Sudden weight gain? Exhausted? Dry skin? Cold all the time? Have trouble losing weight?
These symptoms affect many of the population and are just some of the symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Over twenty million people in the US have problems with their thyroid. Hypothyroidism affects five out of 100 people with women and those over age 60 more likely to develop it.
If you have hypothyroidism your body is not making enough thyroid hormone for your body to function as it should.
Your thyroid is more likely to stop working well and be underactive if:
- You have iodine deficiency
- You were recently pregnant
- You have had radiation treatment to the chest, neck, or thyroid
- You have had a previous thyroid disorder
- You have rheumatoid arthritis
- You have lupus
- You are an insulin dependent diabetic
- You have a B12 vitamin deficiency that has caused a type of anemia called pernicious anemia
The leading cause of hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s disease. This disease causes your immune system to attack your thyroid. This affects how much thyroid hormone your thyroid makes causing it to make less.
Your thyroid is responsible for making sure other functions of the body are running properly such as:
- Your metabolism
- Your heart beat
- Your brain
- Your muscles
Your thyroid produces two important hormones:
- Triiodothyronine also known as T3
- Thyroxine also called T4
When the thyroid does not make enough of these two hormones the result is your body slowing down. When your body slows down, every system slows down as well.
This causes the symptoms of hypothyroidism:
- Weight gain
- Slow heart rate
- Sensitive to cold temperatures
- Dry skin
- Thinning hair
See your doctor if you think you may have a thyroid that is not working well. Since these symptoms of hypothyroidism can be vague and be the result of other illnesses, blood tests must be done:
- Only a doctor can diagnose and tell you if you have hypothyroidism
- A blood test is done to see your level of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH)
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) is also called thyrotropin
- TSH tells the thyroid to make more thyroid hormones
- Your doctor will also check your blood for your levels of the two thyroid hormones (T3 and T4)
Thyrotropin or Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH):
- Stimulates the thyroid gland to make the thyroid hormone thyroxine (T4)
- Stimulates your thyroid gland to make the thyroid hormone triiodothyronine (T3)
If your thyroid-stimulating hormone level is high this means your thyroid is underworking. This indicates hypothyroidism.
Thyroid-stimulating hormone levels increase in hypothyroidism as it is trying its hardest to get the thyroid to make more thyroid hormone.
Treatment for Hypothyroidism
Treatment, or thyroid control, for hypothyroidism, is to replace the hormone your thyroid is no longer making.
Once your doctor finds that your thyroid is not working as it should and you do have hypothyroidism, he or she will prescribe treatment. The widely accepted form of treatment for a low working thyroid is thyroid hormone replacement therapy with levothyroxine.
Levothyroxine is the medication that will be prescribed. It will replace the hormone that your thyroid is no longer making. Levothyroxine is a synthetic T4, thyroid hormone. It is a synthetic form of the thyroxine hormone, T4.
Brand names for levothyroxine are:
- Restores thyroid function
- Restores your thyroid hormone levels
- Restores your thyroid-stimulating hormone levels (TSH)
- Fixes your body systems that were affected
- Your blood will be tested to make sure your TSH and T3 and T4 levels are where they should be
- Treatment will be changed if needed based on regular blood tests
You may be asking, “How do I help my thyroid so it is working as it should?”
Here are some ways for natural thyroid control by helping your thyroid to work well.
Since both T3 and T4 contain iodine, iodine plays an important role in thyroid function. Unfortunately, your body does not create iodine.
You need to eat foods that contain iodine to make sure your thyroid is well. Iodine is needed to prevent hypothyroidism.
Iodine in the body:
- Your body does not make iodine
- Your thyroid is the only part of your body that needs iodine
- Your thyroid needs iodine to make triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4)
- Triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) need iodine as they have iodine
- Iodine deficiency causes hypothyroidism
- Too much iodine can cause hyperthyroidism
Hypothyroidism as a result of lack of iodine in the body is rare in the US. This is because iodine is in your table salt. Iodine is also found in other foods such as:
- Saltwater fish
- Milk, specifically milk from cows
- Shellfish such as shrimp
Be careful with how much iodine you consume as too much can have the reverse affect and cause hyperthyroidism.
Hypothyroidism Natural Treatments
Here are natural ways to keep your thyroid healthy. These are also natural treatments for hypothyroidism in conjunction with levothyroxine therapy.
These natural treatments include:
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin C
- Brazil nuts
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
- Intestinal infections
- Autoimmune gastritis
- H. pylori infection
- Pancreatic diseases
- Aluminum hydroxide antacids like Gaviscon and Mylanta
- Calcium carbonate like Tums and Rolaids
- Coffee (drink it at least 60 minutes before you take levothyroxine)
- Increases the level of Triiodothyronine (T3)
- Increase the level of Thyroxine (T4)
- Decreased levels of TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) also called thyrotropin
Ashwagandha is an herb that has been widely used in medicine in India for centuries. It is known as an apoptogenic herb as it helps your body to adapt to the stresses of life. It is used to improve energy, prevent disease, and to improve overall health.
This herb is beneficial to thyroid health. When taken at a 600 mg dose daily, thyroid function improves. Ashwagandha elevates the levels of both T3 and T4 thyroid hormones. It causes thyroid-stimulating hormone levels to decrease as well.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is common in those who have hypothyroidism especially if hypothyroidism is a result of the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s disease. This causes you to feel even more tired.
Supplementing with B12 vitamin helps to combat the symptoms. Taking B12 vitamin is one of the best vitamins to take for hypothyroidism.
This is even more important if you are vegan as B12 is found primarily in meats, fish oil, and poultry.
Selenium plays a part in making T3 and T4 thyroid hormones. The thyroid needs selenium so it can produce these hormones. The recommended daily allowance of selenium is 55 mcg for adults.
Selenium is found in foods such as:
Be careful in taking selenium supplements as too much selenium causes the thyroid to make too much T3 and T4 thyroid hormones.
It causes hyperthyroidism. Most people get enough selenium in everyday foods. For instance, just 6 to 8 Brazil nuts contain 544 mcg of selenium.
Vitamin C is beneficial in making our immune system stronger. But did you know it is also important for thyroid control? It helps to keep the thyroid healthy as it helps the medication levothyroxine, the thyroid hormone replacement, to work better.
Levothyroxine cannot be properly digested if you have any of the following:
Levothyroxine cannot be properly digested if you take or eat any of the following:
By adding a vitamin C supplement, the acid in the vitamin C helps the levothyroxine to be better absorbed. It has been found that when the vitamin C is taken at the same time as levothyroxine, it:
The amount of vitamin C to take with levothyroxine is 500 mg to 1000 mg. It is one of the best vitamins take-ups for thyroid control.
Although there are natural ways to ensure your thyroid is healthy, as well as natural treatments for hypothyroidism, make sure to talk with your doctor first. He or she knows your health history and whether or not these natural treatments are a good fit for you.
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