It is thyroid cancer awareness month, so you should…


The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your neck. It is aptly referred to as the master metabolism gland. Hormones produced by the thyroid direct calorie consumption, oxygen usage, digestion, the brain and neuromuscular function. So, the thyroid is needed to regulate body temperature, aid in digestion, and enhance cognitive ability. Without the thyroid, our bodies would not be able to convert nutrients into energy.

Thyroid disorders typically fit into one or more of 3 basic categories: iodine deficiency disease, hypothyroidism (under production of thyroid hormone), and hyperthyroidism (over production of thyroid hormone).

Iodine deficiency is the world’s greatest single cause of preventable brain damage and mental retardation.

The total number of people at risk for iodine deficiency disease worldwide in 1995 was 1.5 billion people, or about 29% of the global population. There is little to indicate that it is any better today.

An estimated 20 million Americans have some sort of thyroid disease, and as many as 60% of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition.

Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems.

The thyroid secretes important hormones called thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) that are responsible for our overall metabolism and affect nearly every cell in the body. The mineral iodine is essential for the formation of T3 and T4.

Under normal circumstances, about 80% of the thyroid hormones manufactured by the thyroid are in the inactive form of T4. T4 is readily converted to active T3 hormone as needed. The conversion of T4 to T3 takes place primarily in the liver but also in the cells of the muscles, gut, nerves and heart. Healthy liver function is therefore extremely important for optimal production and function of T3.

Brain health is also essential to optimal thyroid function. Stimulated by the neurotransmitter dopamine, the hypothalamus (located in the brain) releases thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) that directs the production of T3.

Factors that adversely affect the thyroid include stress, fluctuating reproductive hormones (such as during pregnancy and perimenopause), and environment contaminants such as heavy metals.

Essential nutrients needed to support the thyroid are iodine, zinc, selenium and quality protein, among many others.
If you have concerns regarding nutrient absorption from the diet, protein metabolism, proper digestion, maintaining muscle, cellular energy production, or brain function and cognition, make sure your thyroid has the nutritional support to function properly.

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