On the search to feel more energetic, more upbeat and regulate weight with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease? Have you heard about the mineral selenium? It is one of the most extensively researched, science based, natural treatments for reducing the autoimmune attack on the thyroid!
The Selenium Story:
The selenium and thyroid story are closely tied:
- Your thyroid has the highest selenium concentrations (per gram) in your body as compared with all your other organs.
- Selenium forms part of proteins that help make thyroid hormones biologically active allowing the conversion of T4 (storage form of thyroid hormone) into T3 (active thyroid hormone) and those that help reduce damage to the thyroid.
- Being very low in selenium has been linked to greater potential for damage to both thyroid cells and tissue (Drutel, Archambeaud & Caron, 2013).
The effect of selenium on reducing thyroid antibodies in both Hashimoto’s and Graves has been repeatedly studied with promising results.
Selenium supplementation has been repeatedly found to be associated with a significant decrease in antibody levels after 3, 6 and 12 months of use. In some studies selenium supplementation has also been found to lead to an improvement in mood and/or general well-being (Toulis, et al., 2010; Fan, et al., 2014)
Selenium supplementation has been found to enhance the effect of antithyroid drugs in patients with recurrent Graves’ disease (Wang et al., 2016; Vrca et al., 2004).
Graves’ orbitopathy affects about half of people with Graves and a study concluded selenium supplementation for 6 months improves the course of Graves’ orbitopathy and the related impairment in quality of life (Marcocci, et al., 2011).
At risk of postpartum thyroiditis:
Selenium supplementation during pregnancy* and in the postpartum period reduced thyroid inflammatory activity and the incidence of hypothyroidism (Negro, et al., 2007). *Never take a supplement during pregnancy unless you have been specifically advised it is ok for you and your developing bub by your treating medical professional.
Can I Eat Selenium?
Selenium is found in our foods with the richest food sources from: meat, fish, shellfish, offal, eggs, cereals and the much discussed in the thyroid world, the Brazil nut.
However the selenium content of foods is highly dependent on the selenium content of the soil where they are grown. The soils of Australia, New Zealand and Europe are known to be very low in selenium content. Plus food is not a reliable source of selenium as the body’s ability to extract selenium from the foods you eat (bioavailability) is very variable (Thompson, 2004; Tinggi, 2003)
Some studies have found no particular benefit in selenium for autoimmune thyroid disorders. It seems that benefit is mainly found when the people tested are actually low in Selenium. Considering some countries are known to have low selenium content to their soils there might be some benefit for advice on selenium and autoimmune thyroid conditions being tailored to the country (Thompson, 2004).
Winther, et al. (2017) and his colleagues found no benefit for selenium in their meta analysis against the participants T4 measures or quality of life indicators. Interestingly none of the studies I’ve quoted so far concluded a benefit in T4. All the benefits concluded were in the antibody attack!
Too Much Is Not A Good Thing
- Too much selenium is dangerous and toxic to the body so be very careful to take the recommended dosage advised only.
- Supplementation at 200 micrograms longer than 12 months has not been tested and is not advised.
- A risk of diabetes has been reported following long-term selenium supplementation.
As yet the evidence for selenium supplementation in a variety of autoimmune thyroid conditions is not conclusive so if you want to know what I recommend I’ll walk you through my process:
- Substantial amount of mounting evidence for the benefit of supplementing selenium for those with autoimmune conditions.
- Relative low cost of high quality selenium supplementations.
- Limited time period for supplementation somewhere between 3 – 12 months.
- No conclusive answer in the research means possible waste of money in selenium supplements.
- Need to make sure you do not take too much as excess is toxic.
- Need to remember to stop taking it after 3 months.
In Health Sonia x
For more information or to make an appointment contact me on email@example.com
Please remember the information contained in this blog is for your education and as a jumping off point for you to seek tailored advice specific to your circumstances. Nothing written here can constitute medical advice for an individual.
Calissendorff, J., Mikulski, E., Larsen, E. H., & Möller, M. (2015). A Prospective investigation of Graves’ disease and selenium: thyroid hormones, auto-antibodies and self-rated symptoms. European Thyroid Journal, 4(2), 93-98.
Fan, Y., Xu, S., Zhang, H., Cao, W., Wang, K., Chen, G., … & Liu, C. (2014). Selenium supplementation for autoimmune thyroiditis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Endocrinology, 2014.
Marcocci, C., Kahaly, G. J., Krassas, G. E., Bartalena, L., Prummel, M., Stahl, M., … & Sivelli, P. (2011). Selenium and the course of mild Graves’ orbitopathy. New England Journal of Medicine, 364(20), 1920-1931.
Nacamulli, D., Mian, C., Petricca, D., Lazzarotto, F., Barollo, S., Pozza, D., … & Mantero, F. (2010). Influence of physiological dietary selenium supplementation on the natural course of autoimmune thyroiditis. Clinical Endocrinology, 73(4), 535-539.
Negro, R., Greco, G., Mangieri, T., Pezzarossa, A., Dazzi, D., & Hassan, H. (2007). The influence of selenium supplementation on postpartum thyroid status in pregnant women with thyroid peroxidase autoantibodies. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 92(4), 1263-1268.
Toulis, K. A., Anastasilakis, A. D., Tzellos, T. G., Goulis, D. G., & Kouvelas, D. (2010). Selenium supplementation in the treatment of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: a systematic review and a meta-analysis. Thyroid, 20(10), 1163-1173.
Vrca, V. B., Skreb, F., Cepelak, I., Romic, Z., & Mayer, L. (2004). Supplementation with antioxidants in the treatment of Graves’ disease; the effect on glutathione peroxidase activity and concentration of selenium.Clinica chimica acta, 341(1), 55-63.
Wang, L., Wang, B., Chen, S. R., Hou, X., Wang, X. F., Zhao, S. H., … & Wang, Y. G. (2016). Effect of selenium supplementation on recurrent hyperthyroidism caused by Graves’ disease: a prospective pilot study.Hormone and Metabolic Research, 48(09), 559-564.
Winther, K. H., Wichman, J. E. M., Bonnema, S. J., & Hegedüs, L. (2017). Insufficient documentation for clinical efficacy of selenium supplementation in chronic autoimmune thyroiditis, based on a systematic review and meta-analysis. Endocrine, 55(2), 376. doi:10.1007/s12020-016-1098-z