Tips on Hypothyroidism

Grant Cochrane/

Grant Cochrane/

Were we recently diagnosed with hypothyroidism or have we noted some changes in our body that may relate to it? The first step to take if we have not been diagnosed  is to see our physician and report our symptoms. TSH and T4 lab levels are great determinants of this condition.

Hypothyroidism is a state in which our thyroid just does not produce enough thyroid hormone. So it’s important to know what might cause our thyroid to “misbehave.” An underactive thyroid is more common in women over 50. Other causes may be thyroiditis due to immune system disorder, cold or respiratory infection, pregnancy, certain drugs such as lithium, radiation treatments, radioactive iodine treatment or severe bleeding during pregnancy or childbirth.

Iodine deficiency is a biggie around the world.  Another reason is iodine depletion due to profuse sweating while exercising in hot weather without adequate replacement. Certain foods called goitrogens such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, soy products, sweet potatoes, millet and flaxseed inhibit iodine absorption.  So the key is balance in what we eat, along with adequate iodine intake.

Here is a list of symptoms that relate to hypothyroidism:

  • Cold intolerance
  • Constipation
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Thin and brittle nails
  • Thin and brittle hair
  • Joint Pain
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Menstrual dysfunction
  • Depression
  • Elevated serum cholesterol

When hypothyroidism is not treated, the following symptoms may be seen:

  • Goiter (the enlargement of the thyroid gland)
  • Infertility for men and women
  • Low basal temperature
  • Decreased libido in men
  • Dry puffy skin, specially the face

The recommended daily Allowance (RDA) for iodine is 150 mcg for 19+ yrs old females and males, which translates into approximately 1/2 teaspoon of iodized salt.  Also keep in mind that a continuous excess of iodine may eventually lead to thyroid dysfunction.

Common sources of dietary iodine are:

  • Cheese
  • Cows milk
  • Eggs
  • Frozen Yogurt
  • Ice Cream
  • Iodine-containing multivitamins
  • Iodized table salt
  • Saltwater fish
  • Seaweed (including kelp, dulce, nori, wakame)
  • Shellfish
  • Yogurt

In the end, a diet that encompasses adequate amounts of needed nutrients helps keep us in shape.


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