To mark Thyroid Awareness Month, we’re taking a closer look at the impact seaweed has on this small but essential gland
January is Thyroid Awareness Month – a time we should all remind ourselves of the big impact that this small gland can have on our health and wellbeing.
The thyroid is a vital yet often overlooked part of the body. We tend to only think about it when something goes wrong. But looking after your thyroid is hugely important, and the fact that seaweed is such a strong natural source of iodine makes it one of the most useful tools at your disposal for caring for your thyroid.
What does your thyroid do?
The thyroid gland can be found in the front, lower half of the neck where it is involved in the production of hormones such as triiodothyronine and thyroxine. These hormones help to regulate the body’s metabolism, helping you turn food into energy.
Because of its crucial role in the way humans process fuel, the thyroid is essential in ensuring the healthy function of all your major organs. And this is why the symptoms of thyroid dysfunction can be so detrimental to many aspects of our broader health and wellbeing.
How common are thyroid disorders?
Thyroid problems aren’t always something you hear a lot about, but the reality is that disorders regarding the thyroid are extremely common in the UK.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that as many as 750 million people worldwide are living with some form of thyroid disorder. In the UK alone, it is estimated that one in 20 people are impacted by thyroid disorders, with prevalence being significantly higher among women.
This disparity between the sexes is thought to be related to the fact that some of the most common triggers for thyroid disorders are pregnancy and the menopause, as well as puberty. In some cases, thyroid disorders can be familial.
What are the symptoms?
Thyroid disorders occur when the thyroid gland produces too many or too few thyroid hormones. This can lead to either hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) or hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid).
Common symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Over-sensitivity to the cold
- Weight gain and bloating
- Anxiety, depression and low mood
- Dry skin
- Brittle hair and nails
- Aches and pains
- Hair loss
- Loss of libido
- Irregular periods and other fertility issues
Meanwhile, some of the common symptoms of hyperthyroidism are:
- Increased sweating
- Increased appetite
- Over-sensitivity to the heat
- Weight loss
- Shaking and tremors
- Dry, thin skin
- Mood swings
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Trouble sleeping or insomnia
- Dry, itchy eyes
- Muscles aches and pains
- Changes to the menstrual cycle
- Fertility issues
Seaweed, the thyroid and essential iodine
Maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle is key to enjoying good thyroid health. A big part of the equation is ensuring that key nutrients are present in your daily diet. Among the most important, yet undervalued, nutrients on this list is iodine.
Iodine plays a critical role in everything from cognitive function and healthy growth in children, to healthy skin and healthy metabolism. Much of this is due to the way that the thyroid gland utilises iodine.
Research shows that the UK is one of just two high-income countries with iodine deficiency issues. But it is also thought that, as the popularity of plant-based diets grow, iodine insufficiency may become more widespread – because iodine is typically gained through fish or meat in the diet.
However, seaweed is naturally rich in iodine, as well as other key vitamins, minerals and nutrients such as calcium, iron and potassium. Including seaweed in your daily diet is a fantastic way to support the normal function of your thyroid, but it’s understandable that not everyone knows how best to incorporate high quality seaweed into their meal plans – which is where Dr Seaweed’s Weed & Wonderful™ Seaweed Capsules can come in. One 500mg seaweed supplement contains as much iodine as three whole mackerel and we strive to provide the best quality Scottish seaweed so you can enjoy maximum health and nutritional benefits.