Located just below the voice box, the thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system and has a significant influence on many of the body’s most essential processes. Regulation of growth, body temperature, metabolism, and physical development are all driven by the thyroid gland. Normal thyroid function is dependent on a number of factors, including nutrition and abstaining from exposure to certain environmental toxins.
The thyroid actively controls metabolism by producing and releasing thyroid hormones into the bloodstream. These hormones are necessary for normal brain development, gastrointestinal activity, skeletal development, and they even help support a balanced mood.
Thyroid disorders are a common concern for many people. Hyperthyroidism is characterized by the overproduction of thyroid hormones. It may cause mood swings, a rapid heartbeat, and weight loss. Conversely, hypothyroidism is when the thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones; it may cause fatigue, weight gain, or a slow metabolism.
What Does the Thyroid Gland Do?
The thyroid produces and releases the hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and tetraiodothyronine (T4), which is also called thyroxine. Many processes in the body rely on these hormones, especially metabolic function. The thyroid produces a third hormone calcitonin but it’s not considered a true thyroid hormone because it’s also synthesized in the lungs and intestinal tract. That, however, doesn't make it any less important; calcitonin prevents bone loss and supports normal calcium levels in the blood.
Serious Threats to Thyroid Function
Endocrine disruptors interfere with endocrine function and thyroid hormone production. Unfortunately, their presence is ubiquitous in our modern world. Examples of endocrine disruptors include pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and bisphenol-A (BPA), which is commonly used in ”food-safe” plastics such as take-out food containers and soda bottles.
Even the water supply contains fluoride, chlorine, and bromide – chemicals that pose a real and serious threat to normal thyroid function. Unfortunately, many thyroid concerns are difficult to detect. Doctors often misdiagnose poor thyroid function because the most common symptoms are shared by many other diseases and disorders.
What You Can Do to Support Healthy Thyroid Function
Even though the thyroid is susceptible to many thyroid disorders, steps can be taken to support thyroid health. First and foremost, it's important to supply your body with the nutrients critical for hormone production.
Certain foods support the thyroid by providing those key nutrients. One such nutrient, iodine, is necessary for the production of thyroid hormones. Equally important is selenium, which, among other tasks, is required for the production of glutathione peroxidase, an enzyme that protects the thyroid from free radicals.
Both iodine and selenium can be obtained through diet. Iodine is naturally present in sea vegetables (seaweed) and plants grown in iodine-rich soil; it's also added to iodized table salt. Sources of selenium include Brazil nuts, grains, eggs, chicken, liver, garlic, Brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, and produce grown in selenium-rich soil.
How Iodine Affects Your Thyroid
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Iodine deficiency is a significant health concern that affects as many as 1.6 billion people worldwide.[16, 17] The sheer prevalence of iodine deficiency is proof that many people are not getting the complete spectrum of nutrition their body requires. Most people would be well served to take inventory of their nutrient intake and fill the gaps with supplements. When it comes to nutritional support for the thyroid, we recommend our Thyroid Health Kit™.
This kit features the top three supplements you need to nutritionally support your thyroid: nascent iodine, selenium, and vitamin B-12. Nascent iodine is easily absorbed and actually becomes an integral component of thyroid hormones. Sourced from organic mustard seeds, our selenium supplement offers the most bioavailable forms of selenium. Vegansafe™ B-12 provides a bioactive combination of vitamin B-12 to encourage normal energy levels. Together, these three supplements provide the nutrients necessary to encourage normal thyroid health and metabolism.
What tips or insight can you offer about thyroid health? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
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†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.