Abnormalities of thyroid hormone production can affect almost every aspect of health and it is one of the most under-diagnosed hormonal imbalances of aging. Thyroid hormones control the body’s metabolism by regulating the rate at which cells function and facilitate the conversion of oxygen and calories into energy. There are 2 major thyroid hormones, T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (tri iodothyronine). Iodine is necessary to produce these hormones. Because every cell of the body is affected by thyroid hormones, symptoms of imbalance are often varied and may affect multiple body systems.
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland is under active and inadequate amounts of thyroid hormone are produced. Hypothyroidism causes a slowing of metabolism and every system in the body becomes sluggish. Estrogen dominance, where there is too much estrogen compared to progesterone, leads to improper thyroid function. The combination of a normal amount of estrogen but decreased progesterone may block the action of the thyroid hormone and lead to symptoms of hypothyroidism, even when thyroid hormone levels appear normal on laboratory tests. Other factors which can cause a poorly functioning thyroid gland include low iodine levels, environmental toxins(heavy metals, pesticides, and antibiotics), overstressed adrenal glands, autoimmune reactions,some prescription medications and insufficient vitamins and minerals.
Thyroid function declines with ageing due to diminished thyroid production and decreased sensitivity to the hormones at the body receptor sites.
Disturbances caused by diminished levels of thyroid hormone include:
- Fatigue and excessive sleepiness
- Splitting nails
- Weight gain or increased difficulty losing weight
- Coarse, dry hair
- Diminished ability to sweat during exercise
- Dry, rough skin
- Hair loss
- Cold hands and feet; cold intolerance
- Muscle cramps and frequent muscle aches
- Mental slowness
- Abnormal menstrual cycles
- Decreased libido