Maximize Fat Loss by Targeting Thyroid Function with Nonprescription Supplements
by Keith Bishop
Targeting thyroid function may be a significant factor in a successful fat-loss program. Thyroid hormones support many bodily functions, including metabolism and energy. If metabolism is low, fewer calories are burned. If fewer calories are burned, one will have a difficult time burning fat.
Symptoms of low thyroid function include:
- Feeling cold or chilled for no apparent reason
- Slow heartbeat
- Slow reaction time, slow moving
- Low interest in sex
- Dry skin and/or hair
- Deepening voice
- Thick, brittle nails
- Weight gain
- Thinning eyebrows
- Swelling in the neck
- Hair loss
Blood tests are the only way to know if help is needed with prescription or nonprescription supplements. Thyroid blood tests are available from a doctor—including functional medicine doctors—and compounding pharmacies. Ask to have the following tests done: thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), free T3 and free T4. Additional thyroid tests are available if a fat-loss program doesn’t produce results.
TSH is produced by the pituitary gland in the brain. The higher the number, the greater there is concern for low thyroid.
Normal TSH values range from 0.4 to 4.0. The National Institutes of Health admit that some doctors believe the optimal range should be 0.4 to 2.5. If a TSH blood test is above 2.5, one may be low in thyroid hormone, have low energy, and may have a more difficult time burning fat.
Low thyroid is indicated by a high TSH level and low T4 and/or T3. T4 (thyroxine), which is produced by the thyroid gland, is not very active and does not have much of a direct impact on metabolism. T4 is converted by the liver, gut, muscles, brain and thyroid gland itself into T3 (triiodothyronine)—the most active thyroid hormone in the body. It is about five times more active or potent than T4.
Most of the T3 and T4 in your body binds to protein. Once T4 and T3 are in the tissues, they are separated from the protein carriers and become free T4 and free T3. Blood tests for the free thyroid hormones give a better indicator of what the body has to work with, not what is unusable and bound up to carrier proteins.
Thyroid hormones can be improved with supplements. Nonprescription supplements that support the body’s production of T4 include:
- Thyroid gland support
Thyroid T4 hormone production in the body depends on the combination of iodine and L-tyrosine, an amino acid that comes from proteins. Thyroid gland support nonprescription supplements rarely contain significant amounts of T4 and T3 hormones but contain essential nutrients that a healthy thyroid gland would normally produce. These supplements can help to support hormone function.
Nonprescription supplements that support the body’s conversion of T4 to the more active T3 include:
- Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate)
- Vitamin D3
- Guggul extract (flowering mukul myrrh tree)
- Vitamin E
Vitamins A and D and the mineral zinc support thyroid hormone T4 to T3 conversion and decrease the immune system attack on the thyroid.
Selenium is essential in processes that regulate thyroid hormone production, reduces oxidative damage in the thyroid gland, and supports the conversion of T4 to T3. Selenium can even help normalize T4 levels in the presence of iodine deficiency.
Rosemary and vitamin E reduce oxidative damage to the thyroid cells, which support normal growth and function.
Animal and human medical studies have found that the herb ashwagandha can support thyroid function as evidenced with improved T4 levels.
Always look for thyroid supplements that meet or exceed current good manufacturing practices quality standards to ensure that the product contains what is found on the label.
Keith Bishop is a clinical nutritionist at Flourish Compounding Pharmacy, 14720 N. Pennsylvania Ave., Oklahoma City. For more information, call 405-751-3333 or visit FlourishRx.com.