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Selenium and Thyroid Hormone Conversion

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Selenium is a huge part of the thyroid hormone conversion process and I believe warrants a bit of a closer look. Here I'd like to share some of what I've learned and how I'm taking that information and using it in my own treatment regime. 

Perhaps it will expand on your own knowledge and research and help you to make decisions on things that you might do with your diet and supplements to help improve your body's ability to convert thyroid hormones.

ThyroGeek
aka Topper (Linda)

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Selenium is a naturally occurring mineral found in most parts of the world. In areas where foods are grown naturally, without the supposed 'benefits' of modern agriculture, selenium levels in the soil are sufficient to allow plants to absorb this valuable mineral during their growth process. We then ate those plants, or food-producing animals ate them, and we were then able to ingest the selenium ourselves. No problem.

There are a few areas on the planet where the land is low in selenium in it's natural state. But with the use of modern agricultural practices, chemical fertilizers, mono-culture, intensive planting, etc. those areas are not the only ones any more where we have to be aware of the fact that many of us are deficient in this vital nutrient.

Folks that eat organically grown foods are much less likely to have be concerned by a deficiency of selenium in their diets. Another good reason to start up a garden in your yard and learn to grow healthy, organic produce!

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How do we add Selenium back into our systems?

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Bar none, the best way is to obtain it from our food. But for a good many of us that isn't an easy task. It's pretty much a given that you are buying the foods you eat from a grocery store and it's quite likely that anything not listed as 'organic' has been produced on a 'modern commercial agriculture' type farm. The type of farm that uses chemical based fertilizers to promote rapid growth of plants without much concern for their nutritional value (sorry, sore subject for me, I am bitter about it), and even worst thought is those farms that are now using GMO type plants, but that is a completely independent topic.

Some foods are naturally higher in selenium than others, but it's still going to depend on what levels, if any, are still in the soil in which they are grown. 

One food that is naturally high in selenium, and likely always will be, is Brazil Nuts.

These trees grow in areas that are in their original state, rich in natural nutrients. The plants are so sensitive to their environment and growing conditions that, so far, no one has been able to transplant them or propagate them in other parts of the world.

Only 3 to 4 brazil nuts a day will give you the selenium you need to have healthy thyroid hormone conversion.

.. provided, of course, you body is converting thyroid hormone properly.

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I take Selenium as a tablet... I'd like to take brazils... a better, more natural source.. but they are next to impossible to find in my area unless they are in a mixed nut package.

For thyroid hormone conversion to work right.. to allow your body to make enough T3 you have to have everything needed for the chemical process...

It all works together. If one part is lacking the conversion isn't working on a high enough level to give us the active hormone, T3, to be well.....

That same conversion process converts some of that T3 that was made into T2... that's used for metabolism..... and some of the T2 that was made is converted into T1... that's used for our brain function.

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Adding supplemental T3

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For those of us that have 'broken converters' adding T3 allows the conversion that we do have to work on the other hormones, T2 and T1... and just top off what we need for T3.... 

There are a couple of ways to do that:

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How much Selenium?

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200 to 400 mcg of Selenium per day is a good range... I take 400 mcg most of the time... taking amounts of 600 mcg and over, for more than 2 weeks, can build up to toxic levels and can be fatal... So you want to take enough to help your body, but not so much as to harm.

Remember to take into consideration what types of foods you eat as well. If you eat more organically you'll obviously need less selenium in a supplement (pill) form.

Selenium used to be common in the foods we eat. But the way that the big commercial farms work now, using chemical fertilizers, the soil is pretty much stripped of selenium.. Some folks say that the increase in folks with thyroid problems might be linked to our diets being so poor in natural selenium... Something to consider.

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How to best take Selenium as a supplement

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There are two things to keep in mind when taking Selenium...

First, if you take anything containing vitamin C at the same time you take the selenium you MUST take it with food. Selenium and vitamin C will bind together and become unusable if you don't. If you eat at the same time the selenium is able to 'hide' in the chemistry of the digesting food and doesn't get stuck to the vitamin C and you get the benefit of both. 

The other thing is the source of selenium when buying tablets... there is a whole chemistry name thing involved.. one form of selenium isn't as easily used by the body.. so think of it as less efficient.. the other is more easily absorbed and used by the body.... think of it as more of it for the money you spent and the effort you made to take it.... The easiest way, for me, to remember the good from the bad... the good is grown using yeast... So if the ingredient label says that it includes yeast.. it's the good stuff.

Some folks have to be wary of yeast, be it an allergy situation or another type of sensitivity issue they can't ingest supplements containing yeast, for them they have to use the other type of selenium and be more vigilant dosing.

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My personal dosing plan

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How and when I choose to take the selenium is the same as for all my supps:

(you can see more about how I set up my doses of meds and supps on the page I set up to show my pill paks: ThyroGeek's Pill Paks)

So my selenium is taken a quarter tab at a time, four times a day... I have this theory that spreading stuff out gives us better absorption... Just like with food, how mini meal eating seems to make it easier for our bodies to process and digest food and absorb nutrients more efficiently.

Not everybody thinks that way... so it's okay to do it in one dose, I just say how I happen to do it.... 

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Your doctor should be able to check your selenium levels to determine if you are in need of supplementation.

Remember ---- It's always best to have the tests run first!

Topper (Linda)
aka ThyroGeek

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