www.thyroidbook.com and look into seeing a functional medicine practitioner (Chris is one;-) The book also addresses insulin issues that are often present with Hashi’s.
      Since Hashi’s is an autoimmune condition, it often leads to or is present with other autoimmune conditions, so it’s super important to get that immune system balanced.

      Also, a lot of Hashi’s/hypothyroid women are having really good results regaining leptin (our master hormone) sensitivity and finally losing weight with Dr. Jack Kruse’s Leptin Rx protocol:
      http://jackkruse.com/my-leptin-prescription/
      http://jackkruse.com/the-leptin-rx-faqs/
      (There are more leptin articles there that I recommend reading for a better understanding).

  17. Trina says

    Here’s an interesting recipe for a pesto to detox mercury . It looks like it might be good for this as well. It’s yummy and it can be used straight out of the freezer.

    Cilantro Chelation Pesto
    4 cloves garlic
    1/3 cup Brazil nuts (selenium)
    1/3 cup sunflower seeds (cysteine)
    1/3 cup pumpkin seeds (zinc, magnesium)
    2 cups packed fresh cilantro
    2/3 cup flax/olive oil
    4 tablespoons lemon juice
    2 tsp dulse powder
    Sea salt to taste

    Process the cilantro and oil in a blender until the coriander is chopped. Add the garlic, nuts and seeds, dulse and lemon juice and mix until the mixture is finely blended into a paste. Add a pinch to sea salt to taste and blend again. Store in dark glass jars if possible. It freezes well, so purchase cilantro in season and fill enough jars to last through the year.

  18. Vizeet says

    I have hashimoto thyroiditis and I am on thyroid harmone therapy. I take one lamb kidney per day which may be giving me approximately 100mcg of selenium. I am off wheat, cow’s milk, pepper, eggs and tomatoes. My thyroid drug was reduced six months back. I hope to see the trend continues.

  19. Lynn says

    Cate – check out stopthethyroidmadness.com for tons of great info on the thyroid. If I were in your shoes, I’d be seeking treatment for sure. Sadly, that often involves hunting for a good doctor, which can be difficult.

  20. says

    I don’t know if you’ve mentioned this book before but I often reference the book: Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? by Datis Kharrazian when I am working with my patients with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease. She talks about selenium but also there is a great section on TH1 vs TH2 immune modulation for patient’s with Hashimoto’s, and various nutrient and herbal protocols to help address the autoantibody piece. I have found this to be really helpful.

    Dr. Julieanne Neal, ND

    • Sophia says

      I am in the process of figuring out what is going on with me and cannot find a doctor that will listen to my symptoms and not look just at my numbers with regards to my thyroid. I’m almost certain that I may have Hashimoto’s but my blood results don’t support that. Can you recommend a doctor in the Northern CA area that specializes in Hashimoto’s and other thyroid issues? I have a large nodule on the right that has been biopsied non cancerous. Please help.

  21. kath says

    Chris,
    In your opinion would a high TSH with normal T3 & T4 be a reason to be cautious with supplemental iodine?

    Thank you for the wonderful knowledge you share, it’s much appreciated!

    • Chris Kresser says

      No, not necessarily. TSH is a much more sensitive indicator of thyroid function than T3 & T4, because it responds to changes at the cellular/metabolic level.

      • gwyn says

        Sorry Chris, but you are dead wrong when you say “TSH is a much more sensitive indicator of thyroid function”. THe. TSH test is a farce For detecTing hypothyroidism!!!! Stopthethyroidmadness.com. Explains why the TSH test Is a joke

        • Chris Kresser says

          I’m well aware of the perspective at Stop the Thyroid Madness, but it’s hardly accurate to say that TSH is a farce. There are many other factors to consider (which I’ve outlined in great detail in my thyroid series http://chriskresser.com/thyroid), but TSH is still a valid and important marker. The problem is when it’s used in isolation and other markers are ignored.

  22. lenny says

    HI Chris,

    I was wondering If i eat eggs, meat, and seafood regularly–which averages to roughly 150 mcg of selenium daily–should I still supplement with selenium? or is that overdoing it? THanks for any input =)

  23. says

    As an integrative Gynecologist, I see many women suffering with sub-clinical and otherwise untreated hypothyroid. By testing more than just TSH (checking free T3 and free T4, reverse T3 and thyroid antibodies) we get a great lab picture to add to my clinical impression from the exam and the symptom survey.
    I recommend selenium rich foods and supplementation when I see elevated antibodies and/or poor conversion of T4 to T3. This helps every time. Too many physicians forget the basic physiology and neglect the roots to so many common imbalances. These tiny (and many other fact-based) corrections yield enormous benefits.
    What are your thoughts on people who have a confusing set of labs (low TSH and Low levels of T3 and T4)? Have you read of pituitary gland dysfunction or over-function making the TSH less relevant?

    I appreciate the excellent research and writing you do here on this website.

    • Erin says

      Steven,
      I’m quite curious about your question “What are your thoughts on people who have a confusing set of labs (low TSH and Low levels of T3 and T4)? Have you read of pituitary gland dysfunction or over-function making the TSH less relevant?”

      Have you ever received a satisfactory answer?

      I inquire because that is the result I had on my very first thyroid labs done over a year ago. I was VERY hypo–for years–in terms of symptoms, but because TSH was low and T3/T4 were “low normal” my complaints were always dismissed. I began Natural Desiccated Thyroid supplementation thanks to an open-minded doc who didn’t care what my TSH was. Now I have full blown Hashi’s with very low TSH, higher T3 and very hig Reverse T3 levels that are 2x the top of the range! Started T3-only therapy in attempt to fix this.

      Anyhow, would love to know if you ever found the answer to your question, as it may help me. Thanks!

  24. says

    What do you think of selenium supplementation with Graves disease? The only research I could dig up stated it was beneficial in treating orbitopathy in patients with Graves. Is there any research that suggests it can aid in proper thyroid function in hyperthyroid patients?

  25. says

    pHow long does hypothyroidism take to fesimant?br /Twice I have tested low on my TSH levels, the later test involving both T3 and T4. My doctor now sent me a prescription for synthroid a few days ago that I have yet to fill. The only reason I even had my thyroid checked in the beginning was because of some infection they thought my toe had that really wasn’t that bad and the antibiotics ended up making me feel worse because they were too strong, which is a whole nother story. I’ve had a few CBCs, but I guess that doesn’t indicate thyroid function because they never told me anything./ppI know what the symptoms are for hypothyroidism, but I don’t have any of them. I mean, yeah I’m sleepy or drowsy when I get less than 7-8 hrs sleep and I do have iron deficiency anemia which could be the cause of that. I get hot or cold when it is truly hot or cold and everyone else feels it. My hair and nails continue to grow without abandon and my skin is not pale (I’m tan) or flaky, although it may be dry from time to time because I have had eczema all my life./ppSo if I actually did have hypthyroidism would I know it right off or would it take some time? If anything, I would have HYPERthyroidism as I only weigh around 125-130 lbs and 5’7 . I’m freakin skinny! In the meantime I’m taking an herbal supplement my mom already had in the cabinet that is kelp and alfalfa that has 100% DV iodine. IDK how much good that’ll do since I don’t feel symptoms anyway./p

    • Brandi says

      Just because your skinny does not mean that you are Hyper. I have been Hypo for over 13 years and have always had a problem with weight gain. I now have Hoshi and still have the a problem with keeping weight on.
      So just fyi. Being skinny does not necessarily mean Hyper. But in my experience it does not help with finding a good doctor that listens to you cause most look at you and see that your skinny and therefore think you are crazy as you sit there and state all of your Hypo symptoms.
      Good Luck :)

  26. Sam says

    I have been able to substantially shrink my enlarged thyroid by supplementing with at least 10,000 IU of Vitamin D and 400 mcg of Selenium daily. I also take a multi-vitamin twice a day and a combination calcium/magnesium/zinc tablet. Thanks to the brilliant Dr. Mack Harrell in Ft. Lauderdale for making the Vitamin D deficiency diagnosis–the shrinking was nearly immediate . . . everyone else told me I had cancer and wanted to do surgery, even though I had consistently normal thyroid levels and no Hashimoto’s antibodies in my blood.

  27. Linda B says

    Hello,

    I agree with everything I have read from you. Hoping you might be able to help with a question.

    Info: Female 41, hashy diagnoses in 11/11. Anti body level in 400′s. 3 grain of Amour a day. Selenium 200, coconut water & oil. Vit C 5000 a day, B12 4000 a day, B complex (just started). Gluten free for 1 month now.

    I am having a very hard time with menstruation. Week before and week of ; I slow down, joint pain, anxiety, Very loud tinnitus, lethargy, and swelling. The week after I slowly get better , by Thurs Im ok.

    Can you please suggest anything that may help this? Would getting on birth control and skipping all of ovulation help? I generally have a “hard time” with birth control but would gladly take it to forgo the other horrible Hashy symptoms.

    I so hope you are able to respond and thank you for your time,
    Linda B.

    • Celine Defaso says

      Hi Linda : very loud tinnitus, lethargy, AND during the menstruation>> Have you had your iron levels checked ? low iron levels ( not necesarely anemia) could be your issue. I was myself told I was fine because my iron levels were within “normal” ranges even though they were ridiculously low (30)!!. I decided to supplement with iron and feel WAYYY much better now.

  28. Jessica says

    I have hashimoto’s after a recent decline in my health I went gluten free (largely based on info from your site) and after only 2 months all of my symptoms have been alleviated and my TPO antibodies have dropped from 944 to 631, so thank you for that.
    My question is regarding selenium, on the advice of my neurologist I started supplementing with selenium 200 mcg/ day about 4 months ago. I had my GP do a test for my selenium levels just recently and they are at 320 mcg/ L which he says is high and so I have stopped the selenium. I am wondering what the target range is for Selenium levels, he didn’t know the answer so I have been trying to research it but I’m not getting anywhere so far.
    Thank you,
    Jessica

  29. caroline says

    Bonjour ! so, may i know the tendency of selenium to the iodine deficiency are more to give advantages or disadvantages?? hope to get the reply as soon as possible since i have to do presentation about risk factors of iodine this coming Monday. Thank you =)

    • says

      Y’all, get your selenium the EASY way, one Brazil nut a day! I personally hate them, so I throw them in my smoothie. Super easy and simple and you get your 200mcg in!

  30. Samantha says

    Chris, love your site. I’ve learned a lot from your site.

    I was dx with hashi about a year ago with very high antibodies >2500, My dr did 3 tests and the last test, my tsh, t3 and t4 were all normal. He did not retest for antibodies. During the day, I feel fine with generally no symptoms. However at night, I cannot sleep through and wake up drenched with sweats. This has been happening for a year. I’ve tried Armour and Iodine and neither helped. I take 100mcg Selenium daily, B complex, 400 mg magnesium, 4000 iu Vit D, 1 astaxanthin. I wonder if I’m in hyper mode right now. What can I do to stop the night sweats and thyroid burn out?

  31. Rene says

    “Has anyone had any experience with selenium supplementation? Was it a positive or negative experience? Let me know in the comments below.”
    Hi, I’ve been diagnosed with hashimotos and yes I have tried supplementing with selenium but my experience was definitely negative.The side effects I experienced were a sudden drop in my energy levels the next day accompanied with brain fog and a mood swing of feeling depressed. Although I’m not sure whether if it was due to the selenium itself or the brewers yeast that the supplement contained.Since I also suspect having a leaky gut and ppl with LGS can also be sensitive to brewers yeast. I’ve now resorted to brown rice as a natural source of selenium and haven’t seen any negative effects there has also been an improvement in my hair growth since I’ve been eating it.
    You mentioned brazil nut as a good source of selenium , should the nuts be soaked before using? I’ve read nuts contain lots of phytic acid with prevents minerals like zinc(that is very essential for the thyroid gland) from being absorbed.

  32. Elizabeth says

    First, I love your site. It’s the only source of information that actually makes any sense and speaks to my issues. That being said, I have a few questions. Would it ever make sense to take both synthroid and naturethroid? I’ve tried each in isolation, and felt much better on nature throid, but the doctor put me on synthroid anyway. I felt worse on that, so went back to nature throid, but am worried I might be missing something by not taking synthroid. I supplement with selenium, iodine (occasionally, via supplements and seaweed), vitamine D, magnesium, digestive enzymes, probiotics, and cod liver capsules (occasionally). Before taking either synthroid or nature throid, my free t3 was 1.7, tsh 1.33, ferritin 27, free t4 .82. After 3 months on nature throid, I had t3 of 76, tsh of 1.08, t4 of .84. A month later, free t3 of 2.7, t3 of 90, tsh of 1.37, and free t4 of .79. After 6 weeks of synthroid (and no naturethroid), I had tpo Ab of 12, t4 of 6.3, dhea-sulfate of 134.1, t3 of 51, tsh of .765, transferrin of 180, iron of 131, and free t4 of 1.13. So, I think the synthroid (and supplements) were working in terms of free t4, if that’s possible, but obviously not in terms of t3. Do I need both? If I can only have one (i.e., t4 via synthroid or t3 via nature throid), which is better/advisable? Overall, in response to your question, I can’t tell if supplementation helps, but I also don’t know if that’s mediated by the fact that I was switching from nature throid to synthroid. Either way, I’m going to continue supplementing because I don’t feel worse doing so. Is that a good approach?

    I should add that I eat fairly strict paleo, and avoid gluten, soy, and dairy.

  33. Hancy says

    Hey Chris. What if you don’t tolerate grains well. The selenium you recommend has rice flour in it. Any other good brands out there?

  34. says

    The Hashimoto’s of a person close to me stopped showing up in medical tests after I started him on a low-carb diet. He eats eggs every day now.

  35. fredrick says

    Hi Chris,i have alway thought that i have an issue with my thyroid.Went for test .T3 0.53,T4 6.03 and TSH 1.406,is my thyroid fine

  36. Ro Privett says

    Howdy Chris, how are you?

    Thanks so much for your informative website – much appreciated!
    Is it possible to grab a quick moment of your time?!?! I’d greatly appreciate it!
    (sorry if Ive posted this comment in the wrong section but the blood sugar section forum was closed)

    After being diagnosed with hypothyroidism (hashimotos) & adrenal fatigue (over a year ago) & more recently leaky gut, my treatment has been the following (amongst other things): medicating on T3/HC (after reducing RT3) & other supps, Leaky gut diet & measuring my body temps & blood glucose recently…..been feeling much better!

    I suspect that I have insulin resistance (T3 pooling) due to many reasons including: my FT3 is slightly over range yet my body temperatures are still lowish (36.7 degrees not 37), lowish pulse (60 odd), high glucose in fasting & pre prandial tests, crave sugar/ sleepy after meal etc. Can I have your advice on how to treat insulin resistance? any tests? Specific nutrients? Exercise?

    Id greatly appreciate it!

    Thanks for your time & I look forward to your response!

    Ro :-)

    • Erin says

      Hi Ro,
      Sorry, it’s not Chris answering your question…but I do have a question for you, if you don’t mind!
      You mention you corrected some of your issues by supplementing with T3/HC (i assume HC means cortisone?). I also have Hashi’s with current swelling of my thyroid, and have VERY high RT3 levels, like off the charts. Been on Natural Desiccated Thyroid and was doing ok on it until this sudden attack. Doc told me to get off all T4 containing meds ASAP and go on T3 only…he did NOT give me specific guidelines on how to dose the T3 though, so I am operating blindly on my own.
      Curious if you could share how you used T3 to fix your RT3 levels?? Thanks!

      BTW, per your question about insulin resistance, that is directly related to the inflammation from your leaky gut and who knows what else (have you been tested for Lyme, heavy metals like mercury, and other viral agents? That often perpetuates inflammation in the body). For inflammation I use an amazing supplement called Anatabloc. Check it out, may help you!

      Erin

      • Abigail says

        Erin, I have hashimotos and I am on synthroid. my thyroid levels are ‘normal’ but I feel worse after starting the medicine in January. I am desperate to get on desiccated thyroid and cant find a natural doctor to help me. my endo said the T3 is fine so I Dont need it. would you recommend natural thyroid medicine? im only 18, and more then desperate to get my life back! do you have any advice for me? ,thank you!

        • Thomas says

          The cure for you would be: selenium and iodine at the same time.
          Read this whole article right to the end. You’ll learn that selenium and iodine combined are absolutely essential together. Taking selenium alone or iodine alone will make you very sick. Taking both at the same time will cure you of all thyroid related diseases. You might need vitamin C, vitamin B2 and B3 if your symporters are broken (a symporter is the mechanism that absorbs and concentrates iodine the cell).
          http://www.greenwillowtree.com/page.bok?file=selenium.iodine.html

  37. Ashley says

    Is 200mcg of selenium and vitamin e safe to take if you are trying to conceive? Would it be safe to take during pregnancy?

  38. Caroline says

    Could you have poor absorption while taking Metformin. I take both synthyroid and Metformin for hypo and pcos. I know Metformin inhibits absorption of some fat and sugar but what about nutrients

  39. Becky says

    Hi! Great information! I had a full hysterectomy 5 years ago and have been taking bio-identical hormones for the last 1.5 years. My pharmacist is in the process of eliminating all estrogen from my hormones and also from my diet. I do eat very clean and exercise regularly. I struggle with losing weight. Cannot budge a pound. My doctor mentioned that it could be my thyroid, and even though my levels may show normal it could still be presenting the problem. I am tired alot, and also have foggy brain. I was told that taking selenium and iodine may help reduce these problems. If that is the case, how much should I take daily and how long before I know that is helping or not???

  40. Eileen Wray says

    I started taking synthroid 25 mg and then upped by my doc to 50 over a 5 month period. I have Hashimotos. he always recommend high dose D, and I am taking that but then he recommended Selenium OTC and a week after starting it, I started havign severe headaches, and neck and joint pain.
    My stomach was upset too. and several other negative side effects mentioned in articles about Selenium pills (not the stuff found in foods). I stopped taking the Selenium and called my endocrinologist !!!! I eat all the right foods for taking in Selenium, and will never take Selenium again!

  41. Abigail says

    I have thyroid antibodies for hypo at 161. I read a blog about selenium and have been taking it. I am extremely worried now because I have taken about 17,000 mcg within 2 weeks. Then I read about it being bad for thyrid if you arelow in iodine. I think I have taken way too much because I’m desperate to feel better! Pleaseeee help me. What do I do? Not take any for a few days and only take one a day from now on?? Please help. I really appreciate it!

    • Chris Kresser says

      Selenium can be toxic at high doses. Please do not exceed 200 mcg per day in the supplemental form. I would stop for at least a couple of weeks before continuing. Iodine can be problematic for people with Hashimoto’s if they are selenium deficient and/or they take too high of a dose too quickly. I would get back on selenium for a few weeks before attempting to take iodine, and if you do take iodine, start with a very small dose (i.e. 200 mcg) and build up very slowly.

  42. Julia says

    I have a tsh at .03 everything else is normal range, dx of discoid subacute contanieous lupus, ana tested under 1000, sx include racing heart, lethargy, weight gain, brain fog to name a few.

    • Ross says

      Julia,
      You could be hyperthyroid or be in a hyper phase of Hasimoto’s. Did you and have your thyroid antidoies tested for TPO, TGB and TSI? They will help you determine if you have hyperthyroidism, or are in a hyper phase of Hasimoto’s thyroiditis.

  43. Wendy says

    I have been eating one Brazil nut per day. Never diagnosed with low thyroid, but my mom has it and I have been very low on energy, low tolerance to cold, thinning hair. I bet it is border line. Ever since I have been eating this high selenium rich food, I have noticed my energy levels and body warming levels are UP! My mom swears by it too…no meds for either of us. Dont eat more than one or two nuts a day, you can overdose on selenium.

  44. Heather Switzer says

    My question is this: what should be done to reverse (potential) selenium toxicity? I am not sure, but I *think* eating too many brazil nuts (I guess around 4-8 daily) might explain my alarming hair loss (handfuls after each shower, lots on the pillow in the morning). I have been losing hair for about a year, but recently it starting coming out in handfuls, and fairly recently I have discovered I like brazil nuts (last 5 months or so?). My thyroid reads normal (talked to neuro, ob/byn and dermatologist–all clueless). I normally take Rebif for relapsing remitting MS (although I have been off rebif for about 4.5 mos)–neuro says it’s not rebif. I recently (1.5 mos ago) suffered a miscarriage–ob/gyn & dermo say that this could cause rapid hair shedding, but my hair has been falling out long before I was pregnant. No one has asked me about selenium supplementation or eating brazil nuts–came to that on my own (I am a big fan of your site Chris and about 90% paleo most of the time). Let’s say it is the brazil nuts. If I stop eating them (well, when, as in right now!) will my hair loss subside/grow back? Anything is particular I should be doing along with stopping the nuts? Thanks!!

    • Chris Kresser says

      You might want to contact Paul Jaminet about this. He knows more than I do about overcoming selenosis.

    • Allison says

      It may also be a coincidence that the hair loss is increasing with brazil nut consumption. Don’t discount nutrient deficiencies like biotin, Bs and trace minerals like silica.

      Also thyroid conditions are well known to cause hair loss – there is no such thing as “normal” when it comes to thyroid results. It’s likely the doctor only checked TSH which is pretty much useless in isolation. I suggest finding a functional medical practitioner who will order the right thyroid tests and knows how to interpret them!

      Good luck :)

  45. Karina says

    Hi Chris,

    In this article, you mentioned that “For those concerned with the high level of omega-6 fats in brazil nuts, it may be worth considering the fact that it only takes one or two brazil nuts per day to improve your selenium status and boost immune function.” As a result, I encouraged each of my family members to eat ONE brazil nut/day as a way to support their thyroid health. Today in your Beyond Paleo series, you said, “Selenium is plentiful in organ meats, ocean fish, and in brazil nuts. One brazil nut contains 100 mcg of selenium, but it also contains a whopping 1 g of omega-6 linoleic acid, which as you know from previous articles in the series, we want to limit significantly. This is why I don’t recommend brazil nuts as a source of selenium. Ocean fish are also good sources of selenium. 100 g of cod contains about 150 mcg.”

    This statement says you DON’T recommend brazil nuts as a source of selenium.

    Has your stance changed? Should we not be consuming even one/day?

    I have a friend who is hypothyroid. Should he be consuming them as well?

    Please help!!! I respect your opinion and advice and am in need of some clarification.

    • Chris Kresser says

      My stance on omega-6 in whole foods like nuts has changed somewhat. I don’t think a single brazil nut a day is problematic. That said, ocean fish is a superior source.

  46. Karina says

    Thanks for the response. Do you feel the same way for someone who already is hypothyroid and has a history of heart disease??? He, too, is eating one Brazil nut/day and wants to know if this is problematic for someone like him…

  47. Stacy says

    Hi- very good info here, I have a goiter and Hashi’s. My doc said all was ok, she would not treat with anything at this point. My main struggle is sleeeeeep!! I am a very easy going person but have terrible panic attacks and rapid heart beats mostly just at night and very poor sleep. I recently cut out gluten, but it seemed to make my symptoms worse? I have taken iodine (big mistake) and suffer for days until it gets out of my system. Will check into a naturopath this week, any thoughts?

  48. Abigail says

    If I take 200mcg a day, how long will it take to build up in my system? will it take months or what? and also, if I take it for about a month straight then take off for a few days, will that be okay? will it still build up?

  49. Erika says

    Thanks for the article. Selenium supplementation had been good and bad for me. I have been fighting with very low energy and mental sluggishness for the past 1.5 years. My TSH is in the *normal* range (3.8) but I finally found out that my antibodies are too high (TPO 267). I started Selenium 200 mcg per day and immediately felt great. My energy levels are pretty much optimal now and the brain fog has lifted completely. I am very happy with the way I feel. My problem is though that we’re trying to get pregnant and the selenium seems to have a negative impact on my menstrual cycle. It shortened my luteal phase from 12 days to 9 days, delayed my ovulation from day 15 to day 20, decreased my basal body temperature from 97.1 – 97.3 (pre-Ovulation) to 96.7-96.1 degree. I also seem to gain weight (despite eating healthy and doubling my exercise thanks to the new energy boost). Any insight in why that might happen? Does selenium affect progesterone and estrogen levels? Thanks.

  50. Erika says

    Thanks for the article. Selenium supplementation had some unexpected effects for me. I have been fighting with very low energy and mental sluggishness for the past 1.5 years. My TSH is in the *normal* range (3.8) but I finally found out that my antibodies are too high (TPO 267). I started Selenium 200 mcg per day and immediately felt great. My energy levels are pretty much optimal now and the brain fog has lifted completely. I have been on it for 4 weeks and am very happy with the way I feel. My only problem is that we’re trying to get pregnant and the selenium seems to have a negative impact on my menstrual cycle. It shortened my luteal phase from 12 days to 9 days, delayed my ovulation from day 15 to day 20, decreased my basal body temperature from 97.1 – 97.3 (pre-Ovulation) to an 96.7-96.1 degree. I also seem to gain weight (despite eating healthy and doubling my exercise thanks to the new energy boost). Does selenium affect progesterone and estrogen levels? Thanks.

  51. Catherine says

    Great info, thank you. I’m 5 months postnatal with significantly elevated TSH and enlarged thyroid. Is selenium and or iodine supplementation a good idea (am breastfeeding) or should I just let things settle (as I’ve been advised)? I’m receiving conflicting information. Have never taken either before (just thyroid meds) as my Hashimotos usually very stable.

  52. Kaye says

    I have recently been diagnosed w Hashimotos .. Numbers showed in the 800′s so it la high but the doctor as she has seen higher and mine may be a result of childbirth and should correct itself. I have bone/muscle pain and fatigue and coldness. I have decided to take a thyroid helper along w daily energy multiple vitamin. I have yet to try iosol iodine drops. Am I on the right track w this? Since I have taken the two minus the iosol drops my brain fog is lessened tremendously and I don’t ache as bad.

  53. Darcy says

    Dear Chris. I am 26 years old and have an 8 month old baby. My thyroid completly crashed after his birth and it took doctors 6 month to figure out my t4 was at 5 and my tsh was so high it did not register on the chart. I was experiencing kidney pain, swelling in the throat,horrible body pain, hair loss, major digestion problems,bleeding, memory loss, and extreme fog brain. I am only on synthroid .125 and slowly am on the mend. They recently ran the hashimotos test and i am positive. I still feel as though i am going from hypo to hyper depending on my cycle. It is very hard and i am at my wits end. Any help from anyone is appreciated.

  54. Carol says

    I have been hypothyroid for about 18 years. For years I was on Synthroid, then Levoxyl. I’ve been on Armour for a few years. A year ago I felt like I crashed- no energy, no appetite, overwhelming fatigue, etc. My naturopath put me on additional T3, increasing it every few weeks. Two months later I felt like a new woman, so I maintained the 90mcg of T3 with my one grain of Armour. Then I had a Rbc elements test that showed I was low in selenium and iron. I started taking 200mcg of selenium right away, and after further testing I added iron. Although this is not necessarily related to my thyroid, I have had warts in my hands for several years and I have tried practically everything to get rid of them. I was still getting new ones, and I had so many already. After a couple of weeks on the selenium, the warts just started disappearing. It did take six months for the last one to go away, but they are all gone.
    I was taking my temperature every day before I started the selenium, and after adding the selenium my morning temp went up almost every day until it was a degree higher than before, and then it leveled off about 3/10 of a degree lower than the hi point.
    Also, I had my TSH, T4, T3, Reverse T3 checked in July and the results showed I was not converting any T4 to T3. We did the tests again in December, and there was great improvement and we are lowering my added T3. It appears that the improvement in my thyroid levels is due to the selenium, and possibly the iron as well, since those are the main changes I made during that time. Best of all, I feel better now than I have in a long time. I sleep better, and I feel as though my sex hormones are balancing out even though I haven’t supplemented hormones.

    • Amy says

      Iron is a required co-factor. If you don’t have enough iron in your blood, your thyroid medication can’t work effectively. However, do not take iron within 4 hrs of oral thyroid meds.
      I take my T-3 sublingually, which means I can take iron at the same time. Different pathways.
      Also, be careful of the type of iron you take.

  55. Jay says

    My daughter has a heterogenous thyroid, and her antibodies were highs few years ago, but since then have been normal. She also has a gluten intolerance.Doctors say to keep an eye on things and that she has potential to develop Hashimotos.
    She is living near a nuclear plant located (within 5 miles.) I worry about any excess radiation from plant. Should she be supplementing with iodine and selenium, or just selenium?

  56. Deb says

    Fantastic article…thanks Dr. Kresser…wish I had seen it when it first come out!! I recently started eating several Brazil nuts a day and am feeling so much better. I have come a long way in healing my thyroid by changing my diet over the last 5 years in accordance with the Weston Price Foundation. Most of my symptoms have gone away but still struggle with low energy and a little brain fog (neither as bad as before). I am so excited to be feeling so well these days; before the Brazil nuts I felt that I had hit the ceiling and could not get any better since I had implemented everything I knew to do. The number of Brazil nuts I eat has varied from 4 to 8…dont’ really know how much I should eat while trying to make up for my deficiency. Can anyone tell me how many I should eat daily and how long will it take before I change to eating just 2 per day as a maintenance level. Also, I don’t want to mess up a good thing…so now, I don’t know if I should add a little kelp for iodine to my kefir smoothies or just continue eating Brazil nuts daily. I appreciate any help in this matter!!

    BTW, my last thyroid results: TSH—- 0.85 (0.34 – 4.82 reference range)
    FT4—- 0.75 (0.77 – 1.61 reference range)

  57. Jamie says

    OMG! I just stumbled upon your site. I was recently diagnosed with hypo/hasimotos. My TPO was 118 but TSH 2.68. They put me on 75 mcg of synthroid and than tested 3 weeks later and I went to .263 and adjusted synthroid to 50 mcg and went to .069. I feel horrible at this number.I am competitve runner who use to run 8-12 miles a day and now have a had time managing 3-6 miles. I have got off the synthroid while waiting to see a respected Endo but wondering how I could go so low so quickly and maybe I didn’t need the synthroid and just need to address the TPO.

  58. Erin says

    Dr Kresser,
    I have had some success with adding Selenium to my daily supplement regimen. I’m hypothyroid, recently diagnosed with Hashimoto’s (thanks to websites like yours).
    While selenium INITALLY caused incredibly positive change ( lost 5 lbs easily), it suddenly wore off, and I had a bad autoimmune flare up–including sudden swelling of the thyroid/throat– AFTER trying to implement the paleo protocol that you and some others advocate.
    I even purchased your diet protocol. I had previously found some success with a 90% raw food vegetarian diet and juicing.
    Any idea why someone would be totally unable to process meats and animal fats? Same with coconut. My body blows up immediately.
    I have been strictly gluten free and dairy free for years, have cut out all grains, eggs, nightshades and soy. Still cannot tolerate meat, poultry or coconut or nuts unless soaked. Digestive enzymes don’t help much.
    I cannot find any references to such a dilemma on your website. Do some folks have an inflammatory reaction or intolerance to dense proteins/fats?
    Thank you!

  59. Clare says

    I was taking 200mcg daily until diagnosed with basl cell carcinoma, a small skin cancer. Apparently, there is a link between some forms of skin cancer…for those at high risk of getting it…and selenium supplementation. I have Hasimotos, and am sick and tired of all the conflicting info about supplements (iodine, selenium, amount of D3, etc.) and what foods we can eat (broccoli/goitenus veggies, cooked vs uncooked, fermented soy is/is not ok, barley, corn, turkey, spinach, arugula, etc.

    Why isn’t there one source of info backed by research…double blind studies? So many people needthis information?

  60. Jaya says

    Hi
    Thanks for all the information it is really helpful. I have some questions in regards to HT and multinodular goiters on my thyroid that are benign. I was diagnosed with it last month and my endocrinologist wants me to just wait and watch till it gets inactive, as per her discussion my TSH,T3 AND T4 levels are all working fine, should I ask her for more specific numbers of all those hormones? . I was wondering if taking Selenium would affect the function of normal thyroid hormones while decreasing the antibodies? or will it trigger it to become more hypo? Also is it safe to get pregnant now or wait till I get my thyroid surgically removed? Please help me any time and concern into this matter will be helpful and appreciated..
    Thanks

  61. Leona says

    OK, wow. I have read every section on here and realize I am in this boat and it may be too late for my thyroid. My thyroid might be dead, and no longer producing anything….but maybe not? Yikes. Diagnosed 21 years ago, and have been on meds (synthroid) and now Cytomel for 21 years. I thought I was gluten intolerant so have been easing up on gluten, and now I find these articles. I wonder why NO dr has told me this over 21 years. I asked to see and endocrinologist 2 years ago….he said I was taking enough Synthroid for an elephant. Well then. WHY then, do I not FEEL hyper-Thyroid? They wanted to reduce, and they are constantly checking my blood levels and they do not feel comfortable on the dose that I am on. I have NO hyper-thyroid symptoms, and if anything, was hoping for an increase so I wasn’t as tired in the mornings after 8 hours sleep! I am on 250 mcg (divided into morning and night) of Synthroid and on my asking, I am also on 10 mcg cytomel (divided into morning and night). I get tested for TSH (non existent now) and Free T3 and Free T4 which are indicating on the “hyper” side but just slightly now. I do not know who else to see here (BC Canada) in order to be actually heard, and taken care of. When I went to the Endocrinologist, I told him I want to know how the Hashimoto’s is effecting the rest of me…and what I should do. He had no time for me and his letter to my family dr was, her dose needs to be reduced. They are worried about me having opposite effect of my condition, and it turning into Graves and osteoporosis. When I was diagnosed with Hashimoto, it was prior to the birth of my son, and my levels went out of whack after he was born. I am interested in now trying Selenium, and D3 (I was taking D3 on and off), and going gluten free completely. Do you have anybody you can refer me to in BC canada? One year I tried to get off synthetic Synthroid and tried desiccated Thyroid. My symptoms took a nose dive so I went back to synthetic. Is it too late for me after 21 years of synthetic replacements, and is it possible my thyroid has stopped functioning all together? Why is my blood work changing, (appearing hyper over previously “within range”) with no change in dosage? Is it possible going gluten free has had some effect on this for absorption? I told my Dr’s that I felt with the high dose that I wasn’t assimilating the meds, buy they shrugged their shoulders. :( help!

  62. Leona says

    My post doesn’t seem to be showing….
    I will try again later if there is an issue. I also wanted to say…..THANK YOU, for caring to post this information. I finally feel like maybe there is some hope to find positive changes for my health. :)

  63. Anne says

    I have hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue. Diet changes helped but not that much. I started taking a Selenium supplement 3 months ago and now it doesn’t matter much what I eat, the symptoms have faded almost completely. I’m amazed.

    Wish I’d known about the connection years ago!

  64. Ria says

    Hi,
    I have started taking multivitamins and supplements. I have hashimotos since past 15 yrs. I am 31. Recently I came to know that the thyroid defeciency is actually hashimotos when I tested my thyroid enzymes.
    Last 2 months I have started taking supplements from Nutrilite…which includes multivitamins, selenium+ vitamin E, Salmon omega3, calcium + vit.D, coQ10.
    yesterday I checked my TSH level, and doctor asked me to reduce my eltroxin tab. from 100mcg to 75mcg.
    So I dont know which supplement caused increase in available thyroid hormones in blood.
    But nevertheless m feeling gr8 and want to continue with the cocktail. :)

  65. Theo says

    I am not a fan of supplements that only provide the alpha-tocopherol form of vitamin E. It’s safer and more effective to ingest the entire family of tocopherols and tocotrienols. Too much alpha-tocopherol, for example, displaces gamma-tocopherol from the cell membrane; each one protects against a different type of radical. This likely explains why mega-dosing on a single form of vitamin E increases the risk of cancer.

  66. Deb says

    I have Hashi and was having trouble conceiving so my endo said to take 200 mcg to help with thyroid function. My antibodies were “off the charts” and after a year it brought them down significantly. They are still high and it is an issue b/c I can’t conceive without IVF and I’ve had one miscarriage- possibly antibody related. However, both my endo and fertility dr. agree I should stay on selenium until I am past conception age. I’ve been on it for 8 years with no new issues. (Hair loss began with Hashi and is cyclical for me)

  67. Ann says

    I am a 64 year old woman that has had health issues all her life. I am tired of the medical doctors and have tried to find info on the internet as to why I am feeling the way I am. I linked up to your website after putting in some of my symptons and coming up with Hypothyrodism. It makes perfect sense to me giving the symptoms I am having. I am experiencing a tremendous itching on my body but mostly on my head. I am having sweats like no other and I can’t quite from falling alsleep every time I sit down or stop moving for a while. I am desperate to find help and I don’t know what step I need to take next. Anything would suggest would give me some emotional relief. Thanks Ann

  68. Andrew says

    Iodine is part of the halide group on the periodic chart. The halide group includes Fluorine, Chlorine, Bromine, Iodine, Slowly and deliberately, over the last century iodine has been removed from our diet while, Chlorine (including chloramines), Flourine (including flouride), Bromine (including bleached bromated wheat flour and fire retardants in all foam pillows, including the ones in your car) have become more pervasive. Iodine is a necessary element for proper functioning of the Thyroid If your body does not have access to iodine the receptors in your body will look to the other elements in the group to fill the void. The other three especially bromine and fluorine are not part of an healthy diet.

    Please click the link below and do your own research! Also, for those familiar with Dr Gerson, he was an advocate of increased iodine consumption to battle cancer. He testified before congress in 1946 and spoke about iodine. http://www.cih.nusystem.org/assets/resources/pageResources/ithrive-019.pdf

  69. caren says

    I have had hypothyroid for 20 years and never took any meds.. I was diagnosed with Hashimotos 1 year ago and I started taking thyroid hormone that I go from the Gerson institute.. then just 1 month ago I decided I did not want to take the homone anymore because I want my thyroid to start working on it’s own.. I am gluten free, no dairy, no eggs, no soy.. lots of veges.. not much fruit.. I do not have money to pay for tests.. I am on selenium and eat lots of seaweeds.. I would appreciate any advice I could get.. I think I am feeling better and healing naturally but some days I am exhauseted although the last few days I have been sleeping like a baby, and it helps if I get in bed before 10pm..

    • says

      Hi Caren, since you were only on thyroid supplement for a year, there is a good chance your thyroid can still function on its own. Just selenium and seaweed will not correct your thyroid function naturally. In fact, too much of either of those will just make it worse. The thyroid gland needs the right balance of nutrients to function correctly. It can be corrected over time naturally with the right foods. If you would like to learn more, you can sign up for one of my free web clinics at http://www.anymeeting.com/PIID=EA52DE81804B31

  70. Julia says

    I have NO thyroid-they took mine. Now I take thyroid meds .375. Have all symptoms of thyroid (hypo)
    and severe gluten intolerance, and many auto-immune conditions. Can anything help?

  71. Venessa says

    Hi!
    I have had some great success with supplementing with Selenium Plus (Sisu brand) and am very excited by the positive changes that I’ve been experiencing over the last few weeks. I am however concerned about the side effects that you listed from long term use. Should this be something that I do only on occasion? Or just note if I’m feeling any of those symptoms and decrease my dose or take it only every other day? I’d like to think that I can get what I need just from foods, but I’m still working on that successful transition to following a strict paleo diet. Not far off, but not 100% solid yet… Many thanks.

  72. Joni says

    Everyone is different. Animals on the same pasture-some get selenosis, some do not. What works for one person may not work for another.
    My thyroid gland went “warp-speed” after birth of my son, then went “kaput”. Synthoid for 2 years=useless. Armour 180 for 14 years=great, until I started some potassium iodide solution, 5 drops in water. I think about 125mcg. Eventually went hyperthyroid. Now on lower dose (130) Naturthroid. Perfect numbers on blood work. I do not feel hypo. Started selenium 100mcg (countrylife selenomethionine) for skin ailments (also low dose biotin-fairly harmless) Within 3 weeks, eyebrows fell out, 20% hair loss, numbness in extremities, nausea, weakness, palm rash, nails chipping. Figured it out and quit after 7 weeks on Selenium. 2 weeks since ceasing that dose, and I still have nausea, weakness, stiff/sore, new hair loss, some regrowth. No treatment in Merck except avoidance of Selenium. I am going to try homeopathic selenium for these symptoms, I will post after dosing.
    Bottom line: Start VERY slowly, very small doses, write down all symptoms every day, give things 3-4 weeks to manifest or change. Do not just “try something because you read about it”, research every aspect of a supplement before you put it in your body. Not all formulations of supplements are accurately produced. (Think Totalbodyformula incident) and people have different threshholds of tolerance. I’ve practiced alternative health –nutrition -can we call that alternative?- herbs, homeopathy, you name it, I know it–for 20 years, and I make mistakes!! Losing my hair has made me profoundly sad! Have hope, be careful. Best, Joni

    • Joni says

      Armour and Naturethroid are dessicated thyroid, and have iodine and selenium compounds in them. That is what thyroid hormones are. So, if you are taking one of these, do not supplement with neither potassium iodide nor selenium. I feel great on the naturethroid, but when I added 100 mcg of selenium, together with the amount present in foods, I overdosed. All animal/fish has plenty of selenium, as does oats and brown rice. The upper limit is 400mcg per day, but that may be too much for some. Your body needs a scant 45-70 mcg per day, and elimination of excess is slow. Overload can be quite damaging. And for Pete’s sake don’t eat Brazil nuts, just google the woman who ate to many of those and ended up looking like the guy who drank from the wrong grail in Indiana Jones.

  73. says

    I accidentally began taking selenium for some other reason and only later did I learn of its role in thyroid function. This all occurred within months of my TPA’s (anti a/b?) first becoming elevated to around <200. It's possible that after a certain point, time with tpa's and level of tpa's, taking selenium will not reverse the Hashi disease process.

    Endo doctors in US, in my experience, know nothing about the role of selenium or of any other way to reverse the Hashi disease. Europe has published peer reviewed medical journals about selenium's affects on the thyroid but zip, nada, nothing coming from US medical journals.

  74. Rich says

    I suffer from Grave’s and started taking Selenium 200mcg about a year ago and it really helped with my symptoms but, last month I was diagnosed with with type II Diabetes. Now I find that it may be related to the Selenium supplement. I am going to call and get my levels tested.

  75. Tara says

    I just has my selenium level checked as part of a work up testing thyroid levels and my selenium was high at 213 with the normal range stated as 120-200. I see a lot of reference in the comments to having too much selenium but not what the symptoms of it are. Can anyone elaborate? I do not supplement selenium. I figure this must be due to the amount of eggs I consume.

  76. Jane Murphy says

    I supplemented with selenium 200mcg when first diagnosed and also became a paleo eater, after 4months the TPO antibodies had halved and then after 8 I no long needed selenium as my gut was restored and began absorbing efficiently from food. My selenium was very high on last test and causing hair loss and brittle nails and a few other things that seemed o have subsided. Any supplementation should be monitored.

  77. Kris says

    I have been playing with my selenium supplementation with Now Brand at 200 mcg. When I am gluten free and supplementing I have noticed that when I take it at night along with my T3/T4 sublingual I wake up hot a lot and perhaps that is why my hair seems to fall out more. However, when I checked my labs, I do have a suppressed TSH, my FT3 was so high it was out of range for the first time ever but my FT4 was so low it was out of range? The only thing I can figure is that I was over converting and had too lost all of my T4 to conversion? No one seems to understand it but when I back off and take selenium a few days a week, I can tell as I am not “hot” at night and my weight will change in a day or two…. Not sure what works best for me with selenium yet.

    • Cathy says

      Kris, I’ve been having trouble regulating the amount of selenium I take, too. Do you notice weight gain or weight loss? When I take too much, I get palpitations, my heart seems to race and I get hot, but I also gain weight. I’m really confused by this. I feel like it makes me hyper but then why the weight gain? If FT3 is the most important for metabolism, why do I feel worse with a higher FT3? Just wondering if your situation is the same or if you have any insights. Thanks!

  78. Linda says

    Hi Chris,
    can I ask your opinion please?
    I’ve just been diagnosed with Thyroid Eye Disease, (thyroid anti-bodies positive back in April but Doctors would do nothing) now being referred to an Endocrinologist but in the meantime the eye clinic have prescribed me 2 x 200mc selenium a day, does that seem a high dose to you?
    regards,
    Linda

  79. Liz says

    Wonderful website. I’ve been losing my mind trying to research what is happening to me. The most I can get from my doctor is that I am vitamin D deficient and slightly hypothyroid. I underwent gastric bypass surgery 10 years ago and since then have suffered from episodes of reactive hypoglacemia. I am self diagnosing myself based on this as Hashimoto’s. Not one MD that I’ve seen so far has been of any help, but I will look for a ND as my last resort. I tried supplimenting with iodine, starting with 6.5 mg and slowly reaching 50 mg’s and the results were not good. I was always tired and felt like i was constantly coming down with something. The weirdest part was the crazy, uncomfortable itching sensation in my throat. I was also supplimenting with selenium, vitamin D and vitamin C. I am currently on just the last three and feeling fine. I’m hesitant to go back on the iodine, but I may give it a second chance.

    • says

      Liz, the reactive hypoglycemia is most likely something else. Hashimoto’s is diagnosed by thyroid antibodies. An endocrinologist will do the correct blood work and give you an accurate diagnosis. If you slightly hypothyroid, with a TSH over 3.8, this can be corrected by the foods you eat. Most doctors will recommend thyroid supplement to treat hypothyroidism.

  80. says

    As a natural health coach, I have found that in the correction phase an average of 200 mcg/day of selenium works the best. I use only foods and diet to correct low thyroid function. This has been found whether it is just low TSH, Hashimoto’s or hypothyroid. In the maintenance phase, an average of 75 mcg/day is the range to be in. There are plenty of food sources of selenium that have balanced nutrients for bioavailability. When taking a supplement, you have the added challenge of making sure you are getting the other nutrients the body needs to utilize the selenium. Also, selenium doesn’t work alone, there are other thyroid nutrients needed to create the correct synergy of thyroid function.

  81. Yousef says

    Hi Chris,

    I read Paul’s article regarding selenium and iodine.

    It concludes in part 1 that our selenium levels should be optimal in order to tolerate a wide range of iodine. Any excess or deficiency should cause harm.

    In part 2, it concludes the same.

    Now the question is..
    What level of selenium is optimal?
    And how do we test it? blood? serum? plasma? urine? hair? nails? intracellular white blood cells?

    What levels are considered toxic (seleniosis)?

    These are really important questions that I have been looking for an answer for a very long time. I would appreciate your kind reply.

    I asked him on his blog but he did not reply. So I would like to listen from you.

    Thank you

  82. Debi Dahn says

    I had thyroid cancer and it was removed. Did 2 years of radiation treatments. Then I became depress and now I am on anti-depressant and 20 pds heavier. I was talking to a co-worker and she told me to take Selenium. I went out and purchase a bottle of 200 mcg. Will be ok to take with my Thyroid meds? If this meds work with people with Thyroid problems. Why doesn’t the Dr. mention this drug to the patient?? I am also taking Vitamin B-6, B-12, Zinc, vitamin D along with a Multi-Vitamin. I also have asthma so I do a inhaler 2 a day. I guess my question is. Is it ok to take Selenium 200 mcg 1 tablet daily? Thank you! Debi D.

  83. m. parris says

    Dr. Kresser,

    I recently made many lifestyle changes, and started taking thyroid protomorphogens which are supposed to REDUCE antibodies. I have been feeling great, and my thyroid swelling disappeared. I was disappointed when I found out last week that despite feeling great, my antibodies have DOUBLED? What gives? Can healing cause an antibody spike?

    Thank you.

  84. Glwest says

    I bought a high quality selenium (Innate) and I still get mouth and chin numbness when I use any selenium. What would cause this?

  85. Annemarie says

    I was informed that selenium would be beneficial for my thyroid however I am hypo but subclininal levels. I am iodine deficient after 6 months on iodine I feel my symptoms reducing and multiple nodules shrinking but after reading this it seems selenium may decrease my iodine levels is this correct? I don’t want to counteract the iodine benefits by taking selenium.

  86. Mark Colclough says

    Thank-you Chris. I am 46 and Hypothyroid for 28 years following Radio Active iodine. Whatever dose of Thyroxin that I took, it never seem to ‘really work’ until a Kinseologist suggested I have a selenium deficiency. Within weeks of taking selenium cysteine my symptoms improved and most notably, my bowels started working absolutely correctly so to speak. If I stop or slow the 200mcg of selenium, my bowels ‘slow down’. Bowel efficiency in someone Hypothyroid can be a good pointed as to whether you are a) on correct dose of T4 or b) If that T4 you are taking is converting to T3!. My selenium is supplied by Metabolics Ltd on 01380 812 799

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