Thyroid Health - A Delicate Balance
Thyroid Hormone Production Needs More Than Iodine
A healthy balance of thyroid hormones is necessary to keep all of your body organs and systems working well. Problems occur with too much or too little production of these hormones. It’s a Goldilocks situation – just enough keeps everything operating smoothly.
Thyroid hormones are critical in the proper functioning of: the heart and digestive systems, muscle control, bone maintenance, brain development, and your metabolic rate. They control how your body breaks down food and either uses it for energy or stores it for future use.
Thyroid Hormone Production is Complicated
When the brain detects low thyroid hormone level, it stimulates the hypothalamus
Hypothalamus produces TRH (thyrotropin releasing hormone)
TRH stimulates the pituitary gland
Pituitary gland produces TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone)
TSH stimulates the thyroid and increases the uptake of iodine
Thyroid gland produces T4 (inactive) and T3 (active) hormones
That’s a lot of steps to create the hormones our bodies need for all of our organs and systems to work well! But thyroid hormone production doesn’t stop there.
Most of the hormones the thyroid produces are inactive T4; a small percentage is active T3 that can be immediately used by the body. Conversion of T4 to T3 takes place almost entirely in the liver.
So, maintaining a healthy thyroid hormone level depends not only on the HPT (Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Thyroid) axis, but also on the brain and the liver, an organ that few would ever conceive as vital to this crucial process.
Nourishing the system that produces thyroid hormones is more complicated than just taking iodine. A healthy hypothalamus needs vitamins B-1, B-12 and C, and omega-3 fatty acids. The pituitary gland needs vitamins A, D and E, magnesium, manganese, iron and iodine. The symporter pump that draws the iodine into the thyroid requires vitamin B-2 and vitamin C. And to make TSH, the body needs protein and the micronutrients magnesium, zinc, and vitamin B-12.
Iodine is certainly important. The thyroid converts it to T4 (4 atoms of iodine) and T3 (3 atoms of iodine). The body needs a sufficient supply of the mineral for this system to work, but most Americans have sufficient iodine in their diet. Supplementing and supporting the iodine level through natural food sources (such as kelp, seafood and fresh vegetables) is ideal. And keep in mind that too much iodine can be detrimental to your health.
Selenium drives an enzyme required to convert T4 to T3.
Supporting healthy brain and liver function is essential to healthy thyroid hormone balance. Cortisol, produced by stress, effects the brain and the liver. It pushes the body to convert T4 into an inactive Reverse T3 (rT3) and to secrete active T3. Herbs that calm and balance the body reduce the production of cortisol and diminish its damaging effects, thereby supporting healthy thyroid function.
For a supplement that nourishes and supports the entire system, consider REDD Remedies’ Thyroid Strong.
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