How to Optimize Thyroid Function
ByMackenzie Prentice, DNP, APNP •September 22, 2022
The thyroid gland plays an important role in regulating our body’s metabolic function. Thyroid hormones help the body use energy appropriately, which can regulate body temperature and manage weight. Thyroid hormones also provide energy for proper functioning of the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs. There are several steps that happen in order for the thyroid gland to produce and convert the thyroid hormones into a version that is active in the body. Our body does a great job at regulating this process so ensure the amount of active thyroid hormone available to the cells is “just right.”
Our genes, environment, diet and lifestyle, mental and emotional health, and certain medications are just a few of the many factors that can have interfere with the body’s regulation pathway. There are also factors that can support and optimize the body’s thyroid regulation pathway.
Step 1: Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH) knocks on the Thyroid gland’s door and says it is time to make the hormone called Thyroxine (T4).
Factors that STOP this step
-Infection, trauma, radiation, medication
-Toxins: pesticides, mercury, cadmium, lead
-Autoimmune disorders such as celiac disease
Nutrients SUPPORT this step
-Vitamin: E, B2, B3, B6, C, D
Step 2: Free Thyroxine (T4) can then be converted to either Free Tri-iodothyronine (T3) or Reverse T3 (RT3).
These two forms of thyroid hormone “compete” for binding sites on the cell. Think of these two forms as keys to a door. The active T3 turns one way to “unlock” and provide energy to the cell. The inactive or Reverse T3 turns the opposite way and locks the energy out of the cell.
Factors that increase conversion of T4 to INACTIVE Reverse T3
Nutrients that increase the conversion of T4 to ACTIVE T3
Another factor in ensuring the thyroid hormone is able to support the cells is cellular sensitivity. Once converted into the active form of thyroid hormone (T3), cells can decide how easily it will accept and utilize this hormone.
How to optimize this sensitivity:
Addressing the factors address above that either negatively and positively impact thyroid function is a great start to ensuring your body has the energy it needs to function optimally.
This graphic created by the Institute for Functional Medicine (2014), is a great visual that summarizes this post:
Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM). (2014). Factors that Affect Thyroid Function. Retrieved from: https://ifm.myabsorb.com/#/online-courses/e11c9c00-d465-49ea-a112-34adaa742d8dJuby AG, Hanly MG, Lukaczer D. Clinical challenges in thyroid disease: time for a new approach? Maturitas. 2016;87:72-78. doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2016.02.001
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.