When Alice, in "Alice in Wonderland," downed the "Eat Me" pill, she immediately experienced the negative side effects of taking a med with unidentified ingredients! But her added inches (and distress) were for entertainment. When someone with a low- or hypothyroid condition takes an online or over-the-counter "thyroid booster," they're risking side effects that are as dramatic as Alice's and a whole lot more serious - because they're real.
Nonprescription, unregulated "thyroid supplements" can contain things like bladderwort (with unknown biochemical effects), ashwagandha (claims to ease chronic fatigue and low libido) or gugulipids (to support the thyroid through the liver ... hmmm?) or ingredients that are downright illegal. A new study shows they often contain excessive levels of thyroid hormones (not listed on the label).
If you're on thyroid hormone replacement therapy (for Hashimoto's, for example), the addition of more hormone can trigger hyper-, or overactive, thyroid and you can damage your heart and bones. Even if the "boosters" don't contain thyroid hormones, their ingredients may interfere with your prescribed treatment.
Our advice: Feeling sluggish, gaining weight? Ask your doc for thyroid blood tests (for TSH and free T4). Knock the Five Food Felons out of your diet and start a walking program aiming for 10,000 steps daily. Then you'll feel more energetic and have a younger RealAge.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com. Distributed by King Features Syndicate Inc.