Your thyroid gland is a small butterfly shaped gland. It is located just below the larynx, in the lower part of the neck. Most of us are familiar with the thyroid gland and its control over our metabolism. A lot of you will be familiar with Eltroxin (levothyroxine), the medicine for an underactive thyroid.
The purpose of the thyroid gland is to take iodine from foods we consume and convert them into thyroid hormones: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). The thyroid combines iodine and the amino acid tyrosine to make T4 and T3. T4 and T3, once released into the blood stream control our metabolism. The thyroid is also responsible for proper growth, development and repair of the body. Thyroid hormones play a particularly crucial role in brain maturation during foetal development and the central nervous system.
The metabolism of every single cell in our body is dependent on thyroid hormones. We often think of our metabolism as a way to lose or what is causing us to gain weight. Your metabolism is the way we create energy for everything we do – thinking, running, blinking, your heart beating etc. etc.
The thyroid produces about 80% T4 and 20% T3, but T3 is four to ten times the strength of T4. T4 is converted into T3 in organs like the spleen, the kidney and the liver.
Thyroid & Fertility:
As your thyroid controls the metabolism of every cell in your body, it has a role to play in our reproductive organs. Your thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system. The endocrine system is made up of a few glands, including your reproductive glands. If your thyroid is underperforming (for a variety of reasons) this will have a negative effect on hormonal output, sperm creation and egg development.
|Fertility Signs and Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism for Women (over stimulated)||Fertility Signs and Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism for Men (over stimulated)|
|Loss of libido||Abnormal enlargement of the mammary glands in males|
|Amenorrhea (Absent Period)||Feminization|
|Postpartum thyroiditis, occurs in 7% of women within the first year after childbirth||Loss of libido|
Other Symptoms Include:
|Hyperthyroidism (over accelerated)||Hypothyroidism (sluggish)|
|Inability to tolerate heat||Female Infertility|
|Infrequent, Scant menstrual periods||Elevated prolactin levels|
|Irritability or Nervousness||Flow of milk in the absence of pregnancy or childbirth|
|Muscle Weakness or Tremors||Abnormal menstrual cycles|
|Vision problems or eye irritation||Low body temperature|
|Weight Loss||MEN:Decreased Libido – creates impairment of testicular testosterone synthesis|
|Enlarged Thyroid Gland||Abnormal enlargement of the mammary glands|
As a note, some of these symptoms can be an isolated issue, a thyroid issue or something else entirely. If you tick a lot of those symptoms, have a word with your healthcare provider.
The next article will help you identify throi
What Can We Do?
Earlier on I mentioned that most of your thyroid hormones are made up of Iodine and the amino acid (protein) Tyrosine. For starters, let’s make sure that we supply our body with these nutrients. Foods rich in these can be found in the images. I also mentioned that the body produces more T4 then T3. In many ways, the body is a fan of having ‘inactive,’ substances travelling in our blood stream – so we can activate it when we need it! Brilliant really! In the organs mentioned, we convert T4 to T3 when required. This conversion uses Selenium, Vitamin A, B Vitamins, Vitamin K, Copper and Zinc. There are other factors like, heavy metal toxicity, immunological issues that can have a negative impact on the thyroid and its hormones too.
So first off, let’s make sure we have the building blocks and the necessary co-factors (agents) to create and make the hormone work. As a note, 9 in 10 of us are deficient in Selenium and Zinc according to a UK food survey.
However, constituents of certain foods (sometimes referred to as goitrogens) can promote a deficiency state by binding to iodine, making the iodine inaccessible for thyroid hormone synthesis. Cooking these foods tends to make them less goitrogenic. Common goitrogenic foods that can inhibit thyroid hormone synthesis are in the image below.
A few helpful hints and tips:
- Avoid food allergens, if you have them. Get this checked out if you don’t know
- Be mindful of heavy metals and also check your iodine levels
- Be careful of simple, refined sugars – interfere with the thyroid’s functionality
- Exercise keeps the metabolism clock ticking
- Good dietary habits as always, including good fats, very beneficial for your thyroid!