What exactly is selenium and what does it have to do with my thyroid? There is a lot of medical terminology that could go into this blog, but I am going to try and keep it as simple as possible. Selenium is a trace mineral, also known as an element that is required for nutrition. It plays a vital role in thyroid function, along with other functions of the body. The pituitary gland is a tiny organ located below the brain and one of its roles is to produce and release the hormone TSH, thyroid-stimulating hormone. TSH tells or stimulates the thyroid to start making the thyroid hormones, T4 and T3. This process naturally creates a lot of oxidation and inflammation in our body, but thankfully we have a few antioxidant enzymes that help combat that and contain that oxidation. Glutathione is the most powerful antioxidant molecule we have and for our body to be able to make it, we need an enzyme called glutathione peroxidase (GPx) and thyroid oxidoreductase. Don't get caught up on the big words, just know that both of these are oxidation scavengers (antioxidants) and they are dependent on selenium. They help to contain the high oxidation that the T4 and T3 production releases. Another enzyme that is crucial in changing T4 to T3 is DIO. This enzyme relies on selenium as well.
Selenium is probably the most important contributor to the normal function of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland actually has more selenium per gram than any other organ in the body. It has to be present for all of those enzymes to work properly in the process, production, and release of thyroid hormones.
If you are deficient in selenium or other nutrients we have to ask ourselves why, there has to be a reason. We may not be eating the proper foods or maybe there is something preventing us from absorbing it from the foods we eat. A culprit could be celiac disease, it deteriorates the microvilli in the small intestines, which compromises the bodies ability to absorb nutrients.
What to take away:
References/ Additional Resources:
How Important is Selenium for Thyroid Function (YouTube Video)
Essential Nutrients for Thyroid Function: By Dr. Scott Beyer.
Infertility is a sensitive and delicate subject and affects about 10% of the population (6.1 million Americans). I don't take it lightly, and I have compassion for the pain that it brings to so many women. My goal here is not to give false hope, but at the same time provide you with information that shows there are direct links with infertility and gluten. I want to be very clear that not all infertility issues are directly related to gluten, but for those who bare the struggle of not being able to conceive, this may be an option to try or at the very least investigate.
Multiple medical studies date all the way back to the 1980s that show the link between infertility and celiac disease. This article, Coeliac Disease, Fertility, and Pregnancy, from 1982 is a prime example. It shows the difference between celiac disease patients that follow a regular diet (not gluten-free) are relatively infertile, while celiac disease patients that follow a gluten-free diet show no difficulty getting pregnant.
There is another study from 1988, Adult Coeliac Disease Presenting with Infertility, this is a case study on a 21-year old that had been attempting to conceive and was unsuccessful. She had presented with no other symptoms then unexplained anemia (low iron), that was recurrent. Due to the anemia, they did further testing and eventually diagnosed her with celiac disease. After attempting to conceive for a total of three years with only two months of a gluten-free diet, she conceived and had a perfectly healthy baby.
Another medical study, Increased Prevalence of Celiac Disease in Patients with Unexplained Infertility in the United States: A Prospective Study, revealed that celiac disease plays a role with infertility. Out of the 188 patients that completed the study, 51 patients had unexplained infertility. The other 137 patients had other factors (i.e., endometriosis, ovarian dysfunction, etc.) that could be the culprit. Almost 6% of the patients who exhibited unexplained infertility were diagnosed with celiac disease. All four of those patients went on a gluten-free diet, and all four conceived within a year. Additionally, 8 patients were positive with the serologic testing (blood testing), but never underwent the endoscopy and were advised to follow-up with a gastroenterologist.
There are plenty more studies that support the link between unexplained infertility and celiac disease. I want to be very clear that this is not the case for everyone that is infertile, but when you have gone to specialists, and they don't have any reason as to why you can't conceive, gluten could be the culprit. So many women suffer from infertility and long for the day that they can conceive. If you have unexplained infertility, a viable option is a gluten-free lifestyle. Infertility can be the result of nutritional deficiencies, those include:
The Chicago Medical Center: Celiac Disease Center states, "610,000 women in the US experience unexplained infertility; 6% (36,600) of these women might never learn that celiac disease is the cause." Also, they state, "in the landmark prevalence study on celiac disease, investigators determined that 60% of children and 41% of adults diagnosed during the study were asymptomatic (without any symptoms)." This tells us you don't have to have symptoms to have celiac disease or gluten intolerance. I decided to write on this topic to bring awareness and that maybe there are women who are trying to conceive that will read this and benefit from it. If you are battling with any symptoms, including infertility, I strongly encourage you to keep searching, be your own advocate, don't take no for an answer, and don't give up.
There is a diagram created by Dr. Peter Osborne to illustrate the numerous nutritional deficiencies that can contribute to infertility. It helps you identify how many factors play into the role of conception and helps you understand how many other factors in your life celiac disease may be affecting in your life. You can click HERE to view the diagram.
Hello, my name is Rachel. I am a wife, mother of four beautiful children, and a registered nurse. I have a passion for educating people on nutrition. I strive to "Put life back into your lifestyle," by connecting you to the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding gluten-free living and other topics on nutrition. Check out my blog, website, and feel free to drop me a line!