We often come up with many reasons why we believe we may suffer from fatigue, weight gain, moodiness, poor memory and concentration. Thyroid disorder however probably wouldn’t be the first condition which comes to mind. You may be surprised to know that thyroid disorders are very common and in fact can affect 10 times more women than men worldwide. We can suffer from either an underactive thyroid or an overactive thyroid. Underactive thyroid function known as hypothyroidism, is considerably more common than an overactive thyroid function known as hyperthyroidism.
Our thyroid gland is this interesting butterfly-shaped gland found under our voice box and is made up of lots of miniscule sacs known as thyroid follicles. This gland is a key component of our endocrine system which is in charge of production as well as the release of thyroid hormones including those known as T4 and T3. These T4 and T3 hormones are responsible for balancing and regulating our metabolic functions including our body temperature, energy levels and the rate at which we can generate energy from the food we eat. For various reasons, sometimes our thyroid will become either over or underactive.
An underactive thyroid act in a way that slows down our metabolism which in turn means everything in our body operates more sluggishly. It has been found, by slowing down our metabolic rate an underactive thyroid can lead to symptoms such as –
- Weight gain and difficulty losing weight
- Fatigue and mood disturbances
- Poor memory and concentration
- Low libido
- Dry or rough hair, skin and nails
- Intolerance to cold
- Development of a goitre
The good news is, when it comes to an underactive thyroid there are certain natural supplements which may help kickstart our thyroid.
- Iodine is an essential component of T4 and T3. Iodine deficiency has been found to be a noticeable problem in Australia and is the leading cause of hypothyroidism.
- Selenium is an important trace mineral required for the conversion of T4 into the active thyroid hormone T3, through selenium-based enzymes. It has been found a deficiency in this enzyme may result in reduced conversion of T4 to T3 which is important for thyroid health.
- Tyrosine is an essential amino acid required to produce thyroid hormones and is important for thyroid health. Tyrosine is also a critical component of several important brain chemicals and neurotransmitters, including epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine. Epinephrine (adrenalin) and norepinephrine are produced by our adrenal glands in our fight or flight stress response, whilst dopamine assists in improving mood, memory and motivation.
- Withania is a herb which assist in the production of thyroid hormone levels by enhancing T4 levels. As I have written often, Withania is an adaptogen herb which helps our body cope with stress. It has been found high stress levels can interfere with the function of our thyroid hormones.
- Zinc is another important mineral which is fundamental for the production of T4 through zinc dependant enzymes. It is believed a deficiency in these enzymes may affect the production of thyroid hormones.
There is a thyroid supplement which contains all of these ingredients, however if you are taking pharmaceuticals for thyroid disorder such as Thyroxin, taking such a supplement is not advised. It is however safe to take Zinc and Selenium.