Often times, patients talk to their doctors about possibly having thyroid issues. They experience weight gain, do a little research online, and proclaim that they have self-diagnosed a thyroid disease or problem. Sometimes they are wrong. But in one way, they are always correct. Your thyroid does play an important part in the metabolic process that can lead to weight loss or gain.
Here is what happens. Your thyroid is the largest gland in your endocrine system. What your endocrine group of glands does is regulate things like your physical growth, mental and physical development, reproductive process and metabolism. This includes your pancreas, pituitary, ovaries, testes and thyroid glands among others.
While your thyroid is the largest of all the endocrine glands, it is still relatively small. It is shaped like a butterfly and located in the middle of your neck, just below your Adam’s apple. Have you ever had a doctor handle your throat and ask you to swallow? When he does that, he is checking your thyroid gland.
What does your thyroid gland to do exactly?
When healthy, your thyroid produces Thyroxine (T4), Triiodothyronine (T3) and Calcitonin hormones. Calcitonin focuses on regulating the amount of phosphate and calcium in your blood. As related to weight loss and metabolism, it has very little effect.
On the other hand, your T3 and T4 levels (commonly referred to as the thyroid hormones) are directly related to metabolism and weight gain or loss. When those hormones are created they are circulated throughout your body. Your pituitary gland makes TRH (thyroid releasing hormone) that tells your thyroid to go to work, and T4 and T3 are manufactured and distributed.
Those thyroid hormones work with every cell in your body to boost metabolism. If you have low levels of T4 and T3, your metabolism drops. Hyperthyroidism is characterized by an overactive thyroid. This can lead to unhealthy weight loss and manic levels of energy. When your metabolism drops too low, this is called hypothyroidism, and it leads to low energy levels and weight gain.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Blurred vision
- Swollen legs
- Hoarse voice
- Mood swings
- Weight gain
- Muscle cramping
- Hair loss
The bottom line? If your thyroid is out of whack, you can either lose or gain weight, and suffer from excessively high or low levels of energy. Talk to your doctor today and schedule a thyroid checkup if you are exceptionally obese or underweight, or if you are experiencing several of the above symptoms.
Thyroid regulation and maintenance benefits from a healthy diet, exercise, proper sleep patterns and drinking lots of water. There are also medicines your doctor can prescribe to get your T3 and T4 levels back in line.