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Gluten Induced Nutritional Deficiencies Contributes to Thyroid Hormone Disease


Nutrients Important for Thyroid Function –

  1. Iodine – this mineral helps the body build T4 (the hormone that doctors commonly measure that floats through the bloodstream)
  2. Vitamins D and A – these fat soluble vitamins allow T3 (the active hormone) to communicate with your DNA and increase your metabolism.
  3. Zinc – this mineral helps your body make TSH (the hormone made in your brain that tells your thyroid gland to make T4).
  4. Magnesium – this essential mineral also helps your brain make TSH. In addition, magnesium helps regulate cortisol and insulin (two hormones that communicate with and help to regulate thyroid levels in your body.)
  5. Calcium – this mineral helps thyroid hormone communicate to cells.
  6. Protein – most Americans eat too many carbs and not enough protein. Protein is absolutely necessary to form the backbone of thyroid hormone. It also carries the hormone through the blood stream to your tissues.

How This Woman Overcame Her Thyroid Disease…

It is a well established medical fact, that nutrition plays a huge role in the proper functioning of hormones. Unfortunately, many doctors responsible for treating thyroid disease completely ignore the nutritional component and jump straight to medications as a solution. Medication can help temporarily, but it never solves the underlying problem. Additionally, most prescription thyroid medications are not TRUE gluten free. A new study sheds light on the fact that selenium deficiency can be caused by gluten induced malabsorption. The researchers go on to say that Selenium deficiency can cause thyroid diseases and can lead to unregulated inflammatory damage…

Regarding gluten sensitivity –

the target organs are not limited to the gut, but include thyroid, liver, skin and reproductive and nervous systems…

Regarding selenium deficiency –

Thus, selenium malabsorption in CD (celiac disease) can be thought as a key factor directly leading to thyroid and intestinal damage.
Source: Ann Ist Super Sanita. 2010;46(4):389-399.   It is no medical mystery that gluten can cause vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Selenium is a mineral with multiple functions within the body. A short list of some of selenium’s more common roles is listed below:
  • It plays a role in the production of active thyroid hormone (see chart below).
  • It is a powerful anti-inflammatory and helps to regulate immune function.
  • It helps your liver detoxify and neutralize potent body damaging chemicals
  • It plays a role in blood viscosity (reduces excessive clotting of the blood).
  • It drives the most powerful antioxidant system in the body.

Relationship Between Gluten and Selenium


This study points out that no only does gluten induced selenium deficiency cause abnormal thyroid hormone production, it leads to excessive inflammation and autoimmune disease. In previous posts we have discussed how going on a gluten free diet can lead to fat loss. This is one of those mechanisms as hypothyroid disease is a common manifestation of gluten intolerance.

In previous posts we have discussed how going on a gluten free diet can lead to fat loss. One of the reasons this happens for many is that a gluten free diet helps the thyroid gland start working again. This in turn increases the metabolism.

What Can You Do If You Have Been Diagnosed with Hypothyroidism?

Have your doctor perform the following tests –
  1. Iodine loading test (urine test)
  2. Spectracell (vitamin and mineral deficiency blood test)
  3. Reverse T3 and thyroid antibody testing
  4. Genetic testing for gluten sensitivity
It is time for doctors to start ruling out gluten sensitivity, celiac disease, and nutritional deficiencies in patients with thyroid disease. If your doctor will not investigate these areas for you, look for a functional medicine doctor who will. If you think that this information will help someone you love suffering with a thyroid problem, please forward this along.

3 Responses

  1. Kelly: Thanks so much for this valuable information, resolving a mystery of why brazil nuts have been the only food I’ve experienced what I thought was instead an allergic reaction! (Extremely helpful as I’m not able to tolerate supplements, and have been concerned about potential mercury in tuna which I’ve been relying upon for selenium instead.)

    For two years I took SSKI potassium iodide which exacerbated my thyroid imbalance and discontinued after learning about the gluten/selenium link and have felt much better.

  2. Gluten Free Society, this is a great summary of some of the nutritional issues relating to thyroid function that often affect people with celiac disease and others who are sensitive to gluten – thank you for putting it together and making it so easy to read and understand.

    Many healthcare professionals recommend the use of multivitamins for anyone who needs to avoid major food groups (such as gluten), and for a lot of people this simple step will help to prevent or overcome some of the nutritional deficiencies you’ve listed here. In addition to the methylselenocysteine mentioned by Kelly above, it’s also worth noting that selenomethionine is another organic form of selenium and a good choice for those looking to take supplements.

    Keep up the great work!

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