The thyroid is the master metabolism gland. This remarkable little gland can regulate body temperature, aid in digestion, and enhance cognitive ability. Without the thyroid, our bodies would not be able to convert nutrients into energy.
Let’s address some of the most important functions our thyroid performs:
20 Important Facts You Need to Know about the Thyroid
The butterfly-shaped thyroid gland is located in the neck. Hormones produced by the thyroid direct calorie consumption, oxygen usage, digestion, the brain and neuromuscular function. What an incredibly powerful gland!
More than 27 million Americans have some sort of thyroid disease. About 13 million have no idea they suffer from a thyroid imbalance.
Typically, women are more prone to thyroid issues than men.
Thyroid disease becomes more common as we age.
The thyroid secretes three important hormones—thyroxine (T4), triiodothyronine (T3), and calcitonin. T3 and T4 are the thyroid hormones responsible for our overall metabolism and affect almost every cell in our bodies. Calcitonin helps regulate calcium stores in the body and also directs our bone-building process.
Iodine is essential to form both T3 and T4. Populations around the globe with iodine-deficient soil are known to have thyroid issues.
T4 is essentially the same in structure as T3, only it has an extra iodine molecule, which makes it the inactive form. However, when the thyroid gland is functioning properly, 80% of the hormone it manufactures is T4 while 20% is T3, so T4 is readily converted to T3.
The conversion of T4 into T3 occurs mostly in our liver but also in cells of the heart, muscles, gut, and nerves. It is extremely important that our liver function optimally for T3 to be produced and become active.
T3 affects nutrient absorption from carbohydrates and fats, the rate of protein creation, the rate of food digestion, muscle building, oxygen utilization in cells, and energy production efficiency in the cells.
Most thyroid hormone in the bloodstream is bound to protein carrier molecules. It is the unbound (or free thyroid hormone) that exerts its effects on our cells.
Thyroid hormone production is controlled by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland (located in the brain). Communication with the brain maintains optimal balance in the body.
Dopamine, a neurotransmitter, stimulates the hypothalamus to release TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) and thereby influences T3 production. Dopamine is made from the amino acid tyrosine, so consuming good quality proteins is important to both thyroid and brain health.
Stress is a major factor that adversely affects the thyroid.
Hypothyroidism is an underproduction of thyroid hormone. The most common form is an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. In Hashimoto’s, the body sees the thyroid hormone as foreign and attacks it. Symptoms include fatigue, sensitivity to cold, excess weight gain, poor circulation, dry skin, loss of hair, depression, and poor digestion.
The overproduction of thyroid hormone is called hyperthyroidism. In the U.S., one in 1,000 women have hyperthyroidism. It causes increases in metabolic rate, sensitivity to heat, restlessness and anxiety, goiters, and weight loss.
Iodide can be displaced by fluoride and chloride which may result in the inability to produce T4. Additionally, heavy metals can interfere with metabolic pathways by blocking important nutrients from performing their functions.
In hypothyroidism, HCl (hydrochloric acid) production is reduced, resulting in malabsorption of nutrients, undigested proteins, and digestive complaints.
Many thyroid abnormalities are seen during times of fluctuating reproductive hormones such as pregnancy and perimenopause.
Many blood tests for thyroid only test TSH. However, a more comprehensive panel will shed more light into one’s thyroid function by testing free T4, free T3, reverse T3 (rT3), TSH, and TPO (thyroid peroxidase antibody).
Important nutrients for the thyroid are iodine, tyrosine, B vitamins, vitamin A, selenium, zinc, and the essential fatty acids to name a few.
The thyroid is part of an intricate network of cellular communication that assists the body in functioning properly. It is important to provide it with the nutrients and building blocks it needs so we can benefit from all that it does for us on a daily basis.
How WellnessFX Can Help
Over 10% of the U.S. population will have a thyroid condition at some point in their lifetime. Of those with thyroid disease, 60% are unaware that they have it. Thyroid imbalances are traditionally difficult to identify and diagnose, so WellnessFX has addressed this growing need with making an Advanced Thyroid testing package available. This panel will help identify and improve thyroid challenges, especially for women. The information you learn here can put you on track to higher energy, better sleep, and better weight management.