Your thyroid is a small, butterfly shaped gland located underneath your Adam's apple at the base of your neck. The thyroid produces hormones that have a huge impact on your health. It affects all aspects of your metabolism - from the rate at which you burn calories to how quickly your heart beats.
If your thyroid is working normal and releasing the correct amount of hormones, your body functions correctly. But sometimes the thyroid does not produce enough hormones which upsets the balance of chemical reactions within the body; this is referred to hypothyroidism.
1 in 5 women will develop a thyroid disorder and 13 million cases go undetected. Thyroid disorders are ten times more common in women then men but if you are a man don't think it can't happen to you.
The signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism will depend on the severity of the hormone deficiency. Any problems you do have will develop slowly over time, becoming more severe within a number of years.
Signs And Symptoms Of Hypothyroidism
- You haven't been feeling like yourself lately - If you have a significant change in your mood and energy levels that has lasted 2 months or longer, get tested.
- You've plucked out gray hairs since before you turned 30 - This is a sign of being at higher risk for autoimmune disorder where your immune system attacks your thyroid.
- You have high blood pressure or cholesterol - If there is a shortage of hormones in the body, the heart muscle contracts more slowly and the blood vessels become stiffer which can lead to cardiovascular problems.
- You've switched birth controls because of side effects - If the pill makes you feel bloated and exhausted it may be a red flag that lower levels of thyroid hormones circulate through your body.
- You've had trouble getting pregnant - Low levels of thyroid hormones will create irregularity of your menstrual cycle and cause decreased fertility. It will also increase your risk of having miscarriages.
- If you are 35 or older - A family history of thyroid problems or not, you still may want to get checked. 21% of women develop a thyroid issue some time during their life.
- Unexplained weight gain - Your metabolism cannot perform at it's peak without the correct amounts of hormones secreted by the thyroid.
- Muscle weakness
- Pale, dry skin
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Increase your iodine intake - Iodine is a trace mineral and is needed for thyroid hormone production. It can be found in seafood; a seaweed supplement would be an excellent choice. You'll need about 150 micro grams a day.
- Add selenium to your diet - Selenium is a mineral also needed for thyroid hormone production and can be found in tuna, brown rice or Brazil nuts. Try to get 55 micro grams a day.
- Go easy on soy - The isoflavones in soy can interfere with the production and use of thyroid hormones. Consume less than 50 milligrams of isoflavones a day. A cup of soy milk contains 20-35 milligrams.
- Buy bottled water - Fluoride, found in drinking water, may hinder the thyroid function. Check to see if your water is fluoridated and if it is, switch to bottled water. Also, rinse twice after brushing your teeth to avoid consuming fluoride which is found in many toothpastes.
- Avoid stress - Stress affects the body's production of steroids which can hinder the secretion of the thyroid-stimulating hormone. Increased anxiety can increase your chances of developing a thyroid disorder.
- Eat plenty of fish - Omega-3 fatty acids are important in the maintenance of cell membranes, which help transport thyroid hormones throughout the body. Try to eat 3 oz of a fatty fish like salmon, mackerel or sardines 2X's a week. A liquid fish oil supplement is great for those who do not like fish.