by Melissa Chichester
And although this gland is small, it plays many important roles in the body.
Here are 7 questions you may have about the thyroid and how you can care for this important part of your health and wellness.
The thyroid’s main job is to create hormones, including thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones are made from dietary iodine. Then they travel throughout your body to support metabolism, growth, and body temperature.
Yes. Your doctor can order certain blood tests to evaluate thyroid function. According to the American Thyroid Association, the first test conducted is typically a TSH blood test. However, this may vary depending on your doctor and your health. This test measures thyroid hormone levels.
Other tests include blood tests for antibodies, T3 tests, and T4 tests. Non-blood thyroid tests include ultrasounds, scans, and a radioactive iodine uptake test.
The only way to know for sure if you have a thyroid issue is to have testing done by a healthcare professional.
Healthy habits that support overall good health also support thyroid health. This includes regular exercise, eating a well-rounded diet that includes fruits and vegetables, and avoiding smoking.
However, it is worth noting that your intake of healthy foods should include food sources of iodine. Iodine is a natural trace element and an essential nutrient for thyroid health.
The Recommended Dietary Allowances for iodine are 150 mcg for men and women older than 19, and slightly higher for pregnant women (220 mcg).
A well-rounded diet that contains a variety of fruits, vegetables, protein types, and whole grains supports overall good health.
If you want to ensure you are receiving adequate iodine, there are some foods enriched with iodine, including some brands of table salt and bread. Other sources of iodine include dairy products, seafood, and eggs. One of the best food sources of iodine is seaweed.
What supplements support thyroid health?
To complement a healthy diet, supplements can be useful to your daily routine, including:
Self-exams are a great way to check your thyroid. Here’s how the Cleveland Clinic suggests conducting a thyroid self-check. You will only need a mirror and a glass of water.
Find the area where your thyroid is located. It is in the area between the collarbone and Adam’s apple. Women can look from the collar bone up to find it.
While looking in a mirror, tip your head back.
While your head is tipped back, take a drink of water. Look at the area where your thyroid is.
Look for lumps or bumps on the thyroid while swallowing.
Repeat the test. If you see any bumps, contact your doctor.
The thyroid is a small but complex gland. Optimal thyroid health can be achieved by communicating any concerns you have with a doctor. This is especially important as you get older or if you have a family history of thyroid issues.