Fatigue, anxiety, weight gain? It might be your thyroid

Understanding the thyroid, and how it affects our body’s function

Michelle Gray, Registered Pharmacist and C4 Hormone Replacement Therapy Specialist at Gray’s Compounding Pharmacy. Nicole Leclair Photography.

Michelle Gray, Registered Pharmacist and C4 Hormone Replacement Therapy Specialist at Gray’s Compounding Pharmacy. Nicole Leclair Photography.

The thyroid is a small and powerful endocrine organ that plays a significant role in the body’s health. Every cell in the body is affected by thyroid hormones!

“There’s a lot of information about the thyroid gland, and a variety of ways to interpret lab work,” says Michelle Gray, Registered Pharmacist and C4 Hormone Replacement Therapy Specialist. “Our hormones work together in a delicate balance that’s multifaceted. Symptoms of hormone imbalances are often varied, and affect multiple body systems, so finding the correct treatment takes patience and expertise.”

What does the thyroid do?

  • Controls how quickly the body uses energy.
  • Controls how quickly the body makes proteins.
  • Controls how sensitive the body is to other hormones.
  • Regulates growth, metabolic rate, body heat, energy production.
  • Regulates neuronal and sexual development.

What affects the thyroid’s function?

  • Iodine and other minerals have a direct impact on thyroid function. Too little iodine can lead to hypothyroidism and too much iodine can lead to hyperthyroidism.
  • Stress, especially chronic stress, results in the production of high cortisol, which can block thyroid T4 from converting to T3, the active form of thyroid.
  • Recent research suggests exposure to elements including bromine, arsenic and mercury may cause patients to have difficulty synthesizing adequate amounts of thyroid hormones. This may also explain why the thyroid hormone levels in blood may be normal, but patients suffer from thyroid deficiency symptoms caused by poor intracellular conversion of T4 to T3.
  • Nutritional deficiencies may also block thyroid synthesis and function. Foods, nutritional supplements, contaminated soil, pesticides and other environmental exposures can influence the amount of essential or toxic elements to which we are exposed. High or low levels of these elements in urine can indicate toxicity or deficiency, and help determine whether we are consuming adequate amounts of the good elements.

Iodine and the thyroid

“For the purpose of this article I want to focus on hypothyroidism,” Michelle says. “Symptoms of hypothyroidism can include fatigue, anxiety, weight gain, constipation, depression, hair loss, brittle dry hair and nails, slow heart rate, hypertension and infertility. It is not necessary to test thyroid if there are no symptoms.”

Checking TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) along with free T4 and free T3 is helpful to see the full functional picture of the thyroid. Thyroid hormones are best measured in blood. Iodine, selenium, bromine, arsenic and mercury are best measured in urine; some are essential for the thyroid and some are toxic to the thyroid.

“Iodine is an essential element in the formation of thyroid hormones: low iodine levels are associated with low thyroid hormone production and enlargement of the thyroid gland (goiter) as it attempts to maintain normal production levels of thyroid hormones,” Michelle says. “The inverse side of the problem is you can also have excess iodine. So both excess iodine and iodine deficiency can impair thyroid function and lead to elevated thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels.

Iodine deficiency has greatly decreased in North America since the 1970s, with the introduction of iodized table salt.

Common sources of dietary iodine:

  • Cheese
  • Cow’s milk
  • Eggs
  • Frozen Yogurt
  • Ice Cream
  • Iodine-containing multivitamins
  • Iodized table salt
  • Saltwater fish
  • Seaweed (including kelp, dulce, nori)
  • Shellfish
  • Soy milk
  • Soy sauce
  • Yogurt

If you are experiencing some of the symptoms listed above, talk to your healthcare provider. For a more in-depth look at your thyroid along with elements that may be affecting your thyroid, book an appointment with Michelle Gray, R.Ph, C4 HRT Specialist.

For more information, call 250-427-0038, drop by Gray’s Compounding Pharmacy on 417B 304th Street on Highway 95 in Kimberley, or send a message at facebook.com/grayspharmacy.

With files from ZRTLab.com, MetagenicsInstitute.com, American Thyroid Association

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