When your thyroid gland is underactive and failing to produce enough hormones to keep your body functioning properly, you can end up with a whole host of nasty side effects. Fatigue is a major one; people who suffer from hypothyroidism often find themselves sluggish, depressed, aching in their muscles and joints and unable to concentrate. They may also suffer from hair loss, skin problems, constipation and inexplicable weight gain. For women, irregular periods, breast milk formation and PMS can be added to that list.
Treating hypothyroidism and getting your energy back can be problematic for those on a vegetarian or vegan diet. Most prescription thyroid medications are made from dessicated animal thyroid glands; there are synthetic counterparts, but they tend to be less effective.
The best way for vegetarians and vegans suffering from a sluggish thyroid to get back on track is through their diet; making sure you're getting enough thyroid-boosting vitamins and minerals may be enough to fix this issue if there's no other mitigating factors (for example, autoimmune disease).
To up your B12 and Vitamin D intake, choose B12/D fortified foods. Nutritional yeast ("nooch") is a popular vegan cheese replacement, with a flavor similar to parmesan and loads of B12 - perfect sprinkled on your meals, or mixed into sauces and soups (this soup is a particular winner). You can also find extra B12 and Vitamin D in fortified cereals and rice/soy drinks; some orange juice brands come with extra vitamin D added.
Iodine is particularly important for good thyroid function. Iodised salt is one option, but adding too much salt to your food can hurt more than it helps. Seaweed is an excellent source of iodine; seaweed salad or nori rolls are a tasty option. Swapping your regular bread for iodised bread bread can be a good option, too. Be careful not to overdo it; you only need 100 - 300 micrograms per day of iodine for optimal thyroid health.
It's possible to get loads of calcium without dairy products. Broccoli contains a good serving of calcium, as do figs, almonds, spinach, tofu and tahini.
To boost your intake of omega-3 fatty acid ALA, try flaxseed, walnuts, canola oil and tofu.
If you've tried changing your diet and you're not feeling better, there may be other factors at play - it's always worth seeing someone for peace of mind, and suggestions that are tailored to your physical and emotional needs. If you'd like to come in and see me for a chat, you can contact me here.