Skip to main content
Medically Approved

Supplements for hypothyroidism: Do they work?

twitter share buttonfacebook share buttonlinkedin share buttonemail article button
Supplements to takeCautionMedical treatmentSummary
Supplements like iodine, zinc, and selenium and the medication levothyroxine may support hormone production if you have hypothyroidism or other thyroid-related conditions.
Medically reviewed by Alisha D. Sellers, BS Pharmacy, PharmD
Updated on November 29, 2023

A common thyroid-related challenge is hypothyroidism, when your thyroid doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones. This may require medication, but supplements may also help.

Possible causes of hypothyroidism may include:

  • iodine deficiency 
  • autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto disease 
  • hormonal imbalances in other glands
  • pregnancy 
  • medications like amiodarone and lithium
  • damage to the thyroid gland from impact, surgery, or radiation therapy

Symptoms of hypothyroidism may include:

  • fatigue
  • weight gain
  • sensitivity to cold
  • dry skin 
  • hair loss
  • constipation
  • depression
  • muscle pain and weakness
  • irregular menstrual cycles (in those who menstruate)
  • myxedema, a severe form of hypothyroidism that can be life threatening

To diagnose hypothyroidism, a healthcare professional may assess physical symptoms and analyze levels of thyroid-related hormones from a blood test. These hormones include:

  • thyroxine (T4)
  • triiodothyronine (T3) 
  • thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH)
  • thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)

Are supplements good for hypothyroidism?

Healthcare professional in telehealth session with person with hypothyroidism in need of supplements
Photography by Maskot/Getty Images

Chronic hypothyroidism requires medical support. After assessment of your symptoms and overall health, your healthcare professional may recommend supplements for hypothyroidism, though they will not replace medications.

These are some of the most common supplements:

Selenium

Selenium supports the conversion of T4 into the more active T3. Thus, selenium deficiency may be linked with hypothyroidism, and selenium supplements might help balance thyroid hormone levels.

Selenium may be toxic in large quantities. A healthcare professional can advise you on the right amount of selenium for your medical needs to address hypothyroidism. 

In addition to supplements, you can get selenium from certain foods

  • rice
  • bread
  • nuts, especially Brazil nuts
  • milk
  • fish
  • meat
  • beans 

Vitamin D

A 2021 survey analysis found that vitamin D deficiency may be linked to autoimmune-related hypothyroidism like Hashimoto disease. This may be due to vitamin D’s anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory effects. Getting more vitamin D might improve hypothyroidism in some people. 

You can get vitamin D from supplements and exposure to sunlight, as well as from:

  • vitamin D-fortified foods like milk or cereals
  • fatty fish and fish oil
  • egg yolk
  • some mushrooms

If you need help covering the cost of medications, the free Optum Perks Discount Card could help you save up to 80% on prescription drugs. Follow the links on drug names for savings on that medication, or search for a specific drug here.

Pill bottle with text 'Starts at $4'

Free prescription coupons

Seriously … free. Explore prices that beat the competition 70% of the time.

Get free card

Zinc 

A 2023 study suggests that zinc may be involved in producing thyroid hormones. The study indicates that low zinc levels could increase the risk of developing hypothyroidism.

Zinc also supports selenium absorption. So getting enough zinc may help those with hypothyroidism related to poor T4 to T3 conversion. 

You can get zinc from supplements and from:

  • oysters
  • fish
  • legumes
  • dark chocolate 
  • nuts and seeds 
  • red meat

Iron 

Your body needs iron to convert T4 to the active T3.

A 2017 review article notes that iron deficiency anemia often accompanies thyroid conditions. Therefore, getting enough iron may support thyroid health and improve hypothyroidism symptoms. 

Iron can be toxic in large quantities, so working with a healthcare professional to determine if you have an iron deficiency is highly encouraged.

In addition to getting iron from supplements, you can eat iron-rich foods like: 

  • red meat
  • leafy greens
  • soybeans, tempeh, and tofu
  • nuts and seeds
  • egg yolks
  • liver

Iodine

A 2017 research review discusses iodine being a fundamental component of thyroid hormones. Because iodine deficiency can lead to hypothyroidism, iodine supplements may help manage or prevent the condition in some people.

Not everyone with hypothyroidism needs or benefits from iodine. Talking with your healthcare professional first regarding whether iodine is necessary for your health needs is important.

If you do need iodine, you can get it from these foods:

  • some dairy products
  • iodized salt
  • seafood
  • egg yolk 

What supplements require caution

Although all the supplements mentioned above may support thyroid function, they can also lead to adverse effects if you take them when your body does not need them or if you take high amounts. That’s why it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional before starting supplementation.

In addition, certain supplements may reduce the body’s ability to absorb hypothyroidism medications.

If you take hypothyroidism medications, a 2022 paper advises being cautious with these supplements:

  • fiber 
  • iodine
  • iron 
  • calcium 

How is hypothyroidism treated?

The primary treatment for hypothyroidism is thyroid hormone replacement therapy, usually using a synthetic T4 medication called levothyroxine

Brand-name levothyroxine options include:

Need a refill for levothyroxine (Synthroid)? You may be able to get an online prescription through Optum Perks in as little as 15 minutes with no video or appointment needed. Learn more here.

Depending on your needs, a healthcare professional will advise you regarding the dosage and duration of your treatment. 

In addition, they may recommend treatment for any other health conditions like anemia or nutrient deficiencies to better support overall thyroid health.

Summary

Supplements like iodine, selenium, zinc, vitamin D, and iron may support healthy thyroid function, but it’s important that you consult a healthcare professional before starting any supplementation regimen.  

Article resources