If iron interferes with your thyroid function or thyroid meds, you might need zinc

After I started taking the Armour Thyroid to treat hypothyroid symptoms — including that lovely one where your hair feels like there’s an electric current going through it — I quickly realized that the 50 mg of iron I was taking every day for my abysmally low ferritin levels was making things worse. (Armour is a prescription medication of desiccated pig thyroid, a type of preparation that has been used since the 1890s.) Even if I separated the doses by the requisite four hours or stopped taking the Armour altogether, I got more hypo-T symptoms — low mood, cold, fatigue, and insomnia.

Taking the Armour only fixed the symptoms to a certain point because of the low ferritin (which was at 6 for several years before any so-called health practitioner bothered to call my attention to it), but I couldn’t take iron to get rid of the rest of the symptoms or it would wipe out all the progress I’d made with the Armour. It was, I remember thinking every other day, like trying to get out of a parking spot in San Francisco on a Friday night — back an inch, hit the bumper, turn the wheel, forward an inch, hit the bumper.

Eventually I figured out that iron lowers zinc and a zinc deficiency can affect thyroid function. I took 50 mg of zinc for several months, then a little less for the rest of the year. After a few months, my mood no longer tanked when I ate dairy (oxalates in dairy will bind to zinc and hinder its absorption). It also solved the iron problem.

Sadly, I still couldn’t take as much Armour as I needed because my adrenals were trashed. Luckily, you can now find much better knowledge and guidance for these sorts of conundrums — see the Stop the Thyroid Madness website to start.

After 18 months on Armour I got sick of the whole thing and started calling acupuncturists all over the Eastern seaboard looking for someone with hardcore-enough training to do medical acupuncture on the thyroid. To my surprise I found someone 30 minutes away. After nine weeks and maybe 14 sessions with him, my test results came back within the newly revised, more accurate normal lab ranges. I stopped the Armour and haven’t felt any hypo-T symptoms since, knock on wood. My low zinc symptoms show up occasionally but they are unmistakably different from the lawdy!-my-thyroid symptoms — mostly low mood and $#@! irritability.

3 thoughts on “If iron interferes with your thyroid function or thyroid meds, you might need zinc

  • Karen Gardner

    Read some of your blog and found your articles helpful. I had my thyroid removed in 2000 and take Armour Thyroid and did well for 13 years but now not so well. I get brain fog and have found that sucking on a zinc lozenge helps relieve that. I also take fish oil. Vit C Vit E and Dhea 10mg compounded time release helps perk me up and lifts mood and headaches. I take cinnamon capsules to help lower blood sugar and helps with nausea. I eat low carb and don t have much appetite. I take Selenium in the late afternoon and that lifts my mood also. It s frustrating that Armour made me feel so good for years and now I m a mess. I tried all the other NDT meds and Armour still works the best for me even though they changed formula. Now I have to take blood pressure med. Enalapril 15mg take before bed because it makes me sluggish and down. I am 68 now. I tried natural ways to lower blood pressure Garlic Baby Aspirin they help but not enoough. I always had low blood pressure. Think it has something to do with Cortisol being high in am. I can t handle the meds they prescribe for this Phosphylserine. Seriphos but Vit C and Zinc help. I took my granddaughter school shopping yesterday and today I am a mess. Brain fog no energy. Any ideas on what I can do. Thanks.

    • Marjorie

      I’m afraid I don’t have much to offer. I send most thyroid inquiries to the Stop the Thyroid Madness site, but it sounds like you’ve been there. The only thing I can think of is to investigate the iodine angle, which takes a big leap of faith since very large amounts are advocated. I do not know how it works in people without a thyroid, but perhaps the NDT needs iodine to work. Some references are on this page: http://www.adnuther.com/iodine-diary/

      It sounds as if several of the NDT formulations have stopped working for people. That is disturbing.

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