According to the American Thyroid Association, 1 in 8 women develop thyroid disease during their lifetime. Oh, boy. How does this little gland impact so many women? 

Your thyroid gland may be small, but it carries a big job! Whether you are pregnant, or just feeling cold, your thyroid gland is working. It is located on the front of your neck and made up of 2 lobes that are shaped like the wings of a butterfly. 

Your thyroid gland produces, stores, and releases thyroid hormones, called T3 and T4, to every cell in your body. Issues can occur when there is an imbalance of these hormones. Hyperthyroidism is when the body produces too many hormones, and hypothyroidism is when there is too little. 

Digestion: When thyroid hormones are released, the body increases its metabolism. This means our food is broken down more quickly for energy. Diarrhea can occur when there is an over-production of hormones, while constipation can occur if there is too little. 

Energy levels: Since your thyroid dictates how your body uses and produces energy, you may feel weak or tired if you have hypothyroidism. In contrast, you may feel restless or irritable if you have hyperthyroidism. 

Heart rate: Your heart rate is controlled by the number of thyroid hormones in your body. People with hyperthyroidism may experience a faster heart rate than normal. 

Periods: The flow of your menstrual cycle is also influenced by your thyroid. Excessive or too little thyroid hormones can result in a light, heavy or irregular flow. 

Sleeping: Thyroid hormones are responsible for regulating your sleep-wake cycle. An overactive thyroid may disrupt your sleep by causing you to have night sweats and frequent urges to use the bathroom. An underactive thyroid may affect your quality of sleep by making you sensitive to cold temperatures. 

Mood: A common symptom of thyroid issues is fluctuations in mood. Many people experience feeling irritable, fatigue, anxious, and down. 

Iodine’s Role in Your Thyroid

Iodine is a mineral that is needed for your body to make thyroid hormones. We do not make iodine in our bodies, so it is important for us to get it through our food. Iodine can be found in:

  • Seafood (cod, tuna, and shrimp)
  • Seaweed
  • Dairy products (milk, yogurt, and cheese) 
  • Iodized salt

Other thyroid supporting nutrients include selenium and zinc which can be found in a variety of foods from whole eggs to nuts and seeds.

This blog is for educational purposes only. For all medical questions, please consult with your physician.