How does the thyroid system operate?
Thyroid hormones originate in the center of the brain in a region about as large as an almond, known as the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus secretes TRH (thyroid releasing hormone)which travels a short distance to the anterior pituitary where TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) is released. TSH travels a short distance just outside of the brain to the largest endocrine gland, the thyroid gland. It isfound in the front of the neck, and is where several versions of thyroid hormones are made (T4 and T3).
The thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system.It stores and continuously secretes small amounts of thyroid hormones, which impact almost every cell in the body.
The thyroid gland actively recruits the dietary mineral iodine into the thyroid gland where 3 or 4 iodine molecules are attached to the essential amino acid, tyrosine.
If 3 iodines are attached, the type of thyroid hormone is known as triiodothyronine (T3). If 4 iodines are attached, it is known as thyroxine (T4). About 85% of the thyroid hormone made in the thyroid gland is T4.
The thyroid gland regulates many body functions by releasing a steady amount of thyroid hormone into the blood stream as the blood circulates through the thyroid gland, about every 17 minutes.This provides a means for distributing this critical hormone and for cleaning the blood by exposure to concentrated amounts of iodine in the thyroid gland.
If too much thyroid hormone is made in the thyroid gland, it will self-limit by inhibiting the upstream stimulus points in the hypothalamus and / or the anterior pituitary. The cascade of thyroid hormones is a beautiful circuit of stimulation and inhibition perfectly matched to our environment, the season, and to our bodily functions to fine-tune and balance our metabolic functions and bioenergetics.
Where is your thyroid gland?
The thyroid gland is a bowtie shaped gland in the middle of your neck. A normal thyroid gland weighs about 15 to 20 grams, a little less than an ounce. For men, it is about an inch below the “Adam’s apple” (the laryngeal prominence). For women, the thyroid gland rests just below the larynx.The thyroid gland flanks and semi-circlesthe trachea. It has a left and right lobe with a small middle section linking them.
Does the thyroid gland change shape?
When the body lacks iodine, the thyroid gland enlarges, making the neck appear enlarged and swollen. It may be slightly enlarged or it may be obviously enlarged. It may be diffusely enlarged or there may be obvious enlarged nodules.
A normal thyroid gland is soft, somewhat rubbery and pliable. An abnormal thyroid gland may be enlarged, hard and / or nodular. An enlarged thyroid gland may weigh up to 3 or 4 pounds instead of the usual 15 to 20 ounces.
The thyroid gland can become enlarged, even in the presence of normal thyroid function tests.
If you believe your thyroid gland is enlarged, ask your primary care physician to examine your thyroid.
What are thyroid hormone functions?(PMID: 24575274)
- Delivery of oxygen to tissues. Increases O2 consumption.
- Stimulates production of red blood cells.
- Regulates body temperature. Elevated heat production.
- Regulates heart rate.
- Regulates hemoglobin production.
- Critical for early brain development.
- Necessary for bone maturation and remodeling.
- Needed for protein synthesis.
- Increases renal clearance of medications.
- Regulates normal reproductive functions in women and men.
- Mediates energy metabolism (how the body uses and stores energy; metabolic rate).
- Critical for normal body growth (a lack causes cretinism – small stature).
- Thyroid stimulates the function of parietal cells in the stomach, leading to B12 deficiency if low.
- As thyroid increases, blood volume, cardiac output, stroke volume and resting heart rate increase.
What is the relationship between the thyroid gland and iodine?
Iodine is necessary for making thyroid hormones. There is a lack of consensus about how much iodine we need. The US recommended daily intake for iodine is 150 micrograms while some experts recommend as much as 15 milligrams per day (higher by a factor of 100) and other experts go as high as recommending 50 mg per day. It is common for some Asian cultures to regularly consume 15 to 50 mg of iodine per day.
There is concern the US recommendation is too low and is difficult to achieve without consuming iodized salt and seafood. Even though some cultures consume high amounts of iodine, some people may not tolerate it well. It is always advisable to slowly increase the amount to avoid any potential for experiencing the more uncommon side effects of too much iodine. See the recommendations below for a reasonable iodine intake level.
Which elements are necessary for thyroid health?
Positive factors affecting thyroid health include a wide range of nutritional factors including almost all of the vitamins, minerals, and the amino acid, tyrosine.
- Minerals include: iodine, selenium, copper, magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron and molybdenum.
- Vitamins include A, D, E, C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenate, pyridoxine, folate, and cobalamin.
- Macronutrients include: saturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids (e.g., cold water fish, walnuts, flax seeds, hemp seeds, soybeans, chia seeds, etc.)
- Adequate protein to ensure enough tyrosine to make thyroid hormones as well as other biological compoundssuch as dopamine, melanin, epinephrine, etc.
What factors negatively impact the thyroid gland?
- Factors which reduce the production of thyroid hormones include: stress, trauma, infections, radiation, certain medications, poor gut function, fluorine, chlorine, bromine, elevated toxin load, etc.
- Factors that cause thyroid hormones to become inactive include: low calorie diets, inflammation, infections, stress, liver disease, kidney disease, certain medications, etc.
What are some of the symptoms of being hypothyroid?
- Inability to lose weight even when taking extreme measures
- Fatigue, weakness
- Mood swings
- Weight gain
- Depression / irritability
- Forgetfulness, dementia (100% reversible with supplementation if d/t thyroid)
- Muscle cramping / muscle aches
- Decreased ability to perspire
- High cholesterol
- Irregular heart rhythm
- Poor circulation
- Hoarse voice, swelling of the vocal cords (Reinke’s edema)
- Heavy menses
- Hair loss
- Anemia (may be related to normocytic, macrocytic, microcytic anemia, refractory anemia)
- Higher BMI is associated with higher TSH (a sign of low thyroid hormones)
What are some of the symptoms of being hyperthyroid?
- Unintentional weight loss
- Rapid heart rate
- Irregular heartbeats
- Shaky hands
- Increased appetite
- Muscle fatigue
- Nervousness, anxiety
- Bulging eyes
- Tremulous voice
- Frequent bowel movements, borderline diarrhea
- Thinning skin
- Difficulty sleeping
- Heat sensitivity
What can you do to ensure optimal thyroid health?
- Consume adequate protein ensuring adequate intake of tyrosine.
- Top off the water-soluble vitamins every day by taking a B-complex 50 supplement.
- Ensure you are getting adequate minerals by taking a liquid mineral supplement.
- Ensure you get adequate iodine and selenium.
- Take steps to minimize extreme, chronic stressful situations.
- Ask your healthcare provider to routinely examine your thyroid gland for any changes.
- B-complex 50 (morning)
- 250–1,000 mg Magnesium citrate
- 200 mcg Selenium
- 2 – 5 drops 2% Lugol’s Iodine
- 1,000 – 20,000 mg Vitamin C
- 500 – 1000 mg Omega-3 fatty acids
- 50 mg Zinc
- 6 mg Copper
- 5 – 10 mg Boron
- 5 – 10 drops of Liquid Minerals
- 1,000 – 2,000 IUs of Vitamin D
- 500 – 1,000 mcg RAE Vitamin A
- 200 – 400 mg of Vitamin E
The above supplements are essential for thyroid health. Every person is unique and individualization is important. If you feel like you need individualized counseling regarding weight loss and optimizing your thyroid health, please contact Belle Visage Medical Aesthetics in Burleson, Texas for more information at: 817 720 6320.