The thyroid is a small but very powerful gland! It is responsible for producing hormones, regulating how quickly our mitochondria produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the “energy” of our body, and in this way, stimulates our metabolism and the rhythm of many body systems. This gland works together with thyroid hormones, which in turn communicate with the cells of our body.
The thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is produced from the pituitary gland, which is necessary for the thyroid hormones to be produced from the thyroid: Thyroxine (T4) and Triiodothyronine (T3), both essential for our body's metabolism, with T3 being the form. of greater activity. The TSH level is also regulated by the amount of thyroid hormones present in the blood.
Hypothyroidism is a disease in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. It is one of the most frequent endocrine pathologies and is highly prevalent in the world. In Europe the prevalence varies between 0.2 to 5.3% and in the United States between 0.3 to 3.7%. In Chile, the National Health Survey (ENS) 2016-2017 shows that the suspicion of hypothyroidism, according to elevated TSH figures, is 18.6%; 18.9% and 18.2% in women and men respectively.
Currently the most common cause is subclinical hypothyroidism and thyroiditis, also known as Hashimoto's disease. In which, it happens that the immune system itself makes a mistake and acts against the cells in the thyroid gland seeking to destroy it. Faced with this attack, the body reacts through the pituitary gland, which produces excess thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) to ensure that the thyroid continues producing the necessary thyroid hormones.
Hypothyroidism involves insufficient production of T3 and/or T4 hormones and high TSH, resulting in slowed metabolic disruption. On the contrary, when there is an overactivity of the thyroid gland, an excess of thyroid hormones is produced, which increases the activity of our metabolism (hyperthyroidism). Because hypothyroidism is more common, we will address it today.
Symptoms of an altered Thyroid
- low thyroid function
- Lack of concentration
- High cholesterol
- Extremities with a cold sensation
- Muscle pain
- Quick weight gain and difficult to lose
- Irregular or heavier than normal menstrual periods
A fundamental pillar for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland is to provide the necessary nutrients for its activity. For example, Iodine and Tyrosine are required for the production of T4, and this process is supported by Iron, Selenium and Vitamins A, B2, B3, B6 and C. Selenium, Zinc and Copper are required to convert thyroid hormone T4 in T3 (active). The deficiency of these nutrients can be common, especially Selenium, because today's soils are depleted in minerals due to overexploitation.
N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is also an important amino acid in this activity since it combines with selenium to form selenocysteine, an enzyme that participates in the transfer of T4 to T3 and supports the production of glutathione peroxidase (a very important antioxidant for our body). ).
Now, even if we intend to consume the best nutrient supplements to support the thyroid and eat a diet rich in them, if the condition is long-standing, different functions of our body will probably already have been compromised and it will be essential to work on these as well:
Immunity and digestive function
When we refer to Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, we are talking about an immune-based condition, therefore, supporting this response will be essential. A key factor is adjusting blood levels of vitamin D due to its fundamental role as a mediator of immunity. At the same time, intestinal permeability and dysbiosis represent another condition that directly influences the immune response, therefore, supporting intestinal health will also be of great help. In this sense, stress management, diet, sleep quality and general lifestyle should be considered. Probiotic supplements and glutamine will be of great help in restoring intestinal function and repairing permeability.
Cortisol is a hormone produced by our adrenal glands in times of stress and when produced in excess, it can suppress the release of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) from the pituitary gland, affecting the hormones T4 and T3 and favoring the T4 becomes 'reverse T3' (rT3) which ultimately blocks thyroid function as it is an inactive form. In these cases, it is also the case that thyroxine levels still appear adequate when tested, but in the presence of a form that will have no activity. This is why stress management and control of cortisol levels will be a crucial factor in supporting this condition.
Cortisol can also be secreted inappropriately due to the presence of high blood sugar levels. Altered blood glucose, insulin resistance or diabetes can then have a negative effect on thyroid function.
Heavy metals and detoxification
'Halide' molecules such as fluoride in tap water have a structure similar to that of iodine and can act as endocrine disruptors, generating an alteration in the absorption and usefulness of this mineral by the thyroid. Other metals, such as mercury in toothpastes, can affect the conversion of T4 to T3. High exposure to these toxins, along with poor liver detoxification, can lead to hormonal alterations, nutrient depletion and give these endocrine disruptors the opportunity to generate various alterations in our body. Therefore, avoiding exposure to toxins and promoting our natural detoxification processes is another key point to support our body.
Supplementation in support
A key point in supporting those with thyroid dysfunction is to help them achieve a balance in the nutrients essential for thyroid activity:
Probiotics: Adequate intestinal function will be essential to support the autoimmune thyroid condition (Hashimoto's) due to the entire relationship between the intestinal microbiota and the immune response of our body. At the same time, it will promote the absorption of adequate nutrients to support the secretion and function of thyroid hormones.
Vitamin D : The level of vitamin D is essential for an adequate immune system response. Specifically in the case of Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, it has been linked to improvement in antibodies to the disease and support for energy levels (mood).
Selenium: Iodothyronine deiodinase enzymes (types I, II and III) are selenium-dependent and are involved in the activation and deactivation of thyroid hormones. Selenium deficiency can exacerbate the effects of iodine deficiency and selenium supplementation in patients with Hashimoto's thyroiditis has been shown to improve several symptoms. It especially plays a key role in the transition from T4 to active T3.
Iron and Zinc : These micronutrients are cofactors in the transformation and production of thyroid hormones. They increase the conversion of T4 to T3, improve immune function, particularly important in Hashimoto's disease. Zinc also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent for the thyroid.
Iodine : You should supplement with Iodine, only in the event that there is a deficiency, since an excess could be harmful to thyroid health. Iodine is essential for the synthesis of T3 and T4, since it is present in their transport, formation and iodization in order to be used. The lack of this nutrient, by not allowing the production of hormones, causes an increase in the release of TSH.
Magnesium : Magnesium stimulates the function of the nervous system, helps manage depression and mood changes, actively participates in energy metabolism, improves the feeling of chronic fatigue, supports good rest and digestive function. Therefore, it will be of great help for managing stress and the general condition of the disease.
Chromium: It acts directly on insulin receptors, improving blood sugar control, therefore, it is especially recommended for those who suffer from insulin resistance. Stable blood glucose levels must be maintained to avoid overproduction of cortisol, which, remember, can block the transformation of T4 to T3, the active form of thyroid hormone that stimulates the thyroid gland.
As you can see, thyroid function goes far beyond what we are used to evaluating, and to support it we must consider the complete lifestyle, from stress management, intestinal health and adequate nutrition and micronutrition. Working on optimizing our general health will be of great help to those who suffer from this disease.
As it is a pathology, we recommend that you always evaluate its management with your treating doctor, taking into account all the factors mentioned above.
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