The thyroid is a tiny butterfly-shaped organ at the base of the neck. This little gland can cause big trouble. Some common symptoms that present in a family doctor’s office include:
- Inability to lose weight
- Feeling cold
- Low energy
All of these symptoms can be signs of a poorly functioning thyroid gland.
The thyroid is the body’s furnace and is responsible for energy production and metabolism. The two important thyroid hormones it produces – thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) – are released in response to a signal from the brain’s pituitary gland in the form of the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).
In turn, the pituitary is influenced by the brain’s hypothalamus by secreting thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH) which signals the pituitary gland to secrete TSH.
The body’s endocrine system – the group of glands that produce our hormones – is often the first to age, making it particularly important to ensure you have a properly functioning thyroid gland.
This intricate mechanism is also regulated by a negative feedback loop. If the body isn’t producing enough T4 or active T3 a signal goes to the brain to make more. This causes an elevation in TSH when someone’s thyroid is underperforming.
Conversely, we sometimes make too much thyroid hormone which can lead to thyroiditis. This produces the opposite symptoms: weight loss, heart palpitations, inability to sleep, irritability and edginess.
Hypothyroidism is the most common thyroid dysfunction and occurs when thyroid levels are diminished. It usually affects middle-aged men and women over the age of 50, although women tend to be affected more often.
The most common cause of hypothyroidism is inflammation, also referred to as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
In some, this condition is prompted by a genetic predisposition, while in others the immune system is triggered to create antibodies that attack the thyroid gland.
Thyroid disorder prevention & treatment
When it comes to thyroid health, there are many factors that are beyond our control. If you are diagnosed with a thyroid disorder, you may ultimately need medication to assist in the treatment, however minimizing your stress and eating a well-balanced diet will help you avoid problems.
Healthy thyroid diet
Selenium is one of the most important nutrients for thyroid health because it’s required to convert T4 to the active metabolite, T3. Brazil nuts are an excellent source of Selenium.
Our bodies require iodine for the production of the thyroid hormone, while low levels of Vitamin A, iron, zinc, and magnesium can also negatively impact thyroid function.