Don’t ignore the thyroid gland and iodine

By | December 7, 2008

The thyroid gland is one of the most important endocrine glands in the body. It’s located in the throat area around the area of the Adams apple, and it hardly comes to mind when people think about anti aging. At least I notice it is largely forgotten or ignored by many people when they embark on an anti aging program. That’s because you don’t find much emphasis on the thyroid gland on many sites.

We often neglect the thyroid gland at our own peril. But there is a good reason not to. The thyroid gland produces two primary hormones (TH), called thyroxine and triiodothyronine, or T3 and T4 respectively. These hormones influence our metabolism to a large degree, and are involved with the pituitary gland and hypothalamus as well, being connected to the release of other hormones in the body. The pituitary produces thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) which instructs the thyroid to produce TH, after getting the signal from the hypothalamus. Bottom line, TH is involved in countless body processes, including growth and cell renewal.

The thyroid hormones are composed mainly of iodine, a vital mineral. It has become clear to me that we need more iodine than we think, because current farming practices have denuded the land of this much needed mineral over the past several thousand years. Additionally, there are many areas or regions of the world where iodine was clearly lacking in the soil to begin with.

Also, the fluoride content in tap water displaces iodine in our body and builds up over time, thus making the need for iodine supplementation of high importance if you truly desire good health. Modern day living has put us at the mercy of tons of free radicals and chemicals, both in our food and water, and with iodine deficient diets, has resulted in a high percentage of people short on iodine.

Hypothyroidism or thyroid deficiency has been described as 2 types. In type 1 hypothyrodism, the thyroid does not produce enough TH, and in type 2 hypothyroidism, the body does not seem capable of utilizing the amounts of TH, even though the level may seem normal.

Just because you don’t get goiter doesn’t mean you’re having a healthy thyroid. Hypothyroidism manifests in a variety of symptoms which are often mistaken for other disorders. These include:

  • Dry, flaky skin
  • Coarse hair, like straw
  • Fatigue throughout the day
  • Slow healing of wounds
  • Easy bruising and scarring
  • Low sex drive
  • Sluggish heartbeats
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Lowered immunity
  • Slow physical and mental growth
  • Emotional swings

These symptoms seem quite normal for many people and may even be perceived as old age symptoms, but what many don’t realize is that hypothyroidism is currently estimated to affect a large percentage of the world’s population. Some estimates put it at nearly half the population!

If you suspect you’re having low levels of thyroid hormone (TH) in your bloodstream, and that your thyroid is not functioning properly, it is best to consult your doctor to determine the proper approach to right this problem. In many cases, iodine supplementation can help, but bear in mind that it depends also on the type of problem affecting your thyroid and TH levels.

Iodine is not found in abundance in most of our foods, except mainly in seafoods like kelp, other seaweeds, fish, and shellfish. The rise in sea pollution levels of heavy metals and chemicals poses a hazard though, which is projected to exacerbate in the coming years. You may wish to try an iodine supplement called Lugols solution, which is a formulation of potassium iodide with 2-5% iodine content, and can be bought online from various stores.

Besides iodine, other nutrients needed by your thyroid for proper functioning include the vitamins A, B complex, and C. Don’t forget that stress, environmental pollution, and chemicals in our food and water also debilitate your thyroid and impede it from functioning normally. As such, the quest for our health is an ongoing effort requiring diligence and perseverance at all times from everyone. I for one, certainly wish for an end to the fluoridation of the public water supply – for starters, that is.