By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
The thyroid is a bowtie type of gland that sits just below the Adam’s apple. It regulates your metabolism and weight, and thyroid hormones are required for almost every physiological process in your body.
The thyroid secretes a hormone called T4 that gets converted into an active thyroid hormone called T3 which is needed for all cells of the body to be metabolically active.
T4 is inactive, while T3 is active. 20% of this important conversion happens at the thyroid gland. The other 80% happens peripherally. Out of the 80% that happens peripherally, 60% is converted in the liver, 20% is in the healthy gut bacteria, and the other 20% is via healthy adrenal function and stress regulation
Signs and symptoms of a potential thyroid issue include:
Unexplained weight gain
Fatigue and tiredness/energy issues
Numb or tingling fingers/toes
Menstrual and fertility problems, PMS,
Thinning of outer third of eyebrows
Dry, flakey skin
Poor concentration and memory
*Thyroid vs. Adrenals*
It’s important to note that adrenal fatigue is often found alongside thyroid disease, and many of the symptoms of the two overlap, so it is important to look at the thyroid and the adrenals side-by-side. Remember, 20% of the T3 conversion process relies on healthy adrenal function and stress response. One huge step you can take to support both the adrenals and the thyroid is by paying attention to your iron levels. Low iron is linked to low cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenals which is necessary for proper thyroid function.
DIET, HORMONES, LIFES
We want to look at the body as a whole in dealing with thyroid issues: hormones, diet, lifestyle and nutrition. To avoid supplement overload, the first thing we want to do is to clear out all the dietary and lifestyle sources of stress on the liver. This means cutting out aspartame, junk food loaded with additives, gluten, and anything else the liver has to work extra hard to detox. As we learned earlier, 60% of T4→T3 conversion happens in the liver. Because our liver is always giving detoxification support, we want to take off excess stress (and stop giving our liver stress to detox in the first place), then use supplements such as Liver Supreme.
Selenium: The thyroid is our organ with the highest selenium content and is necessary for production of T3. It can reduce autoimmune issues, as well as decreasing anti-thyroid antibody levels. Besides supplementation, whole foods sources of selenium include grass-fed beef, beef liver, eggs, chicken, spinach, brazil nuts, and yellowfin tuna.
B Vitamins: Thiamine and vitamin B12 help balance hormones, and aid in combatting chronic fatigue. Vegans and vegetarians need to pay special attention as they are much more likely to be deficient in these essential nutrients. Beef liver, sardines, grass-fed beef, eggs, lamb, raw milk and cheese, and salmon are great sources of these vitamins.
Probiotics: Healthy gut bacteria balance is vital for a healthy self. Thyroid conditions have been linked to leaky gut (when proteins such as gluten can leak through the gut and get into the bloodstream, which causes inflammation throughout the body, including the thyroid). 20% of T4→T3 conversion happens in the gut. Probiotic-rich foods include sauerkraut, kombucha, kvass, kefir, and natto.
Iodine: Iodine deficiency is often linked to hypothyroidism. Iodine can be found in whole foods such as fish, sea vegetables, eggs, raw dairy, and seaweed. For 10% of people, iodine can resolve thyroid disfunction, though those with Hashimoto’s should avoid higher dose iodine supplementation, as it can potentially aggravate the autoimmune condition especially in the environment of low iodine.
Tyrosine: In a process called iodination, iodine, tyrosine and thyroglobulin bind together in making your T4 molecule. Tyrosine is found in protein-rich foods such as chicken, turkey, almonds, avocados, beef, and eggs.
Zinc: Zinc is required for T4 to convert to T3, and is also required for T3 to function properly. Zinc impacts many areas of your health, including digestion, skin and eyes, the immune system, omega-3 fatty acid metabolism, and thyroid function. Zinc is found in red meat, pork, oysters, and chicken.
Fat-soluble vitamins: Many essential vitamins and nutrients required fat to be properly absorbed and used by the body. For example, high cortisol levels are associated with low vitamin D levels. But if you are on a low fat diet, you are not going to be absorbing as much vitamin D as you might expect. It is important to have quality sources of fat, such as grass-fed butter, in order to get the full benefits of your supplements.
Vitamin C: The adrenal gland contains the highest concentration of vitamin C in the body, and as we know, there is correlation between adrenal function and thyroid function.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Can help “decrease inflammation and help with immunity” for thyroid support. Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids can increase thyroid hormone uptake.
Iron: Research shows correlation between low iron and low cortisol, and cortisol is necessary to convert and activate T4 to T3.
Glandular supplements like Thyro Balance can be beneficial for individuals not getting adequate daily nutrients, particularly those that support the adrenal and thyroid glands. Another supplement that helps provide extra nutrients for thyroid hormones synthesis and T4 to T3 conversion is Thyro Replete.
Conventional medicine generally takes one of three routes in dealing with thyroid issues.
If a patient is labeled as having Hashimoto’s or hypothyroidism, they are prescribed Synthroid. Most people that are given Synthroid, synthetic T4, don’t convert it to T3, leaving them with tons of thyroid symptoms.
If they’re diagnosed with Graves’, doctors typically just want to perform a thyroidectomy- meaning they pull the thyroid out!
Thirdly, they might want to use radioactive iodine, and shut the thyroid gland down.
The majority of people have hypothyroidism/Hashimoto’s, meaning there are underlying issues affecting thyroid T4-T3 conversion outside of their control, and the mainstream medicine routes aren’t going to tackle the real root of the problem.
While supplementation is valuable and always available for extra support, a balanced life and a healthy diet are the necessary foundation pieces for proper thyroid function.
If you are looking for supplementation to help your thyroid, we offer thyroid support in our store.
To listen to Dr. Justin’s podcast with Evan Brand on the thyroid, check out podcast #54.