Why a Healthy Thyroid Matters

Thyroid function is one of the standard health assessments at Empowered Health. Why? Thyroid health affects energy levels and metabolism. Various factors can negatively impact thyroid function resulting in fatigue, weight gain, anxiety and hair loss (to name a few).

For those unfamiliar with the thyroid gland, it sits in the anterior portion of the neck and produces thyroid hormone (T4), which is then circulated in the body and is utilized by many different cell types. Once inside the cell, it is converted to the active form (T3), which is responsible for helping the body manage energy utilization and metabolism.

Common symptoms when too little T3 is present are:

  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Depressed mood
  • Cold intolerance
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin

Too much T3 can be related to:

  • unexplained weight loss,
  • anxiety,
  • hair loss,
  • diarrhea,
  • palpitations, and
  • heat intolerance.

Interestingly, the conversion of T4 (inactive) to T3 (active) can be decreased by various factors, including stress, infection, and caloric restriction. When this happens, routinely monitored levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) can be normal even though the level of active T3 is deficient.

What can you do?

Recognize the signs of overt thyroid dysfunction and work with a physician to get tested if they are present. If you suspect a dysregulation is present, but standard TSH levels are normal, consider requesting T4 & T3 levels and talk with your doctor about lifestyle factors that may be contributing.

At Empowered Health, we make this part of our standard health assessment.

Regardless, if you currently have or are at risk for thyroid dysfunction, a few small changes can help support the thyroid to improve function and prevent future issues:

  1. Ensure the thyroid is getting all the micronutrients it requires. This includes iodine, iron, vitamin A, zinc, selenium and B vitamins. 

2. Practice a mind-body technique, such as yoga, meditation, or guided-imagery, to decrease the stress response and allow normal conversion of the thyroid hormone to its active form.

3. Limit exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). These are found in certain foods, hand soaps, and other household products. Specific names that have been identified as EDCs are perchlorate, thiocyanide, nitrates, phthalates, BPA, PCBs, triclosan, and other organic solvents. This can seem overwhelming, but a simple way to start is by taking a few moments to read the labels on hygiene products. As you become more familiar with EDCs, choosing products without them becomes easier.

If you suspect your thyroid may be dysfunctional, talk to your healthcare provider about specific testing. Members at Empowered Health receive this testing as part of their standard health assessment and any abnormalities are addressed as part of their health action plan.