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What is the thyroid?


All you need to know about “Thyroid hormones”



The thyroid gland is found in the neck, right below the voice box (larynx). It’s made of two large lobes that are connected in the middle. 


The thyroid is filled with cells that contain protein-iodine complexes. These complexes are precursors of thyroid hormones.


Thyroid hormones


The thyroid gland produces two hormones: triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones play a vital role in regulating growth and metabolism.



Why is the thyroid so important?


The thyroid is one of the “master controllers” that regulates nearly every major metabolic function in the body.


Thyroid hormones regulate the metabolic rate of all cells, as well as the processes of cell growth, tissue differentiation, and reproductive function. Thyroid hormones can potentially interact with any cell in the body.



What you should know


Hormone status can influence metabolic rate, particularly in those with endocrine disorders such as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. It’s also possible for one disorder to shift into another — for instance, hyperthyroid can become hypothyroid. Thyroid disorders are most often autoimmune, although they can have other causes.





In hyperthyroidism or over-active thyroid function, it’s as if your body’s “motor” is revving at high speed. Symptoms can include:



  • racing heart and palpitations
  • trouble sleeping
  • tremor and nervousness
  • weight loss
  • hair loss
  • muscle aches and weakness
  • diarrhea and over-active digestive system
  • sweating and trouble tolerating heat
  • exophthalmos (bulging eyes)





Hypothyroidism refers to low thyroid function — the opposite of the above. The “motor” slows down.


If you’re struggling to lose fat even with a solid nutrition plan and regular, intense exercise, and you have some or all of the symptoms below, consider hypothyroidism as a possible contributor, especially if you’re female.


Indeed, 1 in 8 women will develop a thyroid problem at some point in life. Unexplained weight gain is one symptom of hypothyroid, but others include:


tiredness, fatigue, lethargy

depression and losing interest in normal activities


dry hair and skin

puffy face

slow heart rate

intolerance to cold


brittle nails

muscle cramping

changes in the menstrual cycle


Women may also develop a temporary thyroid inflammation after pregnancy.


Hypothyroidism can lead to a number of serious health problems:


In addition to fatigue and weight gain, a sluggish thyroid can raise the risk for:

Elevated levels of LDL cholesterol

Heart problems

Peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage, usually in the legs)


Frequent miscarriages

Birth defects



Screening for thyroid function


Some organizations recommend that any person over the age of 40 be screened periodically for thyroid function. This can be done with a blood test measuring TSH.


Several deficiencies can contribute to hypothyroidism. These include:


Iodine: The thyroid gland can’t make enough thyroid hormone if it doesn’t get enough iodine.


Iron: In addition to helping the body make red blood cells, iron is essential in the production of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). 


Selenium: This mineral helps the thyroid use iodine to create the thyroid hormones T3 and T4. 


Zinc: Zinc is found primarily in seafood, which explains why deficiency tends to show up in people who are strict vegans or vegetarians.


Tyrosine: This amino acid found in dairy products, meats, fish, eggs, nuts, beans, oats, and wheat, is involved in the creation of thyroid hormones.





Certain foods contain substances called goitrogens that stop the thyroid from absorbing the iodine that it needs to work properly.


These foods include cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and bok choy, as well as peanuts, turnips, grapeseed, cassava, and soy.

It’s important to note that people with hypothyroidism don’t need to avoid goitrogenic foods. They’re not a problem for everyone.



What to look for in a food and lifestyle diary


Eating enough high-quality minimally processed whole foods such as fruits and veggies, lean protein, healthy fats, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

Getting enough sleep.

Managing stress effectively.

Finding that exercise sweet spot between pushing themselves just enough—or overdoing it.

Consume adequate iodine.

Don’t drastically restrict calories.

Maintain a 5 hour per week exercise regimen

If symptoms of hypothyroidism are suspected, request a TSH test from your physician.

Avoid synthetic chemicals found in conventional food items, body products, and food containers when possible.


References: Read below article for more information on Thyroid 


All about Thyroid