Looking after your thyroid is essential to supporting your wider health and wellbeing
As many as one in 20 people in the UK are living with a thyroid problem, and, for around two percent of people, this problem could be an underactive thyroid. An underactive thyroid – otherwise known as hypothyroidism – is more common than you might think, especially among women. In fact, it’s ten times more likely in women than men.
Our thyroid health is essential to our physical and mental health overall, yet the UK continues to struggle with iodine deficiency. And it’s not just us. Iodine is an essential nutrient which is intrinsic to supporting the normal function of your thyroid, but as many as 241 million school-aged children around the world possess dangerously low levels of iodine.
But what exactly is an underactive thyroid, and could you be at risk? When it comes to caring for ourselves, knowledge is power, so we’re going to take a closer look at this condition, including the vital role seaweed has to play.
What are the symptoms of an underactive thyroid?
An underactive thyroid is where your thyroid gland isn’t producing enough hormones. The thyroid gland is located just in front of your windpipe, and is used to produce hormones that help to regulate your body’s metabolism. These hormones are triiodothyronine and thyroxine, or T3 and T4 respectively.
When your thyroid isn’t producing enough T3 and T4, many of your body’s functions slow down. The common signs of an underactive thyroid are weight gain, tiredness and feeling low or depressed. Other symptoms might include being sensitive to the cold, muscle aches, and having dry skin and hair. These symptoms are similar to those of many other conditions, like the menopause, meaning an underactive thyroid can often fly under the radar.
What causes an underactive thyroid
We’ve already mentioned the importance of iodine when it comes to your thyroid health. To put it simply, iodine is the fuel that helps your thyroid run smoothly. Not getting enough iodine in your diet can put your thyroid function at risk, making conditions like hypothyroidism more likely to occur. Iodine supports your thyroid in its release of T3 and T4.
It’s possible for both men and women to suffer from an underactive thyroid, though it’s much more common in women. Children can also develop or be born with an underactive thyroid. In fact, a recent study found that up to 50% of infants across Europe are at risk of iodine deficiency, putting their thyroid health in jeopardy.
The link between thyroid health and seaweed
For most people, the iodine in their diets comes from seaweed and dairy. However, this may not be enough to reach the recommended daily amount. What’s more, with the skyrocket rise of people following a vegan diet for health, environmental and moral reasons, the threat of iodine deficiency is greater than ever.
This is where seaweed comes in. As the only viable plant-based source of iodine, introducing seaweed as a dietary staple can help you reach the levels of iodine necessary for thyroid health, reducing your risk of suffering from conditions like an underactive thyroid.
Doctor Seaweed’s Weed & Wonderful seaweed supplements provide a vegan, organic, kosher way to easily introduce more iodine into your daily diet, with just one 500mg capsule containing as much iodine as three whole mackerel. We wild-harvest our seaweed from the pristine waters of the Scottish Outer Hebrides, and test to ensure that there are significant natural iodine levels present in every batch.