5 Ways Heavy Metals Interfere With Thyroid


Heavy metal exposure is one of the most overlooked causes of thyroid imbalance, and it’s much more common than you may think. 

Even the most wary consumer is likely ingesting higher levels of heavy metals than they’re aware of due to the sheer amount of metals that are contaminating our environment. As a result, all kinds of hormonal imbalances and health concerns are arising, with the thyroid being no exception. 

In fact, subclinical thyroid imbalances affect up to 8% of the population, and you can bet that heavy metals contribute significantly to that number[1]. 

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • The important role that your thyroid plays in your health, growth, and metabolism
  • Signs of thyroid imbalance to look out for
  • Which heavy metals are the most damaging to this vital gland
  • How heavy metals can deplete your thyroids resources, interfere with their function, and damage the delicate hormonal balance in your body
  • A simple yet powerful way to help your body rid itself of heavy metals and optimize thyroid function

What Is The Thyroid and Why Is It Important?

Your thyroid gland synthesizes and directs thyroid hormones, which play a crucial role in several aspects of growth, development, and metabolism. 

From a metabolic standpoint, when your thyroid is active, it pushes your cells to work harder at their jobs, increasing their energy utilization. This can look like:

  • Increased body temperature
  • Faster heart rate and pulse
  • Enhanced breakdown of stored energy from food
  • Increased movement of food through your digestive tract
  • Activation of the nervous system to improve concentration and heighten your reflexes

Meanwhile, your thyroid also has a hand in the growth and development of the brain and body, especially in children[2]. 

Your thyroid produces three different hormones (T4, T3, and calcitonin) to carry out its jobs. While T3 and T4 are primarily focused on metabolism and development, calcitonin is responsible for how your body utilizes the mineral calcium.

Your thyroid interacts with several organ systems, each of which has its own thyroid hormone receptors. As your thyroid produces T4 directly, certain cells in your body transform T4 into T3, a more active form of the hormone. T3 can then be used by the following organs and systems[3]:

  • Liver
  • Kidneys
  • Muscles
  • Pituitary gland 
  • Brown adipose tissue
  • Central nervous system
  • And the thyroid itself

Signs of Thyroid Dysfunction

Since your thyroid’s primary responsibility is to keep your metabolism humming, many initial signs of thyroid imbalance involve changes in weight and the way your body processes food and energy.

An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) may present as[4]: 

  • Weight gain
  • Constipation 
  • Fatigue
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Depression
  • Brain fog
  • Muscle aches and weakness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dry skin and hair
  • Brittle nails
  • Loss of libido 
  • Irregular or heavy periods
  • Numbness or tingling in hands 

On the other hand, an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) has the opposite effect, presenting as:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Nervousness and anxiety 
  • Irritability
  • Hyperactivity
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling tired but wired
  • Sensitivity to heat and excessive sweating
  • Diarrhea 
  • Excessive urination
  • Persistent thirst
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Twitching or trembling
  • Irregular heart rate

While there are several causes of thyroid imbalance, one of the most overlooked is heavy metal exposure. 

5 Ways Heavy Metals Interfere With Thyroid Function

#1 Reduced TSH Production 

Your pituitary gland releases thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) to stimulate your thyroid’s production of T4. Many people who experience subclinical thyroid issues have imbalances in TSH for months or even years before they finally get thyroid hormone testing. 

While your thyroid controls your metabolism, your pituitary gland controls your thyroid. Therefore, if your pituitary notices that thyroid activity is out of whack, it will directly modulate TSH to enhance or downregulate thyroid hormone production. In this way, you can think of the pituitary as the overseer of your thyroid gland and TSH as its direct manager[5]. 

Studies show that the heavy metal mercury can disrupt the production of TSH from your pituitary, which in turn dysregulates the function of your thyroid gland. Both the thyroid and pituitary glands have a high affinity for mercury accumulation, which, unfortunately, makes them exceptionally vulnerable to heavy metal toxicity[6].

As such, studies also indicate that damage to the thyroid gland caused by mercury could interrupt thyroid hormone production, instigating an increase in TSH from the pituitary in an effort to pick up the slack. 

Either way, mercury seems to dysregulate TSH production and may directly or indirectly interfere with T4 and T3 synthesis[7]. 

#2 Dysregulated Deiodination 

Deiodination is the process by which an iodine atom is removed from thyroid hormone, converting T4 into the more active form T3. This process can also be reversed, deactivating thyroid hormones when too many are already in circulation. 

Deiodination is carried out by enzymes called deiodinases and serves an essential function in alerting your body and its various tissues as to how much active thyroid hormone is in circulation[8]. Therefore, having properly functioning deiodination is a cornerstone of thyroid hormone balance.

Unfortunately, this is yet another process in which heavy metals can interfere. For example, research shows that cadmium and mercury may inhibit deiodination, possibly by blocking the receptor sites necessary to carry out this reaction[9]. 

#3 Excessive Thyroid Hormone Production 

Your body actually needs some metals in order to maintain proper function. Copper, for instance, is necessary for the production of T4. However, research shows that too much copper may instigate hyperthyroidism by pushing your thyroid to make too much thyroid hormone[10]. 

As mentioned, excessive thyroid hormone production can result in various issues, including anxiety, irritability, insomnia, excessive urination and sweating, excessive thirst, irregular heartbeat, unexplained weight loss, and more. 

Therefore, keeping this mineral in balance is crucial for the healthy function of your thyroid. Unfortunately, you can be exposed to copper in excessive amounts through corrosive drinking water, pesticides, and even some nutritional supplements[11]. Copper can also become unbalanced if you’re zinc deficient.

Beyond the impact on thyroid hormones, excessive copper exposure can lead to cellular damage that impacts several biological systems[12].

#4 Depleted Selenium

As mentioned, mercury has a particular affinity for your thyroid tissue, and even more specifically, it appears that mercury has an even higher affinity for the mineral selenium[13]. 

Your thyroid contains the highest amount of selenium per gram of tissue than any other organ in your body. And unsurprisingly, selenium plays several roles in thyroid health and function, including:

Supporting thyroid antioxidant defense. Specifically, selenium is incorporated into proteins called selenoproteins, which neutralize free radicals generated during the production of thyroid hormones.   

Selenium is also incorporated into deiodinases, which, as mentioned previously, are necessary for converting T4 to the more active form of thyroid hormone, T3[14]. 

Studies also show that in people with hyperthyroidism (Graves’ disease), supplementing with selenium can help to normalize hormone levels. In Graves’, people typically make too much T3 and T4 while displaying lower levels of TSH. In a systematic review and meta-analysis of over 700 patients with Graves’ disease, selenium supplementation effectively reduced T3 and T4 while increasing TSH[15].

Unfortunately, when mercury binds to selenium, it renders this mineral useless, and your thyroid and its hormonal production suffer.

#5 Interference With Your Adrenals  

Nothing in your body happens in a vacuum, and this is especially true of your hormonal system. 

Heavy metals are known to interfere with adrenal function, which can directly impact the health of your thyroid due to a system known as the OAT axis (ovaries-adrenal-thyroid). You can think of the OAT axis as a three-legged stool. When one leg becomes weak, the other two have to try to balance it out by picking up the slack, which eventually means they get burnt out as well. 

Toxic metals are known to cause functional changes in the adrenal glands, directly impacting their ability to make and utilize hormones[16].

For instance, aluminum and mercury exposure have been identified as potential threats to adrenal function, directly impacting adrenal hormones like cortisol and noradrenaline[17][18].

When adrenal hormones are out of balance, it creates disharmony in the OAT axis, which eventually pushes thyroid hormone production out of balance as well. 

Optimize Your Thyroid By Reducing Your Heavy Metal Burden

Reducing the toxic burden of heavy metals in your body can significantly impact the health and vitality of your thyroid, along with all of your other organ systems. 

With that being said, if you want to make changes in your toxic burden, you need to know how you’re being exposed to metals in the first place. Some of the most common sources of heavy metal exposure include[29][20][21]:

  • Drinking water
  • Produce (via pesticides and contaminated soil)
  • low-quality supplements
  • Cosmetics 

While there are many more potential sources of heavy metals in the environment, these four are a great place to start. 

Drinking Water 

Invest in a high-quality water filter to limit metal exposure in your drinking water. There are plenty of different systems out there with a large price range, but the key is to find one that doesn’t just remove impurities that help the water taste good; you want your filter to remove all the toxicities that come from tap water. 

In addition, when you go out to dinner, always ask if they have filtered or bottled water to offer. The vast majority of restaurants are serving water straight from the tap.


Most conventional produce is sprayed with pesticides to keep the crops strong and healthy. But, unfortunately, pesticides come with a slew of issues – heavy metals being one of them.

Whenever possible, choose organic produce to ensure your fruits and vegetables haven’t been sprayed. To take it up a notch, visit your local farmers market and ask the farmers directly about their practices and the health of their soil.


Supplements are another potential source of heavy metals to be aware of. There are thousands (if not millions) of different supplements on the market, many of which are formulated with low-quality ingredients. As a result, it’s difficult to say which brands are free of metals and which are not unless they specifically state that they test for them. 

With that being said, if you review the company’s practices and stars before your purchase, you should be able to assess their quality standards[22]. 


Cosmetics are often overlooked as a source of heavy metals because they aren’t directly ingested. The truth, however, is that your skin is incredibly porous and absorbs much more than you may think. 

Heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, nickel, and aluminum have all been detected in various cosmetic products[23].

Luckily, there is a growing interest in toxin-free cosmetics and personal care items, which has produced several brands that formulate heavy-metal-free products. Just as you would with supplements, make sure that your cosmetics and personal care products come from brands with high-quality standards that you trust. 

Assist Your Body In Clearing Out Heavy Metals

While reducing your toxic exposure is essential, the reality is that heavy metals are still everywhere in our environment. Unfortunately, this means that even after you take the steps above to mitigate metal exposure, you will still likely ingest heavy metals unknowingly. 

And then there is also the issue of all the metals you’ve already come into contact with throughout your life. Metals don’t easily leave your body, so you may have decades of heavy metal accumulation just sitting in your cells. 

If you have thyroid issues already, even subclinically, it’s time to help your body clear out those toxins and make space for healthy, vital cellular function. 

Detoxing heavy metals can be a bit tricky for a couple of reasons:

  1. Heavy metals can lodge into your cells and tissues and can be challenging to release.
  2. Once they are released from your tissues, you need to make sure they exit your body as quickly as possible so they don’t re-lodge and cause more damage elsewhere.

I had these two factors in mind when I created CitriCleanse.

CitriCleanse is a toxin binder that’s formulated to assist with all phases of your body’s natural release and elimination of contaminants like heavy metals and helps ensure that they are flushed out normally.

With just three high-quality ingredients, CitriCleanse helps your body’s natural detox mechanisms extract pollutants from your cells, gently surround them for removal, and then support the body’s elimination process. 

The ingredients include: 

  • Fulvic and humic acid – rich in minerals that help to push metals out of the body
  • Cilantro extract – supports liver function and specifically targets heavy metals like lead, mercury, arsenic, copper, aluminum, and more.
  • Grapefruit pectin – Binds heavy metals and supports digestion and elimination 

With the help of CitriCleanse, your body can gently release and transport impurities so that they are prevented from being reabsorbed or redistributed elsewhere in your system, thus mitigating the accumulation of further toxicity. 


Your thyroid gland is a powerful yet vulnerable organ. When it’s functioning properly, your thyroid is like a spark plug for your entire body – illuminating and energizing your cells. Unfortunately, heavy metals have a special affinity for your thyroid, and these toxins’ impact on your body creates disharmony with this precious organ. 

If you’re already managing thyroid issues or are concerned about developing one, you can’t overlook the role that heavy metals could play in your imbalance. 

The good news is that there is a lot you can do to not only reduce your toxic exposure but also enhance the health of your thyroid. 

Check out CitriCleanse to learn more about this fantastic product and how it can help revive your cells while clearing your body of toxic compounds. 

*These statements have not been reviewed by the FDA. CitriCleanse is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. It is not intended to replace any medication or healing modality prescribed by your medical doctor.


  1. Fatourechi, Vahab. “Subclinical hypothyroidism: an update for primary care physicians.” Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Vol. 84. No. 1. Elsevier, 2009.
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279388/#:~:text=The%20thyroid%20gland%20is%20a,thyroid%20hormones%20into%20the%20bloodstream
  3. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22391-thyroid-hormone
  4. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/underactive-thyroid-hypothyroidism/symptoms/
  5. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/23524-thyroid-stimulating-hormone-tsh-levels
  6. Chen, Aimin, et al. “Thyroid hormones in relation to lead, mercury, and cadmium exposure in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2007–2008.” Environmental health perspectives 121.2 (2013): 181-186.
  7. Afrifa, Justice, Wisdom Djange Ogbordjor, and Ruth Duku-Takyi. “Variation in thyroid hormone levels is associated with elevated blood mercury levels among artisanal small-scale miners in Ghana.” PloS one 13.8 (2018): e0203335.
  8. Sabatino, Laura, et al. “Deiodinases and the three types of thyroid hormone deiodination reactions.” Endocrinology and Metabolism 36.5 (2021): 952.
  9. Chen, Aimin, et al. “Thyroid hormones in relation to lead, mercury, and cadmium exposure in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2007–2008.” Environmental health perspectives 121.2 (2013): 181-186.
  10. Aihara, Katsuaki, et al. “Zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium metabolism in thyroid disease.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 40.1 (1984): 26-35.
  11. https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/poison/copper-poisoning
  12. Tchounwou, Paul B., et al. “Heavy metal toxicity and the environment.” Molecular, clinical and environmental toxicology (2012): 133-164.
  13. Berry, Marla J., and Nicholas VC Ralston. “Mercury toxicity and the mitigating role of selenium.” EcoHealth 5.4 (2008): 456-459.
  14. Ventura, Mara, Miguel Melo, and Francisco Carrilho. “Selenium and thyroid disease: from pathophysiology to treatment.” International journal of endocrinology 2017 (2017).
  15. Zheng, Huijuan, et al. “Effects of selenium supplementation on Graves’ disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2018 (2018).
  16. Rana, S. V. S. “Perspectives in endocrine toxicity of heavy metals—a review.” Biological trace element research 160.1 (2014): 1-14.
  17. Pérez-Cadahía, Beatriz, et al. “Relationship between blood concentrations of heavy metals and cytogenetic and endocrine parameters among subjects involved in cleaning coastal areas affected by the ‘Prestige’tanker oil spill.” Chemosphere 71.3 (2008): 447-455.
  18. Pamphlett, Roger, et al. “Mercury in the human adrenal medulla could contribute to increased plasma noradrenaline in aging.” Scientific reports 11.1 (2021): 1-14.
  19. Alengebawy, Ahmed, et al. “Heavy metals and pesticides toxicity in agricultural soil and plants: Ecological risks and human health implications.” Toxics 9.3 (2021): 42.
  20. https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/heavy-metal-poisoning/#:~:text=The%20heavy%20metals%20most%20commonly,ingestion%20of%20lead%2Dbased%20paints
  21. https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/potential-contaminants-cosmetics/fdas-testing-cosmetics-arsenic-cadmium-chromium-cobalt-lead-mercury-and-nickel-content
  22. Jairoun, Ammar Abdulrahman, Moyad Shahwan, and Sa’ed H. Zyoud. “Heavy metal contamination of dietary supplements products available in the UAE markets and the associated risk.” Scientific Reports 10.1 (2020): 1-9.
  23. Borowska, Sylwia, and Malgorzata M. Brzóska. “Metals in cosmetics: implications for human health.” Journal of applied toxicology 35.6 (2015): 551-572.

Dr Wendy Myers, ND is a detox expert, functional diagnostic nutritionist, NES Bioenergetic Practitioner, and founder of Myersdetox.com. She is the #1 bestselling author of Limitless Energy: How to Detox Toxic Metals to End Exhaustion and Chronic Fatigue . Additionally, Wendy is the host of The Heavy Metals Summit, the Myers Detox Podcast, and the Supercharged Podcast. Passionate about the importance of detox to live a long and healthy life, she created the revolutionary Myers Detox Protocol , and Mitochondria Detox kit after working with thousands of clients, as well as a range of supplements to help you detox from everyday living and maintain a healthy lifestyle!

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