Your thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped gland. It is located just below the larynx, in the lower part of the neck. Most of us are familiar with the thyroid gland and its control over our metabolism. A lot of you will be familiar with Eltroxin (levothyroxine), the medicine for an underactive thyroid.
 
The purpose of the thyroid gland is to take iodine from foods we consume and convert them into thyroid hormones: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). The thyroid combines iodine and the amino acid tyrosine to make T4 and T3. T4 and T3, once released into the blood stream, control our metabolism. The thyroid is also responsible for proper growth, development and repair of the body. Thyroid hormones play a particularly crucial role in brain maturation during foetal development and the central nervous system.
 
The metabolism of every single cell in our body is dependent on thyroid hormones. We often think of our metabolism as a way to lose or what is causing us to gain weight. Your metabolism is the way we create energy for everything we do - thinking, running, blinking, your heart beating, etc.
 
The thyroid produces about 80% T4 and 20% T3, but T3 is four to ten times the strength of T4. T4 is converted into T3 in organs like the spleen, the kidney and the liver.
 
 
Thyroid and fertility
As your thyroid controls the metabolism of every cell in your body, it has a role to play in our reproductive organs. Your thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system. The endocrine system is made up of a few glands, including your reproductive glands. If your thyroid is underperforming (for a variety of reasons), this will have a negative effect on hormonal output, sperm creation and egg development.
Symptoms include:
Hyperthyroidism (over accelerated)
Hypothyroidism (sluggish)
Inability to tolerate heat
Infertility
Infrequent, scant menstrual periods
Elevated prolactin levels
Irritability or nervousness
Flow of milk in the absence of pregnancy or childbirth
Muscle weakness or tremors
Abnormal menstrual cycles
Vision problems or eye irritation
Low body temperature
Weight loss
MEN:
Decreased Libido - creates impairment of testicular testosterone synthesis
Enlarged thyroid gland
Abnormal enlargement of the mammary glands
 
As a note, some of these symptoms can be an isolated issue, a thyroid issue, or something else entirely. If you tick a lot of those symptoms, have a word with your healthcare provider.
 
 
What can we do?
Earlier on, I mentioned that most of your thyroid hormones are made up of Iodine and the amino acid (protein) Tyrosine. For starters, let's make sure that we supply our body with these nutrients. Foods with a plentiful supply of Iodine are:
 
• Iodised salt
• Seaweed (especially kelp and dulse)
• Cod
• Haddock
• Shellfish
• Garlic
• Asparagus
• Lima beans
• Mushrooms
• Soybeans
• Spinach
 
I also mentioned that the body produces more T4 then T3. In many ways, the body is a fan of having 'inactive,' substances travelling in our blood stream - so we can activate it when we need it! Brilliant, really! In the organs mentioned, we convert T4 to T3 when required. This conversion uses Selenium, Vitamin A, B Vitamins, Vitamin K, Copper and Zinc. There are other factors, like heavy metal toxicity, immunological issues that can have a negative impact on the thyroid and its hormones, too.
 
 
So, first off, let's make sure we have the building blocks and the necessary agents to create and make the hormone work. As a note, 9 in 10 of us are deficient in Selenium and Zinc, according to a UK food survey.
 
However, constituents of certain foods can promote a deficiency state by binding to Iodine, making the Iodine inaccessible for thyroid hormone synthesis. Cooking these foods tends to make them less goitrogenic. 
A few helpful hints and tips:
  1. Avoid food allergens, if you have them. Get this checked out if you don't know
  2. Make sure you are consuming the building blocks for the production of thyroid hormones mentioned in the article
  3. Be careful of simple, refined sugars - interfere with the thyroid's functionality
  4. Exercise keeps the metabolism clock ticking
  5. Good dietary habits as always, including good fats, very beneficial for your thyroid.
Fertility Specialist

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