Thursday, April 3, 2014

Supplements for Hypothyroidism & PCOS

I have both hypothyroidism and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which are pretty common together. Both contribute to my infertility. I test my thyroid every few months and take a natural thyroid hormone replacement prescription called Nature Throid. The only medication I was ever prescribed for PCOS was Metformin (Glucophage) to help with the insulin resistance aspect of the disorder, but that drug wreaks havoc on your gastrointestinal tract. So I quit taking it and replaced it with a more natural treatment (apple cider vinegar). The PCOS Diva is really helpful in advising diet changes and supplements and I like reading her blog. I've made a lot of changes in my diet since September, when I started treating my thyroid. I've noticed a drastic difference in how I feel, but it's been hard to overhaul my entire diet and I don't always succeed. I'm getting better. I drink a lot of green smoothies (check out The Green Smoothie Girl) and protein shakes and I supplement where I need to, because adding supplements is easier for me right now than trying to eliminate other things (like sugar and gluten). One thing at a time!

These are some notes I've jotted down over the last few months - supplements that I've researched and have found that help with either hypothyroidism or PCOS, which go hand-in-hand for me. I'm not a doctor... these are just my notes! It took awhile for me to really want to make a change and focus on my health in general and on my fertility specifically. I'm ready to get pregnant, lol. That may sound obvious, but I don't think I was ready until just recently. All these 10 years of "trying" have all been laced with the fear of it actually happening. Eek! But I'm ready now, empowered. Let's do this! :)

Supplements for Hypothyroidism and/or PCOS:
  • Strong, high quality multivitamin (I take a prenatal)
  • Iodine
  • Selenium
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • All the B vitamins (vegetarians/vegans in particular should pay close attention to eating vitamin B-12 fortified foods or supplementing)
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D (very, very important and the daily recommendation of 400 IUs is usually not nearly enough... I'm taking 5,000 IUs a day to build mine back up because I was super deficient)
  • Vitamin E
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Amino acids (specifically tyrosine for thyroid, but also n-acetyl cysteine, carnitine, arginine, glutamine, isoleucine, leucine, and valine)
  • Magnesium
  • Probiotics
  • Chromium picolinate
  • Apple cider vinegar (a shot of it right before each meal helps with insulin resistance)
  • Co-Enzyme Q10
  • True cinnamon
  • D-Chiro-inositol

Things to limit/avoid:
  • Soy
  • Gluten
  • Chronic stress
  • Pesticides (eating organic helps)
  • Toxins/heavy metals (detoxing helps)
  • Fish with high mercury levels
  • Genetically modified foods
  • Cow's milk
  • Smoking
  • Over-the-counter "thyroid-boosting products" that include thyroid hormones (these should be prescribed and monitored)
  • Large quantities of cruciferous vegetables (I doubt the average American gets anywhere near "large quantities" of cruciferous vegetables, so I wouldn't worry about this unless it's all you eat)
  • Foods high in sugar, carbs, and starches
  • Unhealthy diet in general
  • Birth control pills

Other notes:
  • Prescription replacement thyroid hormone is usually necessary if you have a thyroid disorder, no matter what supplements you take (unless you have a really mild case). Nature Throid has worked really well for me.
  • Exercising every day is important, even for just 30 minutes.
  • Addressing underlying food allergies/intolerance is important.
  • Blood work can be done to determine if you have a deficiency in any of the essential vitamins/minerals.
  • Finding the optimum dosage of each supplement is important, so do the proper testing to know where you are deficient. I was super deficient in vitamin D and have been taking a much higher dosage than normally recommended to build it up in my system. It's possible to overdose on certain supplements, so figure out what YOU need.
  • Addressing weight issues is important (although both hypothyroidism and PCOS can make it very difficult to lose weight).
  • Drink more water and eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Baby aspirin helps to aid blood flow to the uterus and ovaries and is also something I take.
  • Some supplements or medication can interfere with Nature Throid absorption, so I take my thyroid medication in the morning and all my vitamins at least 4 hours later.
  • Don't take anything without talking with your doctor first, especially if you have additional health problems and/or are taking other medications, including fertility drugs.

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