Fish Oil Activates Thyroid Signaling in Your Liver to Burn Fat

By: Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
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The DHA component of fish oil is a potent brain support nutrient that is a vital building block for optimal cognitive function. Optimal thyroid function is also a key to healthy brain and cognitive function. An interesting study done at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro shows that fish oil can help optimize the function of thyroid hormone within liver cells to burn fat.  We also know that when fat piles up in your blood (evidenced by elevated triglycerides), cognitive problems are more likely to occur.

This study helps make the point that thyroid function is more than just an amount of thyroxine, T4, produced by your thyroid gland or taken as a medication.  In recent writing I pointed out the importance of selenium for converting T4 to the biologically active form of thyroid hormone,T3, by your liver. This study says that if your cells have adequate DHA in them, then T3 is much more effective at burning fat. The synergy of function between T3 and fish oil results in better metabolism.

This study is especially interesting because I have seen many times over the years that individuals may need to get to fairly high doses of fish oil before weight loss kicks in, such as 2,000 – 3,000 mg. of DHA. (Getting this amount of DHA would require taking more than 10 grams of some fish oil products). 

In my early years I thought this was because the body just wouldn’t give up bad fat until you put enough good fat in it. Over the past decade I believed it was because at a certain level of DHA intake, white adipose tissue starts to work a lot better, which is true. Now from this study I can predict that a certain level of fish oil intake may be needed to optimize thyroid function within cells. It also means that if you take a lot of fish oil and eat well but your triglycerides are not coming down, then you should take a thyroid boosting supplement with selenium in it to better activate your T3.

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