Zinc deficiency and thyroid problems. Episode 19.

Hi there! I had my labs done on Monday and thought I would share with you what they were and what I have been doing. 

My TSH has been quite low for about 6 months. This last test shows it at .006 uIU/mL which is down from .021 uIU/mL (microliter/milliliter) two months ago. My Free T4 is 1.55 ng/dL (nanograms/deciliter)  (.94 two months ago) and my Free T3 is high at 5.1pg/ML (picograms/ milliliter which is one trillionth of a gram) (3.1 pg/mL two months ago.) 

I don’t know if I am being too aware but I don’t feel as well at these current levels. I am getting headaches in the morning (sometimes they wake me at night) that go away in the afternoon and my whole body hurt yesterday. I feel a little bit achy today too.  So, obviously I am in a hyper state but I don’t have any typical symptoms of hyperthyroid. I am sleeping good, I am not losing weight, I do not have any tremors. I have had a racing heart twice- like super racing heart out of the blue and it lasts for about 30 seconds and then it is gone. It is a little scary. Not a regular thing though. I have been losing more hair than normal in the shower though- so I knew something was up. 

Before I tell you what I have been doing, I want to say that you should in no way do this on your own or even at all. I sort of experimented on myself so I could tell you all about it. Do not do this at home!! 

My latest medication was a compounded thyroid powder which I can’t get anymore so I started taking Biotics Research GTA Forte II which is a glandular porcine concentrate with zinc, selenium, copper and rubidium in it. I was taking half a dose of my compounded medication and 2 capsule of the GTA for about a month. Then I gradually weaned off the compounded meds and took 4 capsules of the GTA for about another month. When I was starting to feel off, I asked to have new labs done. These were the result. So I am backing off the supplement and I have asked my doctor to test my antibodies and Reverse T3 and I would like to have an ultrasound to see if my thyroid is all there and working. 

I will keep you posted. 

Today I am going to talk about zinc deficiency and the role it plays in the breakdown of the thyroid. 

If you are not a fan of red meat and you don’t eat much of it, you might be deficient. Zinc is a needed cofactor (which means it is needed for a chemical reaction to happen) for some enzymes that do repair work on the cells structure in the body. It is needed to help cells divide and grow and it plays a role in growth and in the immune system. 

So just from this we know we need zinc if we have hashimoto’s if it plays a role in the immune system because hahsimoto’s is an immune system problem which results in a thyroid problem. 

Zinc has a big role in wound healing as well. I always had longer healing times when I got a cut as a kid. Funny I remember that from my childhood. There is so much I can look back on now and pinpoint to reasons I ended up with autoimmune disease. It is thought to have a role in more body functions than any other mineral. One of these is detoxification. Many of us are dealing with amalgam or silver fillings which have mercury in them and can be a big source of problems. 

Dry patches on your skin is a very early sign of zinc deficiency and they can progress to acne, blisters that can have pus in them.  If you are deficient you might also not tolerate sugar very well. I think this is me. Your sex hormones can be out of whack and you can lose your hair. So if you are losing larger amounts of hair than normal this could be the problem. A deficiency might make it harder for your body to use things like vitamin A, D, your thyroid hormones. 

So why are we deficient? It is pretty common due to deficiency in the soil especially if you are eating conventionally grown foods or if you consume a mostly standard American diet which would consist of factory farmed meats and processed foods. Most things that come in a box are devoid of nutrients. 

Zinc and other minerals are considered micronutrients but for being micro, they play very important roles. We only have around 2 grams of zinc total in our body or at about 33 parts per million. It is water soluble meaning we don’t usually store it so we must get it from our diet. So cooking your veggies in water means the zinc in them goes into the water and not into you. Most of the zinc is lost in refining of things like wheat (which we should not be eating anyway). 

Zinc is found in abundance in oysters, red meat (especially beef, lamb and pork), liver, herring and egg yolks and cheese. It is better absorbed from meat products but you can get them from whole grains, beans and to some degree pumpkin seeds. So you have to take a look at your diet. If you are doing an elimination diet and eating plenty of red meat and liver you are probably okay. If you have been able to add back in some of these other foods then you are getting zinc from a variety of sources. Dr. Wilson Haas, in Staying Healthy With Nutrition, does not believe you will get enough zinc in your diet unless you really focus on eating those foods high in zinc. 

The problem with getting zinc from whole grains, nuts or seeds is that the phytates in them bind it up and making absorption of the zinc not as good. Phytates are in grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds- all of these things have something in common. The phytates on them are meant to keep the bean or seed in tact so it can replant itself when you eliminate it. The phytate is an energy source for the seed when it is sprouting. The phytate breaks down during sprouting so the one thing you can do to ensure better absorption of the minerals in the foods mentioned is to soak and sprout them before eating them. 

I don’t recommend supplementing long term without supervision of someone who can monitor your health. If you choose to supplement choose zinc acetate, sulfate, gluconate or citrate. Do not use zinc oxide. It is best absorbed on an empty stomach but can be taken with food to avoid feeling nauseous. Be mindful that too much zinc can disrupt the amount of copper in your body. 

Okay, so how does this relate to thyroid problems? Well, zinc is needed to convert T4 to T3. So if you are zinc deficient and you have your labs tested your TSH could be hight because T4 is not converting to T3 so the cells are not getting T3 and the message to the brain is make more T4 so the brain tells the pituitary to send a message to the thyroid via TSH to make more T4. Vicious cycle. Also, when this is happening, we are not able to break down proteins as well- not just protein in your diet but all the proteins in the body that do biochemical things. We also need zinc to form TSH so if we are making more of it because we are not converting T4 to T3 then we can be depleting it that way too. 

If you are on a stomach acid reducer such as prilosec, nexium or something like pepcid, you will be zinc deficient. This all starts with good digestion and needed enough stomach acid to break down the food in our stomach. 

Birth control pills also deplete zinc as well as B vitamins, magnesium, your gut flora, vitamin A and selenium.

It seems that many of us with thyroid problems are zinc deficient and could use some supplementation. Keep it to around 30 mg per day and make sure it is in divided doses and find someone who can test plasma levels or do hair tissue mineral analysis. 

You must heal your gut and clean up your diet as well as make sure you are digesting your food well in order to be able to use zinc and to maintain a healthy level in the body.  Zinc has been shown to close up the tight junctions that are open in leaky gut or intestinal permeability. It will also help adrenal dysfunction. 

That is it for me today. I have two chapters of biochemistry to learn in a day and a half so I have to get to studying. 

I thank you so much for listening. Join me over on the Help For Hashimoto’s facebook group, and join me on Instagram at StephanieEwalsNTP. 

Got a question about your thyroid? Send it to me at HelpForHashimotos@gmail.com  

Head on over to my website Help For Hashimoto’s dot com to get your free Ebook- 5 things your doctor won’t tell you about hypothyroidism. It is a quick read with some good info. 

See you next week.