The thyroid is a small part of your body, but it’s largely important—and thyroid issues can greatly affect your body and well-being. Let’s look at some crucial facts about the thyroid, each thyroid hormone, and how you can support yours best.
1. The Thyroid is a Small Gland in Your Neck
Your thyroid gland is small—weighs less than an ounce—and is found in the front of your neck along your windpipe. It contains two lobes, one on each side, that are connected by the isthmus, a thin band of tissue. Altogether, the thyroid gland resembles a butterfly.
2. The Thyroid Creates 2 Important Hormones
Those two thyroid hormones are:
- thyroxin (T4)
- triiodothyronine (T3)
Your thyroid combines the nutrient iodine with the amino acid tyrosine and converts them to T3 and T4. A healthy thyroid makes about 80 percent T4 and only 20 percent T3, but T3 has about four times more hormone “power” than T4. It then releases each thyroid hormone into the bloodstream to be transported throughout your body.
3. Your Thyroid Impacts Your Entire Body
Once T3 and T4 thyroid hormones are released into your blood, they regulate the metabolism of every cell in your body. Each thyroid hormone also controls crucial bodily functions like:
- Heart rate
- Body temperature
- Weight maintenance
- Nervous system function
- And more
Your thyroid gland is controlled by the pituitary gland, which is found at the base of your brain and is about the size of a peanut. If T3 and T4 drop too low, the pituitary gland makes thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), which prompts the thyroid gland to make more of each thyroid hormone.
Together, the thyroid and the pituitary gland work to keep a proper thyroid hormone balance.
What Causes Thyroid Problems?
Sometimes, the thyroid can produce too little of its thyroid hormones (known as hypothyroidism) or too much (hyperthyroidism). The symptoms may be small at first but can become more noticeable over time.
Common symptoms of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) include:
- Fatigue and/or depression
- Weight gain
- Dry skin
- Increased cold sensitivity
- Irregular or heavier periods
- Muscle weakness
- Elevated cholesterol
- Slowed heart rate
- Enlarged thyroid gland (also known as goiter)
Common symptoms of hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) can include:
- Nervousness, anxiety, and/or mood swings
- Rapid heartbeat
- Lighter or infrequent periods
- Heart palpitations, rapid heart rate, or irregular heartbeats
- Dry skin
- Weight loss
- Trouble getting to or staying asleep
There are various causes for thyroid imbalance, including autoimmune diseases, medications, inflammation, thyroid surgery, and even pregnancy in some women. A doctor can test your thyroid hormone levels and look for signs of thyroid problems.
How to Support Your Thyroid Gland
Since the reasons for thyroid issues can vary so much per person, the best first step is getting your thyroid hormones checked. But there are also specific nutrients (like those found in Thyroid Factors™) that can help support thyroid wellness and T3/T4 production, including:
- Iodine, a major building block of each thyroid hormone. Sea vegetables like kelp, Irish moss, and bladderwrack are especially rich in natural iodine.
- L-tyrosine, also a component of T3 and T4.
- Selenium, which is necessary for T3/T4 conversion. Seaweeds, like those listed for iodine, as well as Brazil nuts are good sources of selenium.
- Manganese, a factor in the making of T4.
- Chromium, a mineral necessary for energy metabolism.