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The Thyroid gland & Hypothyroidism

Common signs of underactive thyroid are tiredness, weight gain and feeling depressed.

What is the thyroid gland?

The thyroid is a small but powerful butterfly-shaped gland located at the front of your neck. This gland is part of the endocrine (hormone) system, plays a major role in regulating the body’s metabolism.[1, 2]

Thyroid issues can cause a range of seemingly unrelated problems, including drastic changes to your weight, energy, digestion, or mood. [1]

The thyroid makes two hormones that it secretes into the bloodstream.

The thyroid cells combine iodine and the amino acid tyrosine to make the thyroid hormones: T3 and T4. 

  • One is called thyroxine; this hormone contains four atoms of iodine and is often called T4. 
  • The other is called triiodothyronine, which contains three atoms of iodine and is often called T3.

Thyroxine (T4) converted to the active form known as T3 (biologically active form). 

It is the T3, derived from T4 or secreted as T3 from the thyroid gland, which is biologically active and influences the activity of all the cells and tissues of your body. [3]

Hypothyroidism

When the body doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones, it affects many systems that start to slow down, for example – low energy levels, heartbeat, circulation, blood pressure, metabolism, temperature and gaining weight more quickly.

How to support underactive thyroid?

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones.

What are the main symptoms?

According to the NHS [4]:

Symptoms usually develop slowly, and you may not realise you have a medical problem for several years. 

Common symptoms include: 

  • tiredness 
  • being sensitive to cold 
  • weight gain 
  • constipation
  • depression
  • slow movements and thoughts 
  • muscle aches and weakness 
  • muscle cramps 
  • dry and scaly skin 
  • brittle hair and nails 
  • loss of libido (sex drive)
  • pain, numbness and a tingling sensation in the hand and fingers (carpal tunnel syndrome)
  • irregular periods or heavy periods
  • Older adults with an underactive thyroid may develop memory problems and depression.
  • Children may experience slower growth and development. Teenagers may start puberty earlier than average.

If you have any of these symptoms, see your GP and ask to be tested for an underactive thyroid. Hypothyroidism diagnosed with a blood test.

Supplements and a healthy lifestyle can support thyroid function. Before taking supplements, consult with your healthcare provider.

Nutritional Supplements & Hypothyroidism

Iodine and tyrosine are essential nutrients that we need to produce thyroid hormones.

L-tyrosine

non-essential amino acid (naturally produced in the body). L-tyrosine helps to regulate a variety of hormones that are produced by the thyroid, adrenal gland, and pituitary gland.

Iodine

The World Health Organisation daily recommendations for adults are 150 μg/day. [5] The richest dietary sources of iodine are fish, seaweed, milk, other dairy products and eggs.

Iodine not added to salt in the UK, unless you buy iodised salt.

Iodine, if consumed in large amounts could damage the thyroid gland.

Kelp

Kelp is a rich source of iodine and also mucilaginous gels such as algin, which soothe the intestines, lower elevated blood fats and assist in the binding and excretion of heavy metals and other pollutants.

If you consider taking kelp supplements always choose from organic and sustainable harvest.

Zinc and vitamins A, B, C &E, are needed to produce thyroid hormones.

Deficiency in one of them can cause low thyroid hormone production.

Selenium

Selenium is an essential trace mineral, found in brazil nuts, fish, brown rice, meat, poultry, fish, and eggs. [6]

Selenium is a micronutrient embedded in several proteins. In adults, the thyroid is the organ with the highest amount of selenium per gram of tissue.

In the thyroid, selenium is required for the antioxidant function and the metabolism of thyroid hormones.

Selenium is essential because it is connected to the conversion of T4 to T3 in the body’s cells, and it appears that those with selenium deficiency have high TSH levels.[7]

Healthy lifestyle recommendations:

Exercise stimulates secretions from the thyroid gland and increases tissue sensitivity to hormones.

Nutrition– Some foods like soy, broccoli, cabbage are considered to be goitrogensGoitrogens are substances that disrupt the production of thyroid hormones by interfering with iodine uptake in the thyroid gland. Consider a diet that is low in raw goitrogens. It is better to cook them before eating. Cooking lowers the goitrogenic content of foods.

Sometimes an elimination diet and detox are recommended to determine the root cause of the problem.

For more information, book here consultation.

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Pazit Azoulay

Pazit Azoulay is a certified naturopath based in London, member of the following regulatory bodies: NNA, CNHC and GNC.
Paz By Nature ltd website is a health & wellness blog aimed to provide inspiration, healthy recipes and information about natural remedies.

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