Are you frustrated because dieting just doesn’t seem to be working for you? Are you gaining weight even though your eating habits and number of trips to the gym haven’t changed? The problem might not be your diet or exercise regimen. You could have an underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism.
More than 10 million Americans have been diagnosed with a thyroid condition, and it’s estimated that another 15 million have a problem but are unaware of it and remain undiagnosed. If left untreated, thyroid problems could lead to infertility, weakness, osteoporosis and heart problems.
The reason you gain weight when you have an underactive thyroid is because the thyroid gland regulates your metabolism, meaning it determines how well you burn calories. When your thyroid stops producing hormones like it should, your metabolism becomes sluggish, which causes water retention, fat storage and, ultimately, weight gain. In addition, an underactive thyroid can affect a surprising number of other internal processes and bodily functions, including your digestion, internal thermostat and ability to concentrate.
Signs you may have an underactive thyroid include:
- Weight gain
- Fatigue, exhaustion
- Problems with concentration
- Dry or itchy skin
- Dry, coarse and/or thinning hair
- Often feeling cold, especially in your hands and feet
- Muscle cramps
- Menstrual irregularities
The thyroid is a small gland in front of the larynx in your neck. It contains thyroglobulin protein that binds to iodine to make hormones that are involved in the proper functioning of every organ and cell in your body. If your thyroid is underactive and doesn’t produce enough hormones, you have what is called hypothyroidism, which is the most common thyroid ailment, affecting 80% of those with thyroid disease. Or, if you have the opposite problem where your thyroid is overactive and it produces too many hormones, you have hypothyroidism. Another problem is developing nodules on your thyroid. Fortunately, about 95% of these growths are benign, or non-cancerous, but it’s important to get the proper diagnosis and treatment.
Who is at Risk?
- Women are 10 times more likely to develop thyroid disease than men.
- People who have a family history of thyroid disease or autoimmune diseases.
- Women who recently had a baby (within the last six months). The immune system is suppressed during pregnancy, however, after delivery the risk of thyroid problems increases, especially if you smoke.
- Women over the age of 35. The American Thyroid Association recommends that women have their thyroids tested at age 35 and every five years after that.
- People over the age of 65. More than 17% of women have low thyroid symptoms when they are 65 or older.
- Smokers are more likely to develop thyroid disease, according to many studies.
Do a Self-Check of Your Neck
Experts recommend doing a regular self-examination of your neck as often as once a month.
- Look in the mirror at the area of your neck that’s just below the Adam’s apple but above your collarbone. This is where your thyroid gland is located.
- Tilt your head back slightly and take a drink of water.
- As you swallow, watch carefully to see if there are any bulges in the thyroid area. Any bulges or bumps as you swallow may indicate an enlarged thyroid gland, and you should see your doctor to rule out any problem.
Nourish Your Thyroid with a Healthy Diet and Supplements
In order to function properly, your thyroid needs the proper nutrition, so a healthy diet is an important factor in thyroid health. Studies have shown that a healthy thyroid requires vitamin B-compounds, zinc, iodine, copper, manganese and molybdenum. The amino acid L-tyrosine is also important to produce the neurotransmitters necessary for normal hormone production. If you feel your diet is lacking adequate amounts of these vitamins, a thyroid supplement may be helpful.
One of the most complete and highly effective natural thyroid supplements available today is Healthy Choice Naturals Thyroid Essentials. It provides 13 targeted thyroid vitamins, minerals and herbs that have been proven by clinical research to support healthy thyroid function.