According to the Thyroid Foundation of Canada, one in 10 Canadians suffers from a thyroid disorder, and nearly half of them don't even know it.
Shaped like a butterfly, the thyroid gland consists of two lobes located in the neck below the larynx. The thyroid serves as the body's thermostat, so to speak, producing hormones that determine how much energy the body's cells need and how fast they need to function. Think of it kind of like a car: if you put the pedal to the metal or release it, the car will either speed up or slow down. That's basically how the thyroid works. When in "neutral," your body's "machinery" will be idling at the right speed.
What's all the hype about hyper and hypo?
When hormone production slows—this is what we call hypothyroidism—all bodily functions get sluggish. The slowing of the thyroid gland often results in:
- increased physical fatigue,
- difficulty getting up in the morning after a good night's sleep,
- the feeling of always being cold,
- weight gain,
- hair loss,
- trouble concentrating, and
- symptoms of depression or anxiety,
to name just the most common ones.
When the opposite occurs—what we call hyperthyroidism—the thyroid goes into overdrive and secretes too many hormones. Symptoms include:
- weight loss despite a normal or even increased appetite,
- increased sweating and hot flashes,
- mood swings,
- more frequent bowel movements,
- a change in the menstrual cycle in women, and more.
If you've been diagnosed with a thyroid condition by your doctor, it's important to follow the prescribed treatment. However, adopting nutritional recommendations and healthy lifestyle habits can help you better manage your symptoms and balance your thyroid.
Healthy lifestyle habits for balanced thyroid health
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I suggest gradually getting your body used to doing more and more physical exercise; it's best to opt for light- to moderate-intensity activities like walking, swimming or yoga. Simply getting active on a daily basis has a regulating effect on hormone production.
Cut down on stimulants such as caffeine, energy drinks, soft drinks and refined sugars.
To produce thyroid hormones, your thyroid gland needs the right amount of trace elements such as selenium, zinc and iodine—a deficiency in any one of these can slow thyroid function.
Eat selenium-rich foods such as eggs, sunflower seeds, onions, seafood and seaweed. Also include zinc-rich foods such as salmon, shrimp, brown rice, potatoes and almonds.
Opt for unbleached sea salt retaining all its minerals, combined with kelp; this is precisely what goes into A.Vogel's Herbamare seasonings, which I love.
Natural supplementation with A.Vogel
For hypothyroidism, A.Vogel Thyroid Support – Kelpasan is without a doubt my favourite product for nourishing and gently supporting my thyroid gland, which is often exhausted, especially when the seasons change.
It comes in the form of a very small tablet of kelp, an iodine-rich seaweed highly prized by marine animals and people living in island communities. A.Vogel Thyroid Support is a fresh, standardized extract that provides a constant daily dose.
Start slowly by taking one tablet each morning for at least a week, then two a day the following week, and finally three a day (maximum). Do not take A.Vogel Thyroid Support if you are currently taking Synthroid®.
For hyperthyroidism, I suggest A.Vogel Avenaforce, which contains flowering oats that act on the thyroid like a natural tranquilizer.
Your thyroid will also need iodine, but don't go overboard or you'll get the opposite effect. Bio-Strath is a fermented food rich in B vitamins that will help you reduce the risk of dietary deficiencies due to an overly fast metabolism. It also has a calming effect on a stressed nervous system.
Take good care of your thyroid!