Friday, August 20, 2010

Diet and the Thyroid-Fertility Connection

If you missed our TCM/TV webinar on Eating for Fertility, you can still watch it here (it will open in a new window and start to play):

Finally, we'll be going on vacation to Costa Rica soon. Can't wait! We definitely could use a nice, relaxing break. Look to catching up with you when we get back (although I'll still be posting here).

We are honored today to have our advisory board member, Karen Reynolds, L.Ac., M.S., R.N., of Balanced Restored Center, write a guest blog for us on the topic of thyroid function, how it impacts fertility, and the dietary solutions that can make the difference. This is part 3 of a 3-part series.

Part 1: Hashimoto's Disease
Part 2: Hypothyroidism
Part 3: Dietary changes and supplements to support women's thyroids (posted here!)

PART 3: Here is Karen's blog post.
In Parts I & II, I discussed the typical signs and symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease, hypothyroidism, the biophysiology of these instances, and some helpful lab tests used to evaluate your thyroid function.
This section will give you some practical nutritional and supplemental tips to support your thyroid function and in turn your fertility.

As I’ve noted in Parts I and II, one of the biggest, life long practices, which benefits your fertility health, your immune system and your thyroid health, is to cut gluten out of your diet. The amazing and wonderful thing about our modern world is there are so many quality, gluten-free alternatives easily available. One of my patients recently traveled to Nigeria and she even found gluten-free bakeries and alternatives there! Next time you are in a restaurant, ask if they have a gluten-free menu. You may be surprised to find that more and more establishments are providing gluten-free options. One local pizzeria in my town even has a gluten-free pie and gluten-free beer.

I love Tinkyada brown rice pastas. These products are readily available online and in most health food stores. The consistency and flavor is practically seamless compared with traditional wheat based pasta.

Next I want to discuss some basic and inexpensive supplements that benefit everyone not just women seeking to fall pregnant. However, if pregnancy is your goal, this is important.

A majority of today’s population is Vitamin D deficient. We tend to think of Vitamin D as necessary in the body for strong bones. This is true. However Vitamin D is vital for immune health, reducing inflammation, and helping to regulate how certain genes are activated or inactivated in the body. How does this affect you and your fertility?

As I discussed in Part I, Hashimoto’s disease of thyroid is an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune issues of all types are greatly influenced by challenges to the immune system and levels of inflammation in the body. Having adequate Vitamin D in your body will temper autoimmune flares, support your immune system and help to lower inflammation. In essence it will allow your system to go about the business of baby making as opposed to putting out fires. Acupuncture, which is my specialty, is also known to reduce inflammation and improve immune status. Combining acupuncture with diet and life style changes greatly enhances your fertility.

In my acupuncture fertility practice, I routinely check and monitor Vitamin D levels. This is easy, inexpensive and vital for your health. The Vitamin D council recommends maintaining a serum Vitamin D level of 50-80ng/L and supplementing each day with 4,000-5,000 IU/day of cholecalciferol. Avoid ergocalciferol as studies show that it is not effective in raising Vitamin D levels. For more information, see

Listed below are some foods naturally highest in Vitamin D. You can incorporate these selections into your daily diet to improve your Vitamin D intake.
  • Mushrooms, potatoes, spinach
  • Vitamin D fortified orange juice
  • Soymilk
  • Herring catfish, mollusks oysters, salmon, halibut
  • Col liver oil, sardine oil.
My recommendations for my patients diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease include daily:
  • Vitamin D supplementation
  • Fish oils
  • Glutathione (topical cream)
  • Superoxide dismutase (topical cream)
  • Gluten-free diet
Note: You can also get vitamin D from sunshine. Twenty minutes in bright sunshine (without sunscreen) yields about 10,000 IU. However, if you are at high risk for skin cancer or have fair skin, this is not a good option. Check with your dermatologist for concerns about the sun’s harmful effects on the skin. I have found that most people don’t get enough sun exposure and require supplementation.

I have greatly enjoyed sharing this information and I look forward to providing you with future posts. In my acupuncture clinic, I specialize in the treatment of fertility of both men and women, women’s health, and functional endocrinology. More of my fertility patients have thyroid issues than those who do not; so this is a treatment passion of mine. Drawing from my 20 years of experience as an ICU RN, I make extensive use of lab testing. I also utilize acupuncture, antioxidants, dietary changes and nutritional supplementation to optimize health, wellness and vitality for the amazing women and men who I have the great honor to treat.

If you have questions, please feel free to contact me at:

600 Miller Avenue
Mill Valley, CA 94941
Ring: 415.381.8500 Ext. 4

See my blog for additional information.

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