hypothyroidismHypothyroidism – This is a condition that occurs when there is not enough thyroid hormone circulating in the body. It is diagnosed by a blood test. Eight out of ten patients with thyroid disease are women. By age 60, as many as 17 percent of women and nine percent of men are hypothyroid. Normal thyroid hormone levels are very individual, and it is common for a person to be “within normal range” on their blood tests and still exhibit low thyroid level symptoms.

Hypothyroid individuals don’t make enough hydrochloric acid, which is necessary for absorption of B12 and calcium. Therefore, anemia and muscle cramps can result. They don’t metabolize fats correctly; fat is stored, rather than converted to energy, typically resulting in weight gain. Hypothyroid nursing mothers may not metabolize essential fatty acids properly, which results in eczema in the baby. A healthy thyroid is essential to normal fetal development. Hypothyroid is the most common of the thyroid dysfunctions.

Thyroid Function

  • In bone metabolism, it is responsible for producing and storing calcitonin, a calcium regulating hormone that works with the parathyroid gland to control calcium levels in the blood.
  • Constipation can occur from a low functioning thyroid gland because it slows down the amount of time it takes for food to move through the intestines, which can also create an environment for yeast overgrowth and bacterial infections. This can also lead to poor nutrient absorption, inflammation and allergies.
  • The inability to lose weight is a very common sign of hypothyroidism. This is because the thyroid gland is responsible for metabolism and low thyroid makes it harder for the body to burn fat because it shuts down the sites on cells that respond to lipase (the enzyme that metabolizes fat), hinders the human growth hormone responsible for building muscle, and the fat burning adrenal hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine can’t function properly.
  • The function of the liver and gallbladder cannot be understated, and with low thyroid function the entire detoxification process becomes sluggish and can lead to gallstones.
  • Brain fog is another common sign of a poorly working thyroid gland. This is because glucose metabolism is affected, which means the brain (which is a major consumer of glucose) is not receiving what it needs to think clearly and sharply. This can also lead to hypoglycemia and a signal to the adrenal glands to release stress hormones to make up for the energy deficiency, eventually leading to adrenal fatigue.

Symptoms

Fatigue, depression, difficulty concentrating, difficulty getting up in the morning, cold hands and feet or intolerance to cold, constipation, loss of hair, fluid retention, dry skin, poor resistance to infection, weight gain, high cholesterol, psoriasis, eczema, acne, premenstrual syndrome, loss of menstrual periods, miscarriage, painful or irregular menstrual periods, excessive menstrual bleeding, infertility (male or female), fibrocystic breast disease and ovarian cysts.

Causes of hypothyroidism

The thyroid is depressed by smoking, fluoride in water, brominated vegetable oils (often in sodas, Gatorade, Powerade and other sports drinks) and bromide pesticides (common in non-organic strawberries), acid drugs in plastic, sulfa drugs, antibiotics, cortisone, frequent crash diets, stress, sugar, low iodine in soils, radiation, and certain medications. Some of the causes of hypothyroidism include nodules, goiter, thyroid cancer and Hashimoto’s disease.

Testing

Blood tests at a laboratory. Be sure your physician orders a “Full Thyroid Panel” to determine thyroid function. This will include:

  • Free T4 test (low)
  • Total T4
  • Serum TSH (high)
  • T3 (low or normal)

Free T4: The normal range is 0.7 to 2.0. Anything less than 0.7 is considered indicative of possible hypothyroidism.

Total T4: The normal range is 4.5 to 12.5. Less than 4.5 can be indicative of an under functioning thyroid when TSH is also elevated.  Low T4 can indicate hyperthyroidism, and low T4 and TSH together can indicate a pituitary gland problem. Low thyroxine is caused by a manganese deficiency.

TSH: The ideal result is 1.50. The normal range is .3 to 5.5. Over 5.5 is considered hypothyroidism, while under .3 is considered hyperthyroidism.

T3: Variable per individual. The normal range is 80 to 220, with less than 80 indicating possible hyothyroidism.

Restricted Foods or in Small Moderation:

1. Sugar, non-sourdough versions of wheat, soy oil, corn oil, canola oil. sunflower, safflower and all other vegetable oils (they all block thyroid secretion).

2. Goitrogens are only a problem when iodine is deficient. Goitrogens are highest in raw foods, but still present in cooked and fermented foods. These include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, soy, millet and bok choy.

Beneficial Foods:

Sea vegetables, brazil nuts (eat 2 a day for selenium) radishes (contains a sulphur compound that regulates thyroixine and calcitonin), carrots, cucumber, lemon, cranberries, coconut oil, free range chicken, grass-fed beef, wild salmon, coconut oil, organic vegetables and fruits (all except for the ones listed previously), filtered water (tap water may be high in fluoride).

Soy Consumption and the Thyroid

Soybeans contain the phytoestrogens genistein and daidzein which have been found to inhibit thyroid peroxidase (TPO), the key enzyme in thyroid hormone synthesis. The major concern of soy’s anti-thyroid actions are in non-fermented soy products used in infant formulas and many vegetarian meat substitutes. When soy is fermented, such as in the case of natto, miso or tempeh, the negative aspects of soy are neutralized however goitrogens are still present. In Japan, miso soup often contains soy, seaweed (iodine) and bok choy.

The Liver and Thyroid Function

The liver is also suspect when the thyroid malfunctions. Stagnation of the liver affects the ability of the thyroid to function properly. It is important to regularly use methods of detoxification for the liver, milk thistle, etc. Fat metabolism can become very difficult for a congested liver, therefore only certain fats should be eaten. These include: raw seeds and nuts, avocado, non-hydrogenated nut butters, virgin olive oil, coconut oil (this actually supports the thyroid) and sesame oil. Avoid all vegetable oils.

Supplementation

*Please see your nutritionist or health care practitioner for a custom program. Each individual program will be different depending on many factors.

1. Citramins II

This contains many important thyroid nutrients including selenium, iodine, zinc and magnesium. Selenium is involved in the conversion of T3 to T4. Mercury will displace selenium, so make sure to avoid larger fish. The thyroid glands requires sufficient iodine to function properly. Zinc signals the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones.

2. Virgin Cod Liver Oil or Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil

Contains vitamin A, D and omega-3’s. People with hypothyroidism have trouble converting beta-carotene to vitamin A, and need to supplement with vitamin A. Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for glandular function, dry skin and supports healthy thyroid levels. Vitamin D levels should be between 35-50 ng/ml.

3. B-Complex Plus

Needed for thyroid function, healthy hair and nails, blood formation, energy levels, enzymes, immune function and antibody production. Methylfolate and methyl-B12 are the right forms to take.

4. C-Salts Buffered Vitamin C

Vitamin C is very important for the adrenal/thyroid connection.

Sources:

1. Divi, R.L. and Doerge, D.R. Inhibition of thyroid peroxidase by dietary flavonoids. Chem. Res. Tox. 9:16-23,

2. Kharrazian, Datis DHSc, DC, MS. Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms When My Lab Tests are Normal? Morgan James Publishing, LLC. 2010.

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