Brazil Nuts: Food for Your Thyroid
By Sarah Axtell, ND • December 21, 2015
Thyroid disorders are among the most common conditions I see in my practice. The thyroid is the organ with the highest selenium content per gram of tissue because it expresses specific selenoproteins. It is well established that selenium status correlates with the development of thyroid pathologies.
Selenium and the Thyroid Gland
Selenium plays a important role in the conversion of T4 (inactive thyroid hormone) to T3 (active thyroid hormone). The deiodinase enzymes that are responsible for this conversion are selenium dependent. Therefore, if you are selenium deficient conversion of T4 to T3 is impaired, leading to hypothyroidism.
Hashimoto’s is the most common thyroid condition. It is an autoimmune thyroid condition in which the immune system attacks the thyroid causing an inflammatory response that results in thyroid cell damage. Several studies have shown selenium supplementation decreases anti-thyroid antibody levels, thus resulting in less of an attack on the thyroid.
In Graves’ disease, another autoimmune thyroid condition, selenium supplementation results in euthyroidism (normal thyroid state) being achieved more rapidly.
Who is at Risk for Selenium Deficiency?
Individuals with digestive disorders are at risk of selenium deficiency due to poor absorption. Also, the amount of selenium in any plant-based food varies according to the levels of selenium in the soil. Our soil here in the US tends to be low in selenium, resulting in selenium deficiency being all too common.
Food Sources of Selenium
Brazil nuts are the best concentrated food source of selenium. Brazil nuts come from trees that grow in the rich soil of the Amazon jungle. Aim for 3-5 per day to provide you with adequate selenium for optimal thyroid health. Eat them as a snack, add them to a smoothie, or add chopped brazil nuts to a salad.
For more info on my approach with thyroid conditions, see these posts:
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.