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Home > Research Department  > Health Concerns Articles > Hypothyroid / Low Thyroid
    Health Concerns Articles  
LOW THYROID:  HYPOTHYROIDISM
Articles by a Naturopathic Doctor ( N.D.)

ENERGIZE IN SPITE OF LOW THYROID

Your thyroid is located in the neck and iodine is required for efficient thyroid function.
Often misdiagnosed as simple depression,  low thyroid can respond well to lifestyle changes, the right diet, and the proper supplements...

Low thyroid has become a very common health concern with very real symptoms that affect both a person’s physical as well as emotional health.   Many people may have it yet do not know;  in fact, it can go undiagnosed for many years because the “normal” level of thyroid hormones can vary from person to person.

Many natural health care practitioners prefer the reliability of the basal temperature test (done in the morning) because it can identify people with borderline low thyroid. Low thyroid causes the body to be slightly colder than a healthy person.  While only the difference of at the most two degrees, it can have broad ranging effects on many different functions of the body resulting in many different symptoms.

Firstly, in a hypothyroid state the body’s metabolic rate is decreased. This is why most people with low thyroid experience weight gain.  Secondly, lower levels of thyroid hormones can affect the production of neurotransmitters and how well they are used in the brain and other parts of the body - this can lead to common low thyroid symptoms like depression, anxiety, poor memory, and insomnia.   In this respect, it can also affect digestion because enzymes, just like neurotransmitters, do not function as they should when the body temperature is lowered -  this can result in poor digestion of food, which can be manifested as gas, upset stomach, heartburn or constipation.   The hormone insulin (responsible for regulating the level of sugar in the blood) is equally affected lower temperatures in the body and explains why many with low thyroid often experience fluctuations in blood sugar like yo-yoing effect of hypoglycemia.  Some of these may need to be treated along with the low thyroid.
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IODINE & LOW THYROID


Iodine is a mineral needed for all aspect of your health. Potassium iodide is a salt of stable iodine. For the most part, we can get adequate amounts of stable iodine from the foods that we eat. Potassium iodide is a medicinal form of stable iodine.

Following a radiological or nuclear event, radioactive iodine is released into the air, and taken up through our lungs when we breathe. It can also contaminate local food supply and water supply and be ingested. Once present in the body, the thyroid gland will begin to rapidly absorb it/take it up. Potassium iodide competes with radioactive iodine at receptor sites. It fills these sites and prevents the thyroid from taking up any of the radioactive substance. Its action at these receptor sites lasts 24 hours, meaning the thyroid is unable to take up any iodine – stable or radioactive – during that time.

Often difficult to get from the diet, iodine is an essential trace mineral necessary for overall health. Your thyroid gland needs this mineral to manufacture optimum levels of the thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothryonine (T3). These hormones – based on iodine and the amino acid tyrosine – regulate your body's overall metabolism and also play a regulating role for other hormones produced by the body.

When there is not enough iodine present, your thyroid (located in the throat area) is unable to produce enough thyroid hormone causing weight gain, low energy, poor concentration (brain fog), depression, blood sugar fluctuations and other symptoms.

It is important to understand that potassium iodide does not protect the body as a whole from radioactive iodine, nor does it prevent any other body part from taking it up. It's actions are very specific to the thyroid. It has no effect on other radioactive elements, like cesium, nor the effects these elements may have on the body.

Infants and children are at the highest risk of developing thyroid cancer due to an accumulation of radioactive iodine. Infants who are breast feeding still need some sort of supplementation, as the breast milk will not contain enough stable iodine to protect the infant from exposure. It is recommended that adults (18+) take a dose of 130 mg (or two 65 mg tabs), children ages 3-18 years should take only 65 mg, unless adult sized (at this time the adult dose is recommended). Infants and children between 1mos – 3 years are recommended to take 32 mg. And newborns are told to take 16 mg.

A one time dose of potassium iodide is usually all that is recommended . If there is a threat that radioactive iodine will be in the environment for longer than 24 hours, public health officials may inform the public to take the supplement for a few days in a row. Please ask the advice of your local healthcare practitioner or public health agency. There are several health risks associated with high dosage or long-term dosage of potassium iodide, especially in infants and children, or those with a pre- existing thyroid condition. Taking more than is recommended for a longer period of time will not offer any more protection and may be putting these individuals at risk.

Iodine has become so difficult to get in the diet that staple foods like salt are now enriched with iodine. In the case of iodized salt the inorganic form of iodine is added. Natural, organic sources, such as those derived from the seaweeds kelp and bladderwrack are much more absorbable and easier for the thyroid gland to use that the inorganic (mined) sources used to enrich foods.

In a supplement form, iodine is usually derived from natural seaweed sources and is available in both liquid and capsule, or tablet, forms. The standardized types of these supplements contain a higher level of iodine and a consistent amount in each tablet – usually about 150mcg. This is the preferred form for clinical use in low thyroid conditions, while the un-standardized kelp is suitable for people in need of a daily supplement.
_______________________________________________________________

CAUSES & SYMPTOMS OF A LOW THYROID

Low thyroid can also:  lower immune system function, cause dry skin, lower blood pressure and raise cholesterol, promote water retention, cause menstrual irregularities in women, cause muscle aches and pain, and create allergies.  Hypothyroid sufferers also report fatigue, an increased need for sleep, decreased initiative, lack of concentration, poor memory, bowel changes, muscle and joint aches, and asthma.  Because of the broad range of effects that low thyroid has on over all health, it is important that it be treated.  Left untreated long term hypothyroidism can cause serious concerns that can affect your quality of life.

There can be many causes of low thyroid, including:  hormonal changes (especially during pregnancy), lack of iodine in the diet, an abnormal immune system reaction (as in Hashimoto’s), heredity, stress,  treatment for an overactive thyroid, chemical pollutants and heavy metal poisoning.  It is important to discover the exact cause of low thyroid so that the root cause can be treated.

What you can do:

- STAY ACTIVE;  IT WILL HELP REDUCE STRESS AND IMPROVE YOUR METABOLISM
- EAT PLENTY OF VEGETABLES
- DO NOT DRINK BEVERAGES WITH CAFFEINE
- EAT REGULAR MEALS;  DO NOT SKIP.  SKIPPING MEALS REDUCES THYROID FUNCTION
- TAKE SUPPLEMENTS TO IMPROVE YOUR MOOD IF DEPRESSED
- TAKE KELP
- STAY POSITIVE
- DO A REGULAR TEMPERATURE TEST IN THE MORNING

DID YOU KNOW?

- LOW THYROID CAN BE HEREDITARY
- THE THYROID GLAND ALSO PRODUCES A HORMONE CALLED "CALCITONIN" WHICH IS PARTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ABSORPTION OF CALCIUM.

Conventional treatment of hypothyroidism involves supplementation with synthetic thyroid hormone.

Most hypothyroid patients benefit from T4 supplementation but it must be converted by the body into active T3.  In a small percentage of people this conversion is inadequate.  They require medication that contains both T3 and T4.

Side effects of these medications cause similar symptoms to hyperthyroidism.  They can also cause a loss of bone mass.  Many medications can interact with thyroid medication.

Talk to a health professional to determine the best time to take your medication.  Avoid taking thyroid medication with calcium supplements.

Nutritional support for an under active thyroid gland can include among many other supplements, thyroid glandular extract.  Thyroid glandular boosts the activity of your own thyroid gland, optimizing its production T3 and T4.  Ensuring that your are getting enough of important nutrients like iodine and tyrosine is crucial for natural thyroid support.  Please see the table below for extensive information about which supplements can be used as part of a thyroid support regimen.

Exercise is important when you have low thyroid.  Daily aerobic exercise stimulates the thyroid gland and improves the use of thyroid hormone in the body.  Saunas, steam baths and dry skin brushing stimulate the thyroid.  Regular detoxification programs are important because low thyroid can cause you to retain more toxins than a healthy person.
Toxicity may also play a role in the development of the disorder itself.

Dietary treatment of hypothyroidism involves ensuring adequate iodine, copper, zinc, selenium, vitamin A and vitamin E intake.  Consume the following foods: seaweeds, fish, clams, lobster, oysters, eggs, natural yogurt, unhomogenized milk, raw wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, beet greens, parsley and carrots.  Avoid chlorinated and fluoridated water because they block iodine receptors in the thyroid.  Avoid broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, peaches, pears, rutabagas, soybeans, onions, spinach and turnips because they suppress thyroid hormone function.

Overall, once you know you have low thyroid, half the battle is over. You might notice that when you are under stress that your symptoms of low thyroid are more pronounced.  It is important - as with any major health concern – that you maintain a positive attitude and remain focused on your treatment protocol.  Dealing with low thyroid can be frustrating, but not as frustrating as letting the symptoms go untreated.

The following list of supplements can be used for hypothyroidism.  (CLICK SUPPLEMENT NAME FOR PRODUCTS).

SUPPLEMENT DOSAGE THERAPEUTIC EFFECT
Kelp 2000-3000mg daily Contains iodine and trace minerals.
L-tyrosine 500mg twice daily, on an empty stomach with water or juice only Used to make thyroid hormones. Low levels of tyrosine are correlated with hypothyroidism. Do not take if you are using MAO inhibitors.
ginkgo 120-240mg twice daily Gives the brain a boost. Use if having trouble concentrating.  Improves circulation.
St. John's wort As directed Use in cases of low thyroid when there is depression or anxiety
5htp 50-100mg twice daily Optimizes neurotransmitter production.
Adrenal support formula As directed Fights stress.  Optimizes adrenal function, which is often lowered in cases of low thyroid.  Use one with licorice,
Whey protein 1 scoop twice daily Supplies amino acids needed for optimum hormone production.
greens supplement two tablespoons daily Provides important nutrients
B complex 50-100mg twice daily Helps the body cope with stress.  Needed to make hormones.
chromium 200-400mcg daily Needed to stabilize blood sugar which is often erratic in people with low thyroid
3-6-9 Essential fats 2000-6000mg daily Needed to optimize hormone production. 
Vitamin A 25 000IU daily Helps produce thyroid hormone.  Do not take if you are pregnant.
Vitamin C with bioflavinoids 1000mg daily Helps produce thyroid hormone.
Zinc and copper 15mg daily and copper 3 mg daily Helps produce thyroid hormone.
Vitamin E 400IU daily Helps to assimilate iodine.
Also beneficial for LOW THYROID SUPPORT: Multivitamins, vitamin B complex, pyridoxal-5-phosphate, iron, selenium, L-tryptophan, thyroid glandular, bayberry, black cohosh, mugwort, gentian.
For informational purposes only.  Please consult your health care practitioner before taking natural health care products. Click here for full disclaimer.


All articles copyright National Nutrition 2001 - 2013.  For educational purposes only.  Please note that while National Nutrition supports your right to use natural health care products for any therapeutic purpose that you see fit, that the information on this website should not be considered as a claim or as a substitute for medical advice.

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