The Vital Connection: Understanding the Importance of Selenium for Thyroid Health and Well-being
Selenium is a mineral that plays a crucial role in the functioning of the thyroid gland. The thyroid is a gland in the neck that produces hormones that regulate metabolism, heart health, body temperature, mental and physical energy, and more. Thyroid hormones are essential for good health, and an inadequate intake of selenium can lead to thyroid problems.
Selenium is an essential trace mineral that is required for the proper functioning of various enzymes involved in thyroid hormone metabolism, including the conversion of thyroxine (T4) into triiodothyronine (T3). T3 is the biologically active thyroid hormone, so if T4 does not convert to T3 - hypothyroidism will ensue.
Selenium is required for the proper functioning of various enzymes involved in thyroid hormone metabolism, including the conversion of thyroxine (T4) into triiodothyronine (T3).
Here's how selenium helps with the conversion of thyroid storage hormone T4 to the biologically active thyroid hormone T3:
Deiodinase Enzymes: The conversion of T4 to T3 primarily occurs through the action of specific enzymes called deiodinases. These enzymes remove an iodine atom from the T4 molecule to produce T3. Selenium is an integral component of these deiodinase enzymes, particularly type 1 and type 2 deiodinases.
Type 1 Deiodinase (D1): This enzyme is present in various tissues, including the liver, kidney, and thyroid gland. It is responsible for the conversion of T4 into the active form of thyroid hormone, T3. Selenium acts as a cofactor for D1, supporting its enzymatic activity and facilitating the conversion process.
Type 2 Deiodinase (D2): D2 is predominantly found in the brain, brown adipose tissue, and other tissues. It plays a vital role in regulating local T3 concentrations. Selenium is also involved in the activity of D2 and helps convert T4 to T3.
Here are a few more key points about the role of selenium in thyroid health:
- Thyroid hormone synthesis: Selenium is an essential component of the enzyme, iodothyronine deiodinase, which is involved in the synthesis of thyroid hormones. Without adequate selenium, the thyroid may produce insufficient amounts of hormones, leading to hypothyroidism.
- Antioxidant protection: Selenium acts as an antioxidant, protecting the thyroid from oxidative stress and cellular damage. This can help to prevent inflammation and damage to the gland, reducing the risk of thyroid disease.
- Immunity boost: Selenium helps to enhance the immune system and can help to protect against autoimmune disorders, such as Hashimoto's thyroiditis, which can lead to hypothyroidism.
- Regulation of thyroid hormone metabolism: Selenium is involved in the metabolism of thyroid hormones, ensuring that the hormones are properly metabolized and transported in the body.
Dr. Gary Foresman MD suggests 200mcg of selenium per day and for those who have started thyroid hormone replacement, he often suggests 400mcg per day.
- Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health. (2021, March 8). Selenium. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Selenium-Consumer/
- World Health Organization. (2021). Selenium. https://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/selenium/en/
- American Thyroid Association. (2021). Selenium and the Thyroid. https://www.thyroid.org/selenium-and-the-thyroid/
- Mayo Clinic. (2021, June 2). Selenium. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-selenium/art-20363957
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