According to the American Thyroid Association, more than 12 percent of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime. That’s a whole lot of Americans that might just have thyroid symptoms triggered by a nutrient imbalance brought on by under-eating, low-carb dieting, supplement use and eating too much processed food, all of which is completely preventable! 
Do you have any of these thyroid symptoms? This includes:
- Weight gain/inability to lose weight
- Dry skin
- Sluggish, lack of initiative
- Chronic constipation
- Poor digestion
- SAD Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder
- Easily fatigued, sleepy
- Poor circulation
- Cold hands and feet
- Hair loss
- Waking body temperature of under 97.8 degrees
- Hormonal imbalance
- High cholesterol
Several years ago in my nutrition studies, I learned about the mineral balance needed to support optimal thyroid health, namely calcium and potassium. These two super-important minerals must be in good balance with each other, but it’s something that I rarely see when working with my clients experiencing thyroid symptoms.
So, if you’re dealing with these thyroid symptoms, the first line of nutritional and in this case mineral defense, may be getting your calcium and potassium levels back in balance!
If you don’t know your calcium and potassium levels, you may want to. It’s pretty easy to find out with Hair Analysis plans starting at only $119.
Alright, so we need proper balance between calcium and potassium (a.k.a. the thyroid ratio in hair analysis) to support optimal thyroid health from the mineral perspective, but the common American lifestyle compounds this problem twofold — forcing calcium level too high (often by supplementing too much vitamin D), and potassium levels too low.
This makes the thyroid ratio go waaaaaaaay out of balance, and chances are, you may be familiar with the way that makes you feel.
You see, calcium slows things down in the body if you have too much of it, but high calcium levels are now commonplace due to Vitamin D supplementation. In short, it’s often not from eating too much calcium-rich food, but instead a product of vitamin D supplementation. Vitamin D supplements tell your gut to absorb more calcium from your food than you would otherwise. The even worse supplement combination would be supplementing high amounts of vitamin D and calcium at the same time.
According to Trace Element Lab, “The inhibitory action of calcium on the thyroid has been suspected since the last century, but more recent studies have confirmed its effects. It is known that calcium decreases thyroid activity and that calcium absorption is increased in thyroid insufficiency. Vitamin D would also be considered to contribute to lowered thyroid function due to its close, synergistic relationship to calcium.” 
Signs of Calcium excess
Some signs of high calcium are:
- aches and pains in back and joints
- poor appetite
- increased thirst
- frequent urination ,
Now that it’s clear that vitamin D supplementation can cause elevated calcium levels, which negatively impacts thyroid health and the thyroid ratio, it’s time to get into the other part of this equation — potassium.
Low Potassium Levels Are Common
Potassium deficiency is rampant. You see, potassium is widely found in fruits, vegetables, and animal proteins, but most people just aren’t getting enough. It’s an epidemic, and often I can easily trace back low potassium levels in my clients to one or many of the following: under-eating, low-carb dieting, supplement excess, chronic stress, and eating too much processed food, all of which are completely reversible.
Signs of Potassium Deficiency
- Weakness, tiredness, or cramping in arm or leg muscles
- Numbness and/or tingling
- Excess water consumption
- Nausea or vomiting
- Mental impairment
- Abdominal cramping and/or bloating
- Fainting due to low blood pressure
- Heart palpitations (irregular heart beat)
These signs of potassium deficiency are strikingly similar to those of hypothyroidism. I don’t find this too surprising, considering self-induced hypothyroidism is a real issue, and it is common among those who have a history of dieting or excessive exercise habits. It is especially problematic in both paleo and low carb diets because they restrict potassium intake by limiting potassium rich fruits, fresh juices, and starchy vegetables.
Of course, there are other reasons your potassium can be low. Certain medications such as diuretics, laxatives, aspirin, certain types of antibiotics, blood pressure lowering drugs, bronchodilators, and steroids can lower potassium levels. It can also be caused by a magnesium deficiency.
Now that it’s clear high calcium levels and low potassium levels are not optimal for thyroid health, let’s fix the problem!
How to fix the calcium/potassium ratio to support thyroid health
Fixing the thyroid ratio is easier than you think and involves just two simple steps:
1) If you have high calcium levels, work on bringing them down.
This is pretty easy. If you have high calcium levels and have a history of taking vitamin D supplements (even if it’s historic use ie. years ago). It might be a good time to reconsider, especially if you have been self-administering it, and not working with a doctor or practitioner who is testing you regularly to keep an eye on your vitamin D levels.
It’s worth noting, that there is a lot more to look at with vitamin D deficiency than just needing a supplement. You can read more here, but here are some of the highlights or things that are linked to vitamin D deficiency:
- low magnesium intake
- vitamin c deficiency
- low boron levels
- glyphosate exposure (ie. eating non-organic foods)
From my approach, I’d rather address the above first, and work on getting some sun exposure before popping a supplement that could negative impact the thyroid’s ability to do its job.
2) If you have low potassium levels, work on bringing them up.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for potassium is 4,700 mg. Here’s a few ideas on how to start boosting your potassium intake starting now:
Sources of Potassium
Celery Juice (12 oz): about 1,000-1,200mg
White Beans (1 cup): 1,004mg
Potato (1 medium with skin): 926mg
Avocado (1 medium): 689mg
Coconut Water (1 cup): 600mg
Raisins (1/2 cup): 598mg
Prune Juice (6oz): 528mg
Halibut (3oz): 490mg
Acorn Squash (1/2 cup, cubed): 448mg
Banana (1 medium): 422
Orange Juice (6oz): 372mg
Molasses (1 tb): 293mg
Orange (1 medium): 237mg
Kiwi (1 medium) 237mg
Spinach (1/2 cup cooked): 420mg
Date (1 piece): 167mg
Give your body what it needs and watch it respond
I hope this article helps point out that there are always things that you can address nutritionally to support thyroid health, fatigue, and weight issues before going on a diet that doesn’t have your best interest in mind (<— a great read on why I stopped working with weight loss clients).
In order to really get to the bottom of thyroid symptoms, you must focus on health as your number one priority. Only then does your body find your ideal weight as a natural byproduct of becoming the healthiest version of you.
The first line of defense against thyroid symptoms should be a good nutritional foundation!
1. American Thyroid Association. Prevalence and Impact of Thyroid Disease. 2014. Retrieved on April 13, 2014 from http://www.thyroid.org/media-main/about-hypothyroidism/