Beware Before Taking Thyroid Supplements

When Alice, in Alice in Wonderland, downed the “Eat Me” pill, she immediately experienced the negative side effects of taking a med with unidentified ingredients! But her added inches -- and distress -- were for entertainment. When someone with a low or hypothyroid condition takes an online or over-the-counter “thyroid booster”, they’re risking side effects that are as dramatic as Alice’s and a whole lot more serious--because they're real!

Related: Is your thyroid making you fat?

Non-prescription, unregulated “thyroid supplements” can contain things like bladderwort (with unknown biochemical effects), ashwagandha (claims to ease chronic fatigue and low libido), or gugulipids (to support the thyroid through the liver -- hmm?) or ingredients that are downright illegal. A new study shows they often contain excessive levels of thyroid hormones (not listed on the label).

If you’re on thyroid hormone replacement therapy (for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, for example), the addition of MORE hormone can trigger HYPER or overactive thyroid and you can damage your heart and bones. Even if the “boosters” don’t contain thyroid hormones, their ingredients may interfere with your prescribed treatment.

Related: Learn about the causes of hyperthyroidism.

Some folks take these boosters because they self-diagnose (never smart) and don’t get safe, effective treatment for real thyroid problems or they don’t admit their physical symptoms actually come from an unhealthy diet and too little physical activity.

Our advice: Feeling sluggish, gaining weight? Ask your doc for thyroid blood tests (for TSH and free T4). Knock the Five Food Felons out of your diet and start a walking program, aiming for 10,000 steps daily. Then you’ll feel more energetic and have a younger RealAge.

Related: Find out the true age of your body. Take the RealAge® Test.