Antioxidants aid thyroid disease

Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes the excess production of thyroid hormones, or hyperthyroidism. Symptoms include fatigue, weight loss, anxiety and high blood pressure. Goiters and damage to the eyes and skin are also common. Women are most prone to Graves’, especially those aged 20 to 40 with a history of thyroid conditions, or who have recently given birth.

Research suggests that antioxidants may play a role in the management of Graves’ because hyperthyroidism may be linked to an increase in free radical activity. Croatian researchers studied the effects of antioxidants in the treatment of Graves’, and found that beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, and selenium have significant benefits. For this study, researchers monitored the activity of a selenium-containing enzyme called glutathione peroxidase (GP) that acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells from free radical damage. The activity of GP and the levels of selenium and thyroid hormones were measured before, during and after the trial.

The results showed that patients who received antioxidants in addition to their usual medication balanced their thyroid faster than the patients treated with medication only. The levels of selenium in the patients taking antioxidants increased significantly during treatment, while there was no significant change in the placebo group. The activity of GP increased in both groups but midway through the trial was statistically more significant in the group taking antioxidants.

Source: Clin Chim Acta. 2004 Mar;341(1-2):55-63