Hypothyroidism also known as underactive thyroid is when your thyroid gland is not producing enough thyroid hormones. Signs and symptoms such as dry skin, hair loss, achy muscles and joints, constipation, cold hands and feet, weight gain, fatigue, and depression may be present.
The two main hormones produced by the thyroid gland are T3 and T4. T4 is the most abundant thyroid hormone in the body which makes up 80% of body’s thyroid hormones and it is also the precursor to T3 which makes up about 20% of body’s thyroid hormones. T3 is the more active form of thyroid hormone. T4 acts more as a stored hormone, used as needed to be converted to active T3. In the case of an underactive thyroid, we often see T4 levels diminishing which in turn also eventually lead to low levels of T3. There are however other cases of hypothyroidism where there is sufficient levels of T4 but because it is not being properly converted to T3, we see low levels of T3.
Now that we have looked at how these two hormones work, the role of iodine in thyroid health can be better understood. Iodine is an essential mineral that contributes to the formation of thyroid hormones. Three molecules of iodine are needed to make T3 and four molecules of iodine to make T4. This is why the thyroid gland is dependent on iodine in order to produce thyroid hormones.
Iodine can be found in seafood such as cod and sea vegetables such as wakame, dulse and nori. Kelp supplements are also available as a source of iodine.
Although iodine is useful for many cases of hypothyroidism, there are some cases (specifically if there is an autoimmune component involved) that may not require iodine. Always consult your naturopathic doctor before initiating a new regimen.
Wellness Naturopathic Centre, North Vancouver, BC
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