If you are wanting to feel more energetic, more upbeat and regulate your weight with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or Graves’ disease have you heard about selenium? It is one of the most extensively researched, natural treatments for possibly reducing the autoimmune attack on the thyroid!
With selenium those with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism “had a higher chance to improve the mood without significant adverse events” (Fan, et al., 2014).
What is Selenium?
Selenium is found in the food you eat and is needed for your thyroid and your immune system.
Not enough selenium in your body leads to:
- Poor amounts of active thyroid hormone (T3). Low T3 levels can leave you feeling sluggish, tired and gaining weight (Canaris, Steiner & Ridgway, 1997).
- Increased autoimmune destruction of the thyroid gland which increases your risk of Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism or Graves’ hyperthyroidism (van Zuuren, et al, 2014).
- The greater the number of thyroid antibodies the greater the risk of experiencing chronic fatigue, irritability, nervousness, dry hair, a history of breast cancer, early miscarriage, and lower quality-of- life levels (Ott, et al., 2011).
Will it work for me?
The effect of selenium on reducing thyroid antibodies in both Hashimoto’s and Graves has been repeatedly studied by scientists with promising results.
Taking a selenium supplement may reduce the antibody attack on your thyroid improving your mood and feeling of general well being.
The research: Selenium supplementation has been repeatedly found to be associated with a significant decrease in thyroid antibody levels after 3, 6 and 12 months of use (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).
When you are pregnant & 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.
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).
Can I Eat Selenium?
Selenium is found in our foods with the richest sources from: meat, fish, shellfish, offal, eggs and Brazil nuts (Thompson, 2004; Tinggi, 2003). However the amount of selenium in your food is dependent on the amount of selenium in the soil. If you are from Australia, New Zealand or Europe these countries are known to have very low selenium in their soil (Thompson, 2004; Tinggi, 2003).
How do I know if I am low in Selenium?
The most accurate way to find out own body’s selenium levels is to test your blood via a simple blood test.
Is it the miracle I have been searching for?
The jury is still out.
The argument PRO Selenium:
• It might just help you feel better by reducing thyroid antibodies and improving the amount of active thyroid hormone in your body.
• You don’t take it forever - somewhere between 3 – 12 months.
The argument ANTI Selenium
• It may not work if you have enough selenium in your body (Karanikas, et at ., 2008).
• It may not work at all (van Zuuren, et al., 2014).
• Need to remember to stop taking it after 3 - 12 months as long term selenium supplementation over 7 years was linked to high incidents of diabetes type 2 (Stranges, et al., 2007).
• You can take too much selenium and too much is dangerous.
Tell me more about Selenium:
• Your thyroid loves selenium! Your thyroid has the highest selenium concentrations (per gram) in your body as compared with all your other organs.
• Selenium makes thyroid hormones work. It helps make thyroid hormones active in the body forming part of the protein that converts the storage form of thyroid hormone T4 into the active thyroid hormone T3.
• Selenium protects your thyroid. It has been found in scientific studies to help reduce damage to the thyroid by thyroid antibodies.
• If you don’t have enough you could feel worse than you should be feeling. Not having enough selenium in your body has been linked to greater potential for damage to both thyroid cells and tissue and this means potentially worse symptoms (Drutel, Archambeaud & Caron, 2013; Ott, et al., 2011).
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.
Canaris, G. J., Steiner, J. F., & Ridgway, E. C. (1997). Do traditional symptoms of hypothyroidism correlate with biochemical disease?. Journal of general internal medicine, 12(9), 544-550.
Drutel, A., Archambeaud, F., & Caron, P. (2013). Selenium and the thyroid gland: more good news for clinicians. Clinical Endocrinology, 78(2), 155-164.
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.
Karanikas, G., Schuetz, M., Kontur, S., Duan, H., Kommata, S., Schoen, R., ... & Willheim, M. (2008). No immunological benefit of selenium in consecutive patients with autoimmune thyroiditis. Thyroid, 18(1), 7-12.
Köhrle, J., & Gärtner, R. (2009). Selenium and thyroid. Best practice & research Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 23(6), 815-827.
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.
Ott, J., Promberger, R., Kober, F., Neuhold, N., Tea, M., Huber, J. C., & Hermann, M. (2011). Hashimoto's thyroiditis affects symptom load and quality of life unrelated to hypothyroidism: a prospective case–control study in women undergoing thyroidectomy for benign goiter. Thyroid, 21(2), 161-167.
Stranges, S., Marshall, J. R., Natarajan, R., Donahue, R. P., Trevisan, M., Combs, G. F., ... & Reid, M. E. (2007). Effects of long-term selenium supplementation on the incidence of type 2 diabetes: a randomized trial. Annals of internal medicine, 147(4), 217-223.
Thomson, C. D. (2004). Selenium and iodine intakes and status in New Zealand and Australia. British Journal of Nutrition, 91(5), 661-672.
Tinggi, U. (2003). Essentiality and toxicity of selenium and its status in Australia: a review. Toxicology letters, 137(1), 103-110.
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.
van Zuuren, E. J., Albusta, A. Y., Fedorowicz, Z., Carter, B., & Pijl, H. (2014). Selenium supplementation for Hashimoto's thyroiditis: summary of a Cochrane Systematic Review. European thyroid journal, 3(1), 25-31.
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