5 Signs You Need to Get Your Thyroid Checked ASAP!
Often when we think about it, however, images of a sluggish metabolism and an internal thermostat that's all over the place come to mind.
It’s true that the thyroid gland affects the above processes, but it's involved in so much more.
In fact, the thyroid is one of the most essential glands to regulate overall health, and is easily damaged by toxins, nutrient deficiencies, and stress.
How the Thyroid Works
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland found in the neck behind the Adam’s apple. The thyroid is controlled primarily from the pituitary gland (via the hormone TSH) to product the thyroid hormones T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodthyronine).
T4 is found in the largest quantities and then our body converts T4 into the more biologically active T3 hormone. T4 is often known as the “lame duck” storage hormone, where T3 is the “metabolism booster”.
However, most of the time only TSH and T4 are checked which only provides part of the picture…
Checking Your Thyroid
Current research shows that an untreated thyroid disorder can increase our risk for many chronic health concerns. It is estimated that 1 in 5 people have a sub-optimal thyroid not detected through proper evaluation and testing.
When doing a thorough workup on the thyroid, Naturopathic Physicians always run the following tests:
- Free T3 and Free T4
I see a ton of patients with thyroid conditions in my practice, many of which have not been diagnosed previously.
Symptoms of a Malfunctioning Thyroid
Low energy can be caused by many things (low iron or low vitamin B12), however if you are constantly dragging your heels and can’t function without your coffee, it could be a sign of an underactive thyroid. If you also need to sleep 9+ hours to feel refreshed, this may also indicate an underlying thyroid imbalance.
2. Weight Gain
Unexplained weight changes and issues can be signs of both hypo or hyperthyroidism but when you are exercising rigorously and eating super healthy but are failing to shed a pound or even gaining? This could indicate low thyroid or hypothyroidism.
3. Dry Skin or Hair Loss
With hypothyroid (low thyroid), hair often becomes brittle, coarse and dry, while breaking off and falling out easily. Skin can become course, thick, dry and scaly. In hypothyroidism there is often an unusual loss of hair in the outer edge of the eyebrow. With hyperthyroidism, severe hair loss can also occur, and skin can become fragile and thin.
Depression or anxiety can be a symptom of thyroid disease. While there are often other underlying factors involved, the thyroid and adrenal function should be the first areas of assessment when treating anxiety or depression. Hypothyroidism is often associated with depression, while hyperthyroidism is more commonly associated with anxiety. Although some people will experience both anxiety and depression in hypothyroidism.
5. Menstrual Problems and Infertility
Our hormones work synergistically together and when one hormone is found to be out of balance, quite often another hormone pathway needs to be investigated.
Heavier, more frequent and more painful periods are sometimes associated with hypothyroidism. Infertility can also be associated with undiagnosed thyroid conditions.
Restoring Your Thyroid
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms and suspect your thyroid is a little sluggish you may want to supplement your diet with nutrients that support healthy thyroid function and give you the energy you need to enjoy life.
Some key nutrients that can help boost an under-active thyroid include:
Iodine and Tyrosine
Thyroid hormones are made from iodine and the amino acid tyrosine. Include food sources from the diet such as seaweeds (kelp, dulse), eggs, nuts and seeds, turkey, chicken and fish.
Selenium (In the Form of Selenomethionine)
A deficiency in selenium reduces the conversion of T4 into active T3. Selenium also helps the body recycle its stores of iodine. Shiitake mushrooms, salmon, Brazil nuts and garlic are all good sources of selenium.
Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera)
Ashwagandha is an important herb in Ayurvedic medicine. It serves as an adaptogen, helping the adrenal glands combat stress but also supports healthy thyroid function by supporting the synthesis of thyroid hormones.