Thyroid hormone is produced by the thyroid gland. T4 (tetraiodothyronine) is normally converted into T3 (triiodothyronine) in the peripheral tissues. Much of the T3 is bound with thyroid binding globulin. The T3 that is not bound, is the free T3, and is the active hormone with a very short half-life. (It doesn’t stick around very long.) Low T3 at the cellular level is responsible for the symptoms of hypothyroidism (low thyroid). T4 crosses from the blood to the central nervous system more easily than T3. So, both T3 and T4 are required. Many physicians, however, will only replace T4 with commercial preparations, such as levothyroxine. Compounded preparations or Armour thyroid, for example have both T3 and T4.
Thyroid hormones will become low due to decreased production, decreased conversion of T4 to T3, or decreased receptor site sensitivity. Essentially, you don’t make it. You don’t convert what you have and what you do have, doesn’t work as well.
Symptoms of Low Thyroid Hormone (Hypothyroidism)
Fatigue, weakness, weight gain, increased body fat, lack of motivation, lack of energy, memory loss, difficulty thinking, confusion, depression, feeling cold, hair loss, thin hair/skin/nails and poor sense of well-being.
Benefits of Thyroid Replacement
Increased fat breakdown (leading to weight loss) and decreased cholesterol. Protection against heart disease, memory loss, fatigue, weight gain, vertebral fractures and increased mortality.
Who might consider Thyroid use?
Anyone who would like any of the benefits noted above or anyone with low or suboptimal T3/T4 or elevated TSH levels.
Potential Side Effects of Thyroid Replacement
If you get too much thyroid: sweaty, rapid heart rate and atrial fibrillation (at 3x normal levels). If too low or too high: osteoporosis or hair loss.
Who should NOT use Thyroid?
Anyone with cardiac sensitivity with rapid heart beats (supraventricular tachycardia or atrial fibrillation).
How is Thyroid Supplied?
A common form of thyroid replacement is dried and comes from pigs. This is Armour thyroid and is measured in grains (one grain contains a standard 9 micrograms of T3 and 38 micrograms of T4). A synthetic version is derived from duck feathers in the same ratio. A compounded version is also available, which can have customized doses of T3 and T4.
How do I take Thyroid supplements? (Special Considerations)
It is important to know that thyroid is different from most of the other medications in that it must be taken with water only. Do not have coffee, breakfast, vitamins, other medication or anything else until 30 minutes later. The best time to take it is when you first wake up.