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Why You Should Love Your Thyroid

A woman with an important pain in her throat related to her thyroid.

Spotting problems early, balancing hormones, and addressing thyroid problems

The thyroid is connected to, well … everything! The thyroid controls the metabolism in your cells, which allows your body to convert food into energy so that your body is working optimally. Without effective cell metabolism, the body cannot perform, grow, or heal – at least not very well. 

In this blog post, we’ll cover what the thyroid is, how to spot the early signs that you may have thyroid problems, discuss what lab tests to ask your doctor to run, and the habits you need to build healthy thyroid function. 

The Thyroid in All its Glory

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland on the front of the neck. It deals with five major hormones: T4, T3, T2, T1 & Calcitonin. 

The thyroid’s primary responsibility is to keep the body updated on how things are going overall. The hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and thyroid gland are constantly communicating; the nervous system and gut influence the efficacy of this feedback loop. The hormones managed by the thyroid and this feedback loop speak to all of our other cells, telling them whether they need to increase or decrease their energy production.  

Addressing Thyroid Dysfunction

Unfortunately, thyroid dysfunction is becoming more and more common, especially among women. This could be from poor nutrition due to malabsorption or broken digestion, toxicity, nervous system dysregulation, or an autoimmune issue caused by inflammation.  

The signs of dysfunction in the thyroid can also manifest in a wide variety of ways, including gut problems, reduced sex drive, hair loss, and low energy. Thyroid dysfunction can even cause estrogen dominance resulting in things like hot flashes or dysregulated sex hormones in some, which is worthy of its own blog post. 

Preventive Health and Recommended Annual Labs

Most commercial insurance plans will only cover the TSH test, which is not even a thyroid hormone. TSH stands for Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, which comes from the brain – specifically the anterior pituitary gland – but it sends messages to the thyroid. Some insurance companies will cover T4 labs, which is a good start because it looks at what kinds of raw materials are getting into your blood. Further testing is, however, recommended because we need to see how that raw material converts into T3. The proper levels of T4 and T3 are necessary to regulate your cellular metabolism. How much energy your cells make can affect your weight, body temperature, digestion, brain and muscle development, and mood. 

For example, when our nervous system thinks we are stressed, T4 can convert into Reverse T3 (RT3), so our body deprioritizes energy production within the cells. The RT3 messages the body to handle the perceived “emergency” instead of growth. It takes the active form of T3 and makes it unusable. This is a much-needed function that has served humans well. In other cases, energy production may be too high. There are many ways the thyroid can get out of whack! 

When getting lab work done, it is imperative to have as much information so your wellness providers can formulate an accurate theory about what’s happening with the T4 once it is released. So, including a test for T3 and RT3 will tell us more about the stress state of the body and how messages are being distributed and received. 

As mentioned earlier, there’s also autoimmune-affected hypothyroidism, as well as Graves Disease which is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism To ensure this is not a piece of your thyroid story, you must test for thyroid antibodies, Thyroglobulin AB and Thyroid Peroxidase AB.

Here’s a quick checklist of recommended labs: 

  • Free T3 – Free triiodothyronine 
  • Free T4 – Free Thyroxine 
  • Total T4
  • Reverse T3
  • T3 Total – Triiodothyronine
  • T3 Uptake
  • Thyroglobulin AB
  • Thyroid Peroxidase (TPO) AB

You may have to work with your doctor and insurance provider to order these tests and see what’s covered. You can also work with our partner lab to order a thyroid panel. 

It is essential to have as much information on how the thyroid is doing so we can make an informed decision on how to support it — adding in T4 as raw material may not be the only solution if we cannot convert to active T3. Whether that is due to the amount of stress in our nervous system, or possible tissue damage in the liver, kidneys, or in other places in the body, we need to understand the overall messages in the feedback loop. 

Building Resilience in the Thyroid Gland

Tests are essential, so you have a clear picture, but there are also things you can do immediately to support your thyroid. 

First, ensure your diet has sufficient vitamins, minerals, and calories. This will convey a consistent message to your body that you are safe and well-fed. If we do not get enough nutrients, minerals, and calories, our body thinks we are unsafe, and it will spread that message like wildfire – that’s its job!

The nutrients and minerals that you need to help your body deliver the thyroid hormones as designed are:  

  • Selenium
  • Iodine 
  • Vitamin B2 & B12
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Zinc
  • Magnesium 
  • Protein 

If you are struggling with thyroid function, eliminating gluten may also help. Gluten can cause inflammation throughout the body, so removing this from your diet and adding good healthy fats will set you on the right track. 

When dealing with hormones, it is a continuous balancing act that you would have to be a biochemist to understand. And even then, a biochemist cannot see what is happening inside the cell. 

Want to learn more, or are you ready for a wellness evaluation? Book a 15-minute consultation with Lindsey today.