T3 & T4 – What You Need To Know
The body is governed by a range of hormones. Have you ever wondered why some people can eat all day and never put on weight? Why is it that you often feel tired without any reason? The answer is probably that your hormone levels are not properly tuned. If you put on weight easily and have difficulties with sleep and energy levels, then T3 and T4 may be behind your ailments.
“Triiodothyronine” is not easy to pronounce. It is generally referred to as “T3.” A stimulus, called the thyroid-stimulating hormone, or TSH, travels from the pituitary gland to the thyroid gland, where T3 and T4 are produced in response. TSH is also known as thyrotropin. T3 controls your heart rate, your cell growth and your metabolism. Problems with T3 can cause sleeplessness and unfair weight gain. Some forms of depression are actually caused by incorrect T3 levels.
Thyroxine is better known as “T4.” This is the prohormone of T3, so very low levels of T4 will automatically result in low levels of T3. A prohormone does little work by itself, but it activates the effects of the hormone it is associated with. Thus, T3 and T4 work as a team.
Balancing T3 and T4
Some health and diet advisors talk about “balancing” T3 and T4. This term causes confusion, to the general public it seems this advice tells you to strive towards the same levels of T3 and T4. However, this is not the case. In fact, “balancing” T3 and T4 means getting them in the right proportion to each other. Your T4 level should be four times your T3 level. A sedentary lifestyle, poor diet and complicating medication are major causes of T3 and T4 imbalances. Examine these aspects of your life in order to resolve your weight and energy problems.
The food you eat provides most of the raw materials your body needs to thrive. You may be aware that you have an unhealthy diet, but if you are suffering from weakness or depression caused by T3 deficiency, you probably don’t have enough energy to care. You don’t need to become the perfect cook, or remodel your kitchen in order to correct your problems. Just a few modifications to the daily food intake should help you get out of your low and find sufficient energy to start taking an interest in improving your health. Your thyroid needs iodine in order to produce T4, so start with boosting your iodine intake. Wakame, and other sea vegetables, such as dulse contain lots of iodine. If you can’t find those in your local store, get almonds, lentils and pumpkin seeds to add to your regular recipes. Prioritize wholegrain bread and rice and try to increase your seafood diet. These ingredients contain zinc iron and copper. Spinach is a great source of these vitamins, too – as are tomatoes. Anything that lists Vitamin D as an ingredient will be good for your thyroid gland.
You can improve your liver by adding mushrooms, Brazil nuts and sunflower seeds. These are great sources of selenium. You may have heard that salt is a good source of iodine. However, don’t increase your salt intake. If anything, reduce it – the sodium in salt is not good for your other organs. Avoid the following foods, which block the operation of your thyroid: soyabean, soy, millet, maize, peanuts, turnip, mustard, sweet potato, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
Your thyroid-boosting diet should give you an energy boost and get you out of the doldrums. However, resist the temptation you spend that energy in the gym. You need to find outdoor activities, like cycling, walking, or sailing. Tennis and golf are good ideas, because they will give you a good reason to get out in the sun. Vitamin D will boost your T3 and T4 levels and the best source of that is the sun.
If you are the kind of person that stays at work late and accrues unused vacation days, you are probably damaging your thyroid with your job. You need to reduce the stress in your life, because that harms the production of T3 and T4. Taking the dog for a walk or tackling the garden are better uses of your time than showing your boss you can endure the office longer than everyone else in the firm. If you obsess about your job, you are doing extra damage to your thyroid gland, which is sensitive to stress. Skipping meals is also not a good idea. You can actually put on weight that way, because an uneven eating pattern will cause your body to conserve its T3 and T4 production.
Your prescription medicine may be causing your weight and energy problems. Many lithium-based medicines and estrogen boosters will impair the functions of your thyroid gland. If you are on Dilantin (phenytoin) for epilepsy, speak to your doctor about switching to a different type of treatment. Dilatin reduces the performance of your thyroid gland – so do barbiturates, such as Seconal (secobarbital sodium), beta blockers (eg. Propranolol), anti-cholesterol drugs and steroids.