Is Your Thyroid Running Low?


Is Your Thyroid Running Low?

Check off all that apply to you and total your score.

Dry skin and/or hair 
Hair loss 
Brittle hair and/or nails 
PMS, infertility, long menstrual cycle (longer than 30 days) or irregular periods 
Fibrocystic breast disease 
Abnormal lactation 
Lack of sweating, feeling cold or cold hands and feet 
High cholesterol 
Poor tolerance for exercise 
Heart palpitations 
Outer edge of eyebrows thinning 
Aches and pains 
Water retention/puffiness in hands or feet 
Poor memory  
Loss of libido 
Loss of motivation or competitive edge 
Iron deficiency anemia 
Generalized overweight/weight gain/obesity 
Use of corticosteroids 
Current use of synthetic hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills 
TOTAL (Warning Score: > 10)

Thyroid hormones regulate our metabolism and organ function and directly affect heart rate, cholesterol levels, body weight, energy, muscle contraction and relaxation, skin and hair texture, bowel function, fertility, menstrual regularity, memory, mood and other body processes. It is well documented that normal levels of thyroid hormones are essential to the development of the fetal and neonatal brain. In fact, women who have low thyroid hormone levels during pregnancy have babies with lower IQs.

The most common thyroid disorder results from an underactive thyroid gland, or hypothyroidism, related to a thyroid hormone deficiency. It is estimated that 13 million Americans have underactive thyroid function, only half of which have been properly diagnosed. The disorder is five times more common in women than men, and it is projected that as many as one in five women will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime.

Hypothyroidism is a complex disorder that may result from several different causes. Causative factors include the following:

• In primary hypothyroidism, the thyroid may fail to produce enough hormone, which may be due to an autoimmune response by the body against the thyroid (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) or other problems with the function of the thyroid gland itself.

• In secondary hypothyroidism, the pituitary gland or the hypothalamus may fail to send a signal to the thyroid that instructs it to produce thyroid hormones.

• Thyroxine (T4) produced by the thyroid may not convert properly to its active form, triiodothyronine (T3), which ultimately influences the metabolism of every cell.

• The adrenal hormones cortisol and DHEA influence thyroid function. A deficiency of DHEA and excessive amounts of the stress hormone cortisol may inhibit thyroid hormone function.

• Toxic levels of mercury, typically resulting from mercury fillings or consuming high amounts fish from the ocean, may inhibit thyroid gland function.

• High levels of estrogen or a deficiency of progesterone inhibits thyroid function. Many menopausal women on estrogen replacement therapy may develop the symptoms of an underactive thyroid. Menopausal women taking thyroid medication while on hormone replacement therapy may also need to increase their dosage of thyroid medication to prevent symptoms of underactive thyroid.

• The consumption of excess soy may decrease the activity of thyroid hormone in the body.

• Some studies suggest that fluoride in water and toothpaste may inhibit thyroid gland function. Pesticides in water may also affect healthy thyroid function. Occupational exposure to polybrominated biphenyls and carbon disulphide has also been associated with decreased thyroid function.

• Nutritional deficiencies may prevent the proper manufacture or function of thyroid hormone in the body. Iodine and tyrosine are necessary for the formation of thyroid hormones, while selenium is necessary for the normal function of thyroid hormones. Zinc deficiency has been found in many individuals with decreased thyroid hormone levels.

• Certain medications may induce hypothyroidism. Lithium carbonate, a medication used to treat people with bipolar disorder, is one of the most common medications that cause hypothyroidism. Others include amiodarone hydrochloride (brand names include Cordarone and Pacerone), interferon-alfa (such as Infergen, Rebetron and Wellferon), nitroprusside, perchlorate and sulphonylureas.

The symptoms of underactive thyroid disease can vary, and not all individuals will present in the same way. This was true in my case; I was misdiagnosed for over 12 years. I started with all the symptoms of hypothyroidism at 13 years of age, yet it wasn’t until I was 22,  when I became so confused and foggy that I couldn’t drive the car or understand people when they spoke to me and was sleeping 16 hours per day, that I got diagnosed. I know my disease was missed because I had only gained about 15 pounds. Even though this is a lot for a small frame, I still appeared to most people as normal weight, so most doctors didn’t think of looking into my thyroid. I remember waking up in my early teens with my pillow covered in hair and being taken to dermatologists for hair loss. Still, no one tested my thyroid until I had severe neurological symptoms and fatigue at the end of my undergraduate degree. At the time of diagnosis,my thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) level was over 25, when normal is less than 4.7 and optimal is less than 2.0.

Thyroid disease is most accurately diagnosed by blood tests that analyze thyroid gland function. Four tests—TSH, Free T3, Free T4 and thyroid antibodies—should be completed. I often find thyroid antibodies to be abnormal long before the other three. But there are issues with these blood tests’ normal reference ranges. The TSH range is from 0.35 to 4.7 in Canada.The high value has recently been reduced to 3 in the United States. However, many health practitioners feel that it should be less than 2.0, and I agree.

Ultimately, this means that many people suffering with the symptoms of an underactive thyroid may go without proper treatment. If you suspect a thyroid condition, the best way to be certain you receive proper treatment is to ensure your doctor is treating you and not just your blood work. It’s crucial to treat a thyroid condition correctly and quickly. Untreated thyroid conditions may result in an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, infertility, premature ovarian failure, breast cancer, osteoporosis, obesity, goitre and diabetes.

Treatment Options:

• Clear Metabolism. Shake up your metabolism with this fantastic formula that supports thyroid hormone production and activity. This is typically prescribed when the TSH is starting to elevate and T4 is not high enough to be optimal. The best thyroid-supporting ingredients are together in one source, including iodine, potassium, L-tyrosine, ashwaganda, rosemary, forskolin and guggulipids. The dose is two capsules at breakfast.

• Ashwagandha. This supplement may increase both thyroxine (T4) and its more potent counterpart, T3. Both ashwagandha and guggulipids appear to boost thyroid function without influencing the release of the pituitary hormone TSH, indicating that these herbs work directly on the thyroid gland and other body tissues. Good news, since thyroid problems most often occur within the thyroid gland itself, or in the conversion of T4 into T3 in tissues outside the thyroid gland. The recommended dose is 750–1,000 milligrams twice a day. Ashwaganda is a favourite choice for supporting the thyroid when stress is also a concern.

• Forskolin. Extracted from an herb called Coleus forskohlii,forskolin may increase the release of thyroid hormone by stimulating a substance called cAMP. cAMP is comparable in strength to TSH, which prompts the thyroid to produce more thyroid hormone. Studies suggest 250 milligrams two or three times per day. Coleus is one of the top supplement choices when both weight loss and thyroid support are the goals. Clear Stress as well as Clear Metabolism have Forskolin in their formulas.

• Guggulipids (Commiphora mukul). Guggulipids enhance the conversion of T4 to the more potent form, T3. Dosage is 500 milligrams, three times a day. Guggulipids may also lower elevated cholesterol and aid weight loss, so choose this one if you are concerned about high cholesterol or weight loss as well as sluggish thyroid function.

• L-tyrosine. The amino acid tyrosine is necessary to produce thyroid hormones in the body. Recommended dose is 1,000 milligrams on rising, before breakfast. Do not take this supplement if you have high blood pressure.

Foods or Specific Habits to Increase Thyroid Hormone

• Exercise. But do not over-exercise as it will suppress thyroid function. Thirty minutes three to four times per week is perfect. 

• Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation decreases thyroid hormone and your metabolic rate.

• Eat regularly. And avoid excessive caloric restriction.

• Consume foods that contain the nutrients necessary to produce thyroid hormones. For tyrosine: almonds, avocados, bananas, dairy products, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds. For iodine: fish (cod, sea bass and haddock), shellfish and sea vegetables such as seaweed and kelp. Kelp is the richest source of iodine. For selenium: brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, whole grains (barley, whole wheat, oats and brown rice), seeds, nuts (especially brazil nuts), shellfish and some vegetables (garlic, onions, mushrooms, broccoli, tomatoes and radishes).

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