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Ever wonder what regulates your metabolism? The thyroid gland. The thyroid is a fascinating and integral part of the body. Derived from the Greek word meaning shield, resembles the shape of a butterfly and is located in front of the windpipe (called the trachea) just below the larynx or Adam’s apple in the neck. According to The American Thyroid Association (ATA) Reports:1

  • An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. Thyroid disease is any dysfunction of the gland.
  • Up to 60 percent of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition.
  • Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems.
  • One woman in eight will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime.
  • Most thyroid diseases are life-long conditions. The good news, most can be managed by seeking medical attention.

So, What is the Thyroid Gland?

The thyroid gland intertwines with our endocrine system, which is made up of glands that produce, store, and releases hormones directly into the bloodstream carrying the hormones towards our organs.1 The thyroid produces and releases two main types of hormones:

  • Thyroxine, known as T4, and;
  • Triiodothyronine, known as T3.

What Do Thyroid Hormones Do?

Thyroid hormones regulate many important biochemical reactions, including protein synthesis and enzymatic activity, and are critical determinants of your bodies metabolism. They also help with proper skeletal and central nervous system development in fetuses and infants.2 The thyroid gland takes iodine, found in many foods and iodized salt, and converts it into the thyroid hormones.

Why Do Our Bodies Need Iodine?

Our bodies need iodine to enable the thyroid gland to make thyroid hormones for proper bone and brain development during pregnancy and infancy. Then after birth, our bodies continue to need iodine to enable the thyroid gland to create the T4 and T3 hormones so the body can control its metabolism and many other important functions.

What is the Function of the Thyroid Gland?

The thyroid is like an alternator in a car, without it everything shuts down. Every cell in the body depends upon thyroid hormones for regulation for their metabolism. Metabolism is the way the body uses energy. The thyroid’s hormones regulate vital body functions including:

  • breathing,
  • heart rate,
  • central and peripheral nervous systems,
  • body weight,
  • muscle strength,
  • menstrual cycles,
  • body temperature,
  • cholesterol levels,
  • and more!

Five Ways You Can Protect Your Thyroid

1. Increase vegetable and fruit intake. Eat blueberries, cranberries, spinach, kale, and artichokes, to name a couple. Discover ways you can work these into your daily diet.3,4

2. Aerobic exercise. Intense aerobic activity has been shown to help with higher levels of circulating thyroid hormones. Aerobic exercise is any exercise which increases the target heart rate for 30 minutes.5

3. Avoid processed and refined foods. Pre-packaged and processed foods are not substantial ways to consume iodine for thyroid health. Plus, they can be high in sodium, saturated fat, and preservatives.6,7

4. Avoid alcohol and tobacco products. Caffeine and alcohol intake increases the risk of thyroid disease.8,9

5. Iodine. Iodine can be eaten as a dietary form by consuming foods grown in soil with the appropriate iodine content, such as:

  • mushrooms, onions, and garlic.
  • meat from organic grass-fed animals.
  • table salt that has been supplemented with iodine. Sea Salts have also become a popular substitute for table salt.
  • Remember: processed foods and refined foods do not have iodine added. You may suffer from a lack of iodine, or iodine deficiency when you don’t eat enough table salt because this is the primary source of iodine you get daily.10,11

5 Supplements That Aid Thyroid Health

1. Vitamin A. Taking vitamin A as a supplement has been found to regulate thyroid metabolism and was associated with decreased thyroid hormone levels in obese and non-obese patients. A dosage of 25,000 IU a day is recommended to maintain healthy thyroid function.14

2. L-Tyrosine. An amino acid necessary for the manufacture of thyroid hormones can be taken alone or as a component of a nutritional supplement. L-Tyrosine has been shown to help during times of stress and fatigue.15

3. Coleus forskohlii. Taking the tropical perennial plant known as Coleus Forskohlii as a supplement has been used in Ayurvedic medicine and other traditions for a variety of ailments, including heart and respiratory disorders. Studies show it helps enhance proper uptake of iodine into the thyroid cells (thyrocytes).16

4. Guggul resin extract (Commiphora mukul). Guggul Myrrh is a herb that benefits the thyroid and the body in many ways. Resin from the Guggul plant has been used as a medical supplement since at least 600 BCE. It is beneficial for the thyroid as it supports the normalization of T3/T4 levels, supports the thyroid’s ability to properly absorb iodine, and supports the activity of some important thyroid enzymes. It has also been reported to support normal blood sugar and healthy weight. It benefits the thyroid and supports a normal inflammatory response.6 *Note, avoid with hyperthyroidism.11

5. Burdock root (Arctium lappa). Burdock Root has long been used as a supplement to support the thyroid nutritionally and is sometimes used in products that are given to people who take synthetic thyroid medicines. Burdock contains minerals and phytonutrients which appear to support proper thyroid function.17 Knowledge is power, share yours. We would love to hear about your recipes and tips you use to help protect and keep your thyroid healthy.

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