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Why the Combination of Selenium and Iodine Is Important

The thyroid, this mysterious gland that is shaped like a butterfly and seems to rule almost every function in our body, needs food just like every other organ. We are responsible for providing our thyroids with the right amount of trace minerals, vitamins and nutrients for it to function properly. One of the most important and well-known of these minerals is iodine. But there is another key component to iodine when it comes to supporting the thyroid: selenium.

Selenium is a trace mineral that we might not be aware of or think much about, even if we are familiar with iodine and are even supplementing with it for thyroid health. It is not only the second most important mineral for good thyroid function, but it is also critical to the vitality of many other organs and body systems. While iodine may be supporting our thyroid sufficiently, it ought to be used in combination with selenium for best results.

Why Iodine Does Not Work Well Alone

Even if we are getting adequate amounts of iodine through our diet and any supplements, our thyroids may still be struggling due to a lack of selenium. Iodine deficiency on its own can lead to thyroid problems, such as the fairly common autoimmune disorder, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. But combined with a selenium deficiency, the thyroid is even less likely to be able to function optimally and may not be able to regulate our bodies and produce hormones in the way that it should.

Selenium and Iodine Together: The Perfect Combination

More than every other organ in the body, the thyroid holds the highest amount of selenium within its walls (by weight). While iodine supports the thyroid by boosting its productivity and generally giving it the food it needs to function properly, selenium protects and nurtures the thyroid, regulating inflammation, nourishing it and helping it to perform its many roles. Together, selenium and iodine are the two most important minerals that thyroids need for ideal function, and if there is a shortage of them, the thyroid may suffer.

Many people are being found to be lacking in selenium, this trace mineral that is so crucial for thyroid well-being. This selenium deficiency can be linked back to many different factors, including lack of nutrition, absorption issues, thyroid diseases themselves and other existing health issues. Some speculate that food that is grown in areas of soil that are selenium deficient leads to a lack of selenium in those who eat these fruits and vegetables.

How Can You Get Selenium Into Your Diet?

While most adults in modern countries are not considered to be at strong risk for selenium deficiency, evidence is showing that diets low in selenium may be more common than we think. Even when you do have sufficient amounts of selenium in your food, you may not be absorbing it fully, and selenium supplementation may still be able to help boost your thyroid function. Selenium can be found in many foods, but the following are especially excellent sources.

  • Brazil nuts – even eating just one or two of these nuts per day may provide adequate selenium levels!

  • Seafood, such as good quality tuna, shrimp, sardines, salmon, scallops, oysters and cod

  • Meat, such as pastured or sustainably raised turkey, chicken, beef, pork, bacon and lamb

  • Cheese

  • Oats

  • Eggs

  • Shiitake or button mushrooms

  • Chia seeds

  • Dried beans, such as pinto or lima beans

  • Brown rice

  • Seeds, such as flax, sesame and sunflower

  • Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli and cabbage

There are so many different foods that contain rich amounts of selenium that it should not be a struggle to get a decent amount into your diet, regardless of whether you are a vegetarian, a vegan, gluten-free, paleo or on any other type of eating regimen. Still, selenium supplementation is also an option just to make sure you are getting enough of this valuable mineral.

How Can You Get Iodine Into Your Diet?

Those who are on diets that are very low in salt, or those who primarily consume salt that has not been iodized, are at the greatest risk for iodine deficiency. Fortunately, it is fairly easy to work adequate amounts of iodine back into your diet and boost your thyroid health this way. Here are some good sources of iodine.

  • Seaweed and other sea vegetables, especially kombu, bladderwrack, wakame and nori

  • Seafood, such as scallops, cod, shrimp, sardines, tuna and salmon

  • Yogurt and milk

  • Eggs

  • Cranberries and strawberries

  • Navy beans

  • Potatoes, especially the skins

Still, many people get the bulk of their iodine through iodized salt, which you can purchase at every grocery store. This type of salt, which has additional iodine added back into it, is a good way to ensure that you are getting adequate amounts of iodine in your diet. Combine it with selenium-rich foods or supplements, and you have a recipe for a healthy, happy thyroid.