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January 22, 2016

By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

Chances are you haven´t given your thyroid a second thought
today. But the thyroid is one of our most important glands –
and often the most misunderstood. Shaped like a butterfly and
located in the front of your neck, the thyroid helps to control
weight, metabolism, energy use, and even sleep. Is your
thyroid due a break? What are you doing to help your thyroid

What is the Purpose of the Thyroid?

The hormones in the thyroid help to regulate organ function
and metabolism. These hormones have a direct effect on
cholesterol levels, weight, energy use, heart rate, muscle use,
texture of skin and hair, fertility, and even mood. Put simply,
the thyroid holds together a lot of complex body processes.

Overworked Thyroid? -- When Problems Occur

Women are at particular risk of thyroid problems as hormones
can be shifted out of balance by menopause or pregnancy,
and even as a result of chronic stress, resulting in a greater
chance of thyroid conditions.

Toxic levels of mercury in fillings or in fish can affect the
thyroid. Nutritional deficiencies can cause thyroid imbalance.
Thyroid imbalance can cause various thyroid disorders. More
than 20 million Americans suffer from a thyroid disorder,
according to the Canadian Thyroid Association.

What are the Symptoms of Thyroid Disorder?

Hypothyroidism occurs when you do not get enough thyroid
hormone for optimum functioning.

With hypothyroidism your body slows down – you feel tired
and you sleep excessively.

You have a slow digestion and you gain weight.

You may also have dry skin and hair.  

In addition, and your thinking may slow down. Other
symptoms of hypothyroidism include frequently
feeling cold,
hair loss, depression, constipation, and high cholesterol.

What Can You Do to Help Your Thyroid?

Thankfully there are ways to help give your thyroid a vacation
and take the negative pressure off this vital gland. Check your
diet and make sure you are getting the full range of vitamins
and minerals. Smart supplements can help. And avoiding
stress along with environmental toxins can really make a
difference. Here are seven scientifically tested ways to give
your thyroid a much-needed vacation.

Help Your Thyroid by Getting Enough Iodine

Iodine is the most important element when it comes to a
healthy, functioning thyroid. If you do not have sufficient
iodine, your thyroid cannot work properly.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(2012), women between the ages of 20 and 39 have the
lowest levels of iodine out of all the age groups.

Get your iodine from seaweed and seafood, eggs, spinach,
chard, mushrooms, sesame seeds, and lima beans.

Since 1924, iodine has been added to ordinary table salt in the
United States.  Of course, using too much table salt can cause
far more problems  -- for example,
hypertension --- than the
iodine solves.  For this reason, if you are deficient in iodine,
check your blood pressure before you add salt to obtain more

Get More Selenium to Give Your Thyroid a Break

Selenium is an essential element when it comes to a healthy

Selenium acts like a kind of detoxing agent, helping to flush
out elements that cause oxidative stress to the thyroid, and by
helping regulate hormonal balance.

A 2010 study from Papageorgiou General Hospital in Greece
shows that selenium offers benefits for sufferers of
hypothyroidism – in the trial review people taking selenium
reported improved mood and tests showed they had lower
levels of the antibodies that harm the thyroid.

Selenium is found in tuna, beef, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds,
mushrooms, and soy beans.

Avoid Non-Stick Cookware on your Thyroid vacation

Why does it matter what cookware you use when you prepare
your food?

A 2010 study from the Peninsula Medical School in the UK
found  that a stain repellent called "perfluorooctanoic acid
(PFOA)" which is used often in nonstick cookware and stain
resistant coatings for carpets  is linked to thyroid disease in
American adults.

The study showed that people with a higher level of
perfluorooctanoic acid in the blood were more likely to have a
history of thyroid problems – people with the highest 25
percent of PFOA were twice as likely to report thyroid disease.

Do Your Thyroid a Favor with Zinc and Copper – But Avoid

To function properly your thyroid needs adequate levels of
both zinc and copper. Low levels of zinc are linked to low
levels of essential thyroid hormones, according to a 2013
study from Government Medical College in India. One sign of
severe zinc deficiency is diffuse hair loss (alopecia).

Getting your zinc levels right is the key. Too much zinc
introduces its own problems.  High zinc intake results in lower
amount of copper stored in your body, according to a 1995
study from Rowett Research Institute, Bucksburn, Aberdeen
in Scotland.
In addition to harming your thyroid, copper
deficiency also contributes to higher cholesterol levels.

So how much zinc and copper are optimal? First step is to
have a doctor-administered blood test. This will tell you where
your zinc levels are now.

If you find that you are deficient in zinc or copper, consider
food sources.

Zinc is present in good quantities in beef, turkey, sardines,
oysters, Brazil nuts, whole grains, and walnuts.

Copper can be found in crabmeat, beef, beans, sunflower
seeds, nuts, and tomato paste.

One final note --watch your iron levels. Taking iron
supplements may interfere with thyroid hormone absorption,
according to a 1992 study from the University of Calgary,
Canada, which is not good news for your thyroid.

Avoid Soy to Help Your Thyroid Function?

Studies are mixed when it comes to the effect of soy on your

The enzymes in soy appear to affect the way thyroid
hormones and thyroid medication work. When given to people
taking thyroid medication, soy seems to prevent that
from working properly.

1997 study from the National Center for Toxicological
Research, Jefferson suggests that soy may actually directly
affect the functioning of the thyroid gland. However, if you
get enough iodine it is unlikely that soy will be a problem.

Give your thyroid a break by watching your soy and iodine

Should You Avoid Cruciferous Vegetables for a Healthy

Some reports state that to give your thyroid the best chance
for health you should avoid vegetables in the Brassica family –
otherwise known as cruciferous vegetables including Brussels
sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli.

The chemicals in these vegetables can reduce thyroid function
in a similar way to soy.

However, a 2002 study from Istituto di Ricerche
Farmacologiche, Milan in Italy looked at data from 11 studies
and found that “cruciferous vegetables are not positively
related to thyroid cancer risk. Their effect does not seem to be
substantially different from that of other vegetables.”

What is important here, again, is that you carefully observe
how these vegetables affect you.

Fluoride in the Water and a Healthy Thyroid

Fluoride in the water in England is linked to higher rates of
underactive thyroid, according to a 2015 study by the
University of Kent in the UK. This suggests that the policy of
adding fluoride to water is not beneficial for thyroid health -
to give your thyroid a vacation, get some bottled water.


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Mushrooms contain selenium which
helps to maintain healthy thyroid