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Readers Respond: The Pros and Cons of Soy Foods and Supplements for Thyroid Patients

Responses: 205

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Updated May 21, 2009

YES to Soy!

I am a clinical nutritionist/therapist who specializes in thyroid disease, depression etc. I am a consultant to medical doctors teaching them Functional Medicine, have been medical director of several nutrition companies and laboratories. I also have Hashimotos Thyroditis and use soy products daily. I have not found any problems with thyroid and soy in my research or use of soy products. NONE..think about this caveat: the asian countries that have soy as a major component in their diet do not have thyroid disease and cancer at such and epidemic proportion as the USA....this realization alone warrants further research.
—Guest Judith W.

Thumbs Down on Soy

Many people with Hashimoto's also have insulin resistance, diabetes, or PCOS. Soy contains phytoestrogens that make these conditions worse. I find it hard to imagine eating lots of soy could be healthy for anyone since it seems to cause hormonal changes. Thyroid problems and the amount of medication someone needs are definitely affected by hormones. It's too bad though because many energy products and lower carb products contain soy. The sound healthy but I do not think they are in the quantities Americans eat. I don't eat soy any longer except the occasional tofu in a restaurant meal. I consider soy a treat not a staple.
—Guest LAWolfe

Is Soy the Culprit?

I read about the benefits of soy for relieving menopause symptoms and therefore drank a soy protein powder mixed with water every day. After a couple years of this, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, and have since tested positive for Hashimoto's. About a year after my diagnosis, I read about the effects of soy on the thyoid and stopped the soy. I believe the daily soy intake may have contributed to this condition I will now live with for the rest of my life. I wish I had read about soy and thyroid sooner!
—Guest Barb

Soy in Moderation

I drink at least three soy protein shakes a day to prevent weight gain. (Believe me it is the only thing that has worked.) I am 55 years old and have had hypothyroidism for 15 years. I usually take Synthroid (100 mcg) every day at 7:30 am and do not drink a soy protein shake until 12:30 pm. (That equates to at least 4-5 hours after taking my thyroid med.) This seems to work very well for me. However, if I eat any foods that affect the thyroid such as cabbage, peaches, and etc. or that contain soy lecithin in the ingredients, I notice the change immediately! I usually prepare all foods from scratch because soy is an ingredient in most foods found in the grocery stores today including those that claim to be organic. I have also noticed that some multivitamins now include soy as well. Just to be on the safe side, at bedtime, I take 1 cod liver oil gel cap and a multi-vitamin. Soy is all around us...thyroid patients have to find a way to deal with soy in moderation!
—Guest Jan B.

You be the judge...

The year before I was initially diagnosed with Hashimotos's disease, my TSH was tested and was found to be at 3 which at the time (in 1998) they told me was normal. I started school the beginning of 1999 and began consuming soy nuts daily because of the protein quality and had heard that soy was good for you. A few months later I started having palpitations and went to a cardiologist who checked my thyroid levels. My TSH had risen to 27 in less than one year! That's when I was officially diagnosed with Hashimoto's. I started reading Mary Shomon's site and learned about soy and goitrenic foods. I am totally convinced that it was the soy nuts that raised my TSH so high!
—PokeyP

some soy a problem

Trial and error helped me find my "soy limit". I can tolerate a little tofu in a Chinese restaurant, tempeh within limits, but cannot do soy type supplements at all. I am also careful of soy-based meat substitutes, which evidently are much too much soy at one time. Any excess in soy consumption makes me feel as if I have not taken my thyroid meds. Not a pleasant feeling. So I am very careful. But also try not to be paranoid about it. But I was a vegetarian when diagnosed with Hashimoto's. Five years into treatment I now find that I must eat fish a few times a week in order to get the protein that I need or my hair falls out again. It is a tightrope that we walk, isn't it?
—cjewriter

Soy and me

I ate a fair amount of soy before I read that it could interfere with my thyroid med. I ate Boca Burgers as a meat substitute, and I actually like tofu and would grill it or use it as a meat substitute as well. Once I cut it out entirely I've actually felt much better - less logy and with a bit more energy and a slightly clearer head. This has led me to become much more aware of 'goitrogenic' foods, and I find this has helped with my symptoms of fatigue and general grogginess quite a bit. All this thanks to Mary Shomon's web site - can't tell you how much I appreciate your work and how much it's helped me in managing my hypothyroidism. Keep up the good work!
—Guest I hate my thyroid

soy and my family

In 1993 my two children who were 1 and 5, having had multiple ear infections were diagnosed as having allergy to milk...of course we took their advice and turned to non-dairy diet and soy. We did it as a family because it was just easier than having two different diet meals in one house. I became pregnant with our third child in 1994. We stayed off of milk/dairy for 3 years. In the past three years (2006-2009) we have all five been diagnosed hypothyroid. My husband and oldest daughter had benign masses on their thyroid. All of us have enlarged thyroid with visible changes on an ultrasound. We all have "normal" TSH with the old lab value systems. All of us have abnormal TPO antibodies of way over 100. Gotta wonder if it was the soy as that is all we have in common. I am the only one who is over weight and I am not obese...the other 5 are lean and athletic. I feel cheated by soy and the hype regarding soy.
—Guest cathasson@aol.com

Soy is a nightmare

25 percent of the people in the US are allergic to soy. My mother-in-law, all her children, grandchildren and great grands are also allergic. If you read labels you know that soy hides as veg broth, modified protein and lecithin. We try to be soy free at our house and I have a non functioning thyroid gland. I would not put soy in my diet. It does some bad things to some people so be careful.
—Guest Dottie

Went Vegetarian....oops

I have a similar story to most of those who have posted. Last April, after surgery to remove some cancerous cells, I quit smoking, started working out several times a week, and cut dairy and meat out of my diet. I felt great for a month- and that is the last time I felt energetic and "normal." In a matter of three months, my energy completely crashed so that I could not get out of bed on weekends and I gained 45 lbs. My doctor said it was depression, but I disagreed and had her test my thyroid. I now have Hashimoto's and am hypothyroid. I at least have lost 10 lbs (after it went up even further), and am very aware of when I choose to eat soy - which is rarely. I have tried to stay away from processed foods completely since most of them have soy oil in them. I didn't eat much of them to begin with, luckily. This makes me wonder if the soy additives are also attributing to the increase in obesity. It would sort of make sense.
—Guest Bonnie

Soy Negates the Thyroid Medications

I am hypothyroid and if I consume soy - the first time it was soy energy shakes -- I have all the symptoms I would have if I wasn't taking thyroid medication. NOT a good thing.
—Guest Terry mull

soy and thyroid

I am a patient who has been ignored by various doctors for years. I come from a family with a strong line of Hashimoto's. This fall, I had my second bout of acute thyroiditis. I had a golf ball sized lump on my thyroid which seemed to be the worst in the evening. Speaking was painful. I was so exhausted I could barely function and I gained 14 pounds. My doctor seemed to think I was just lazy, lying on the couch eating fattening foods. I am a vegetarian and I am also a hiker, skier, swimmer and I live on a farm where I do all of the work myself. I was shocked when she asked if I ate a lot of pork and fried foods. This not being the first doctor to ignore me I felt I must try something. I switched from a soy latte in the morning to rice milk. My weight began to drift downwards without trying. I am now on a successful diet and losing weight. I feel that soy did at least make my situation worse and it is worthwhile to withdraw it from your diet for a month or two to see if it helps.
—Guest lynn

happened to me

I went thru a period of eating dry roasted soy nuts. I was light headed and teary, emotional. After three days of not eating my healthy snack, and lots of water, my personality reappeared. The soy was masking my Synthroid and I was so imbalanced.
—IH8This

My Soy Experience

I struggled for 2 years gaining weight and not knowing why. A doctor suspected thyroid, tested my levels and put me on a beginning does of Synthroid. With no discussion, other than don't eat 1/2 hour after the dose, I went about my routine. Trying to lose weight, I took my Synthroid, waited 1/2 hour and then had a big, healthy Kashi Go Lean smoothie. (Soy Protein). It boasts 21 grams of protein all from soy protein concentrate. The doctor took my levels in 30 days and raised my Synthroid dosage. It was during this time I researched on the web and quit drinking soy smoothies. Amazing how much better the Synthroid worked without them! On another note: I dropped that doctor when he refused to check my free T3 and T4 levels and seemed indifferent to the fact I was not feeling better even after medication. I now have another doctor, take Armour and eat per South Beach diet. I'm losing weight and feeling amazingly better. After years of no energy, it is great to be back!
—Crave_Health

That's why I'm so tired!

I have been taking a diet drink this week a friend gave me. I couldn't figure out why I have been extremely tired. Well, the drink mix is soy! It's good to know the answer to why I have been so exhausted this week. I will stop drinking that soy today!
—Guest Blondgray1

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The Pros and Cons of Soy Foods and Supplements for Thyroid Patients

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