Iodine is a trace element that is naturally present in some foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. Iodine is an essential component of the thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Thyroid hormones regulate many important biochemical reactions, including protein synthesis and enzymatic activity, and are critical determinants of metabolic activity. They are also required for proper skeletal and central nervous system development in fetuses and infants.
The following are symptoms of hypothyroidism, as detailed by the Merck Manual, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, and the Thyroid Foundation of America:
gaining weight inappropriately
unable to lose weight with diet/exercise
constipated, sometimes severely
low body temperature (feel cold when others feel hot/need extra sweaters, etc.)
run down, sluggish, lethargic
hair is coarse and dry, breaking, brittle, falling out
skin is coarse, dry, scaly, and thick
hoarse or gravely voice
puffiness and swelling around the eyes and face
pains, aches in joints, hands and feet
carpal-tunnel syndrome, or it’s getting worse
irregular menstrual cycles (longer, or heavier, or more frequent)
trouble conceiving a baby
moods change easily feelings of worthlessness difficulty concentrating feelings of sadness losing interest in normal daily activities more forgetful lately
The following are additional symptoms, which have been reported more frequently in people with hypothyroidism:
hair is falling out
can’t seem to remember things
no sex drive
more frequent infections, that last longer
snoring more lately
have/may have sleep apnea
shortness of breath and tightness in the chest
feel the need to yawn to get oxygen
eyes feel gritty and dry and/or sensitive to light
eyes get jumpy/tics in eyes, which makes me dizzy/vertigo and have headaches
strange feelings in neck or throat
tinnitus (ringing in ears
recurrent sinus infections
vertigo and/or light-headedness
severe menstrual cramps
The Thyroid Gland: Understanding How It Works
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland found inside your neck, right under your larynx or voice box. A two-inch long, brownish red, highly vascular gland, it has two lobes located on each side of the windpipe that are both connected by a tissue called the isthmus. A normal thyroid gland weighs somewhere between 20 and 60 grams.
Your thyroid is responsible for producing the master metabolism hormones that control every function in your body. It produces three types of hormones:
- Triiodothyronine (T3)
- Thyroxine (T4)
- Diiodothyronine (T2)
Hormones secreted by your thyroid interact with all your other hormones, including insulin, cortisol, and sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. The fact that these hormones are all tied together and are in constant communication explains why a less-than-optimal thyroid status is associated with so many widespread symptoms and diseases.
Almost 90 percent of the hormone produced by your thyroid is in the form of T4, the inactive form. Your liver then converts the T4 into T3, the active form, with the help of an enzyme. T2, however, is currently the least-understood component of thyroid function and the subject of a number of ongoing studies.
If everything is working properly, you will make what you need and have the correct amounts of T3 and T4, which control the metabolism of every cell in your body. If your T3 is inadequate, either by scarce production or not converting properly from T4, your whole system suffers. T3 is critically important because it tells the nucleus of your cells to send messages to your DNA to rev up your metabolism by burning fat. This is how T3 lowers cholesterol levels, regrows hair, and helps keep you lean.
Your T3 levels can be disrupted by nutritional imbalances, toxins, allergens, infections, and stress, and this leads to a series of complications, including thyroid cancer, hypothyroidism, and hyperthyroidism, which today are three of the most prevalent thyroid-related diseases.
Blood tests do not always measure accurate tissue levels of T3 and T4 (thyroid hormones). The body strives to keep T3 and T4 levels ‘normal’. A serum Thyroid Anti-body test and a TSH test should be done. However, at home, a ‘basil temperature test’ is often a good way to check your thyroid. If you find your have many of the symptoms on this page and suspect not only an imbalance but perhaps ‘hypothyroidism’ then you must see your doctor as soon as possible. Thyroid imbalances can be successfully addressed with supplements and diet, but a true case of ‘hypothyroidism’ needs medical attention and medication. Nutritional consultants may not diagnose disease. A thyroid that is in the process of autoimmune failure (a serum Thyroid Anti-body test will show this) can cause hypothyroid symptoms BEFORE the hypothyroidism shows up as TSH outside the normal range.
Not Losing Weight? Do this test! The Basil Thyroid Temperature Test
Taking your temperature at home is a reliable way to determine if your thyroid gland is unbalanced and either working overtime (hyperactive) or working below normal (hypoactive). Thyroid blood tests measure the thyroid hormone T-4 in the blood but don’t reveal if the thyroid hormone T-3 is getting to the tissues that need it. A person may have a chronically under active thyroid and the symptoms that go along with it but have normal thyroid results from a blood test.
Immediately upon waking in the morning, before getting up, place a thermometer (mercury kinds work best) under the armpit for 10 minutes. Lie quietly during this time. Do this for 3 consecutive mornings to get an average temperature. Add all 3 numbers together and then divide by 3. The resulting temperature should be between 36.5 °C and 36.8°C (97.8°F – 98.20°F). If your average for the three mornings is below 36.5°C (97.8°F) then you may well have an under active thyroid gland. If your results are above 36.8°C (98.2°F) then your thyroid may be overactive. Menstruating women need to take their temperature on day 2, 3, and 4 of their cycle.
“Body temperature readings can be compared with your thyroid tests, which usually measure T4 hormone levels in the blood. If both temperature and blood levels are low, then the thyroid is not producing enough T4. If temperature is low but blood levels are normal, then the thyroid is producing enough T4 but the body is not converting enough of it into T3. (T3 is the form needed to activate cells fully, but the thyroid does not produce it. It must instead be converted in the various tissues of the body from the T4 that the thyroid makes.)”
The thyroid gland may be working below average for many reasons. It may be worn out from compensating for other endocrine glands that are working below average (adrenals, ovaries, pancreas) or it may not be getting the right signals from the pituitary gland. There are many foods and supplements you can take (and avoid) to support the thyroid in recovering.
Sources of Iodine
|Table 2: Selected Food Sources of Iodine|
|Seaweed, whole or sheet, 1 g||16 to 2,984||11% to 1,989%|
|Cod, baked, 3 ounces||99||66%|
|Yogurt, plain, low-fat, 1 cup||75||50%|
|Iodized salt, 1.5 g (approx. 1/4 teaspoon)||71||47%|
|Milk, reduced fat, 1 cup||56||37%|
|Fruit cocktail in heavy syrup, canned, 1/2 cup||42||28%|
|Shrimp, 3 ounces||35||23%|
|Egg, 1 large||24||16%|
|Tuna, canned in oil, drained, 3 ounces||17||11%|
|Corn, cream style, canned, 1/2 cup||14||9%|
|Prunes, dried, 5 prunes||13||9%|
|Cheese, cheddar, 1 ounce||12||8%|
|Raisin bran cereal, 1 cup||11||7%|
|Lima beans, mature, boiled, 1/2 cup||8||5%|
Article and food lists for thyroid: http://hypothyroidisma.com/hypothyroidism-diet.php
Lynn Thier, RHN, Certified Cancer Coach & Trainer and Master Hypnotherapist