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Thursday, January 29, 2015

How's Your Thyroid?

The thyroid is an important gland for it controls many systems in your body.  It's a big player in your immune system.  20 years ago a doctor who I respected about told that historically, pneumonia as a cause of death in the elderly might have actually begin as a low thyroid. 

So how is yours?  Here is a checklist of symptoms that may be signs of a low thyroid.

___Tiredness, exhaustion, needing an afternoon nap
___Depression, sadness, down mood
___Feeling cold when others are ok, cold hands and or feet
___Inappropriate weight gain, difficulty losing weight
___Hair loss, particularly in outer third of eyebrows
___Dry or tangly hair
___Breaking, splitting, brittle nails
___Muscle or joint pain, fibromyalgia
___Chronic fatigue syndrome
___Carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis in arms or legs
___Swelling or puffiness around eyes, face, arms or legs
___Low sex drive
___Mitral Valve prolapse, or heart palpitations
___Infertility, or recurrent miscarriages
___Heavier than normal menstrual cycles, longer, or more frequent
___Troublesome menopause symptoms
___Worsening allergies
___Stomach and abdominal bloating
___Anemia or hemachromatosis (excess iron)
___Difficulty concentrating, poor memory, slow thinking, forgetting words
­­___Swelling in neck region or full feeling
___More infections than usual, lowered resistance
___Asthma-like feelings
___Ringing in the ears (tinitus)
___Vertigo or dizziness
___Eye problems
___High blood pressure which does NOT respond to exercise or losing weight
___Unusually slow heartbeat not connected to a regimen of running
___Inability to sweat
The variety in the above list reflects the importance of the thyroid hormones in just about every system in the body. 
Women are particularly prone to low thyroid in middle age and beyond.  If you have three or more of those symptoms, consider addressing this problem.
Why so much hypo-thyroidism? Like all the things that ail us--big and small--this too starts with chronic inflammation that damages tissues.  I talk often and at length about things that we eat that cause inflammation (sugar, grains, vegetable oils among some).  But deficiencies can also cause inflammation.  The biggie for the thyroid is iodine.  The name of the thyroid hormone that does the work is tri-iodo-thyronine (hyphens are mine),  For every molecule of T-3, there are three molecules of iodine attached.  Not enough iodine equals not enough thyroid hormone.  Iodine deficiency is prevalent world wide where seafood is less available.  It is also the leading cause of preventable developmental mental retardation in the world. 
Iodine is concentrated in not only the thyroid gland, but in breast tissues and reproductive organs which is no doubt why women need more.  It's lack is implicated in breast cancer.
The US recommended daily requirement is 100 to 150 micrograms, but the RDA in Europe is 600 micrograms.  Even so, both are extremely conservative compared to the amount consumed by the Japanese with their consumption of sea vegetables (seaweeds) of about 60,000 micrograms per day.  The Japanese have lower levels of breast, endometrial and ovarian cancer and less fibrocystic breast disease than American and Europeans.  In supplemental doses ranging from 5 milligrams (6000 micrograms) to 90 mg (90,000 mcg) a day, people reported feeling healthier, have a greater sense of well-being s well as the elimination of fibrocystic breast pain at least 70% of the time. 
So if you have symptoms of low thyroid, check your iodine intake.  Supplement.  ANd get rid of the other things which cause chronic inflammation!

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