- The Thyroid
- T3, T4, and Deiodinase (selenium)
- Thyroid hormone and weight
- What to do about it
Issues involving the thyroid are becoming more prevalent. It seems like the majority of women I talk to are on something for their thyroid. To start off with the thyroid is a gland in the neck, just below the adams apple, that produces hormones that control metabolism. The only cells in the body that absorb iodine are the cells of the thyroid gland. Once inside the cells of the thyroid the iodine along with the amino acid tyrosine are used to make the hormones triiodothyronine, or T3, and thyroxine, or T4. The 3 and the 4 denote how many iodines are on their respective hormones. The production of these hormones is regulated by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland with a feedback loop. Once the hormone amount hits a certain level it triggers the hypothalamus to stop the production process.
T3, T4, and Selenium (deiodinase)
T3 is the more active of the two hormones. More than four times more active in fact. When the hormones are being produced they are made out of proportion. There is about 9 times more T4 produced than T3. With T3 being the more efficient of the two hormones the body likes to take advantage of this with a set of enzymes referred to as deiodase. This enzyme, as the name suggest, takes off one of the iodine molecules making T4 into T3. Selenium is the main component of most of the deiodase enzymes. These enzymes sometimes take off the wrong iodine making what is referred to as reverse T3 or rT3. rT3 is an inactive variation of the hormone. T3 and rT3 are produced at a ratio of about 1:1, normally. Some people have a tendency to produce more of the inactive rT3. Certain outside circumstances can also cause the ratio to favor rT3. There are tests for rT3.
Thyroid Hormone and Weight
As mentioned earlier thyroid hormone regulates metabolism, or the rate at which the body makes energy (ATP). Thyroid hormone increases what is referred to as Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). Consequently differences in, small as they may be, are associated with an 11 pound difference in weight. What this means for you is that your body will be burning more calories by increasing protein, carbohydrate, and lipid metabolism. The effect is seen most prominently in the metabolism of lipids. This effect comes from T3 interacting with the hypothalamus itself causing the hypothalamus to signal the sympathetic nervous system to produce brown adipose tissue or brown fat.
Brown fat helps to regulate body temperature and it does this by burning white fat. White fat is the fat that most people thing of when they think of fat. The stuff that accumulates in those love handles. The majority of brown fat is in the chest and upper back. When the brown fat is stimulated by cold, like say an ice pack that you have placed on your upper back while watching television, it burns white fat to raise body temperature.
Another way that thyroid hormone helps control excess weight is that it helps get rid of unnecessary water weight. On the other hand low levels of thyroid hormone will cause you to retain water. Below is a picture of a gentleman with hypothyroidism and then again 41 days into treatment to normalize his thyroid.
What can I do about it?
When dealing with low thyroid we want to look at thinks that comprise the hormone and enzymes involved in its function. Sea foods are known to be high in iodine, especially things like sea weeds. Another source is the algae spirulina and the highest non sea source is black walnuts. There are a few other good sources of iodine out there like cranberries, any beans and grass fed yogurt. To little and to much iodine can both cause issues for the thyroid so make sure you are getting it, but above all don’t overdo it.
Deiodinase enzyme are primarily made up of selenium. Brazil nuts are the highest natural food source of selenium and in case studies have been shown to sufficiently raise the amount of free T3. Therefore to increase free T3 one should add a good source selenium. For this reason I try to get a daily dose of brazil nut.
There have also been some herbs like ashwagandha that stimulates thyroid activity. Another herb that has been shown to help in the production of thyroid hormone is bacopa moneria. In animal studies the herb was able to raise T4 concentrations by as much as 41%.
In conclusion the best way to not have to be reactive is to be proactive. At this point I hope you have a clearer understanding of how the thyroid functions. Brazil nut, spirulina, and ashwaganda are all contained in mBreakfast. One of the premier ingredients in mFocus and Relax is bacopa moneria. Come by our award winning wellness center if you would like to add either of these to your healthy habits. If you can’t make it mBreakfast can be obtained at our online store.
In any case say YES to your health!