Thyroid 101 - part 1

July 9, 2018

The thyroid is often an overlooked and misunderstood organ, and when malfunctioning it can cause a variety of issues. This is not surprising as it affects every cell in the human body.

 

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland in the neck. It has two lobes, which are not visible but can be felt. Ever wondered why is your doctor is palpating your neck during the examination?  

 

Its job is to produce hormones (chemical messengers) that help regulate the metabolism –  the rate at which we produce and use energy. Its main importance lies in facilitating the processes of energy production in the mitochondria – the powerhouse of the human cell.

 

If the plasma levels of the thyroid hormones fall, then the hypothalamus recognises this via feedback and increases the production of Thyrotropin Releasing Hormone (TRH), which in turn stimulates the pituitary gland to release Thyroid Stimulating Hormones (TSH).

 

Closer look at the thyroid hormones

 

 

Let’s have a quick look at the four main hormones produced by the thyroid gland. Yo might have heard of T4 but there are few more.  ‘About 80 % of the thyroid output into the bloodstream is in the T4 version; about 16% as T3 and the remaining 4% made up of T2 and T1’.  These molecules look very similar yet they have very different effects in the body.

 

T4  has a lower biological activity in the body, although the body makes a higher amount of it in comparison to other hormones. It is transported around the body in the bloodstream as a temporary storage vehicle, awaiting a call for action.

 

T3 is the more active version of T4. When there is a need for increased energy production, such as feeling cold, the thyroid gland will soon produce more T4 and T3. The tissues use it immediately for increased energy production.

 

In the future post we will be taking a closer look at the thyroid disorders but in the meantime why not take this quick quiz by Dr. Alan Christianson to see if your symptoms might be indicative of a thyroid disorder. 

 

As always, we recommend that you consult your physician before embarking on any wellness program. 

 

 

 

 

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