Overweight Caused by Under-Active Thyroid?

By: Anju Mathur, MD

The Thyroid Foundation of America says YES!
There could be tens of millions of women in American suffering from an under active thyroid gland who aren't even aware that this little gland causes their problem. Certainly there are over 11 million women known to have a thyroid gland not working properly, says the Thyroid Foundation of America.
Women ages 35 to 55 are most affected - during this time women start and go through the change of life - menopause.
Many Americans suffer from symptoms such as cold hands and feet, low body temperature, sensitivity to cold, a feeling of always being chilled, headaches, insomnia, dry skin, puffy eyes, hair loss, brittle nails, joint aches, constipation, mental dullness, fatigue, frequent infections, hoarse voice, ringing in the ears, dizziness, loss of libido, and weight gain, which is sometimes uncontrollable. These symptoms can be caused by an under active thyroid gland.
Research is pointing to the fact that an under active thyroid might be the number one cause of weight problems, especially among women, in the US today.
A thyroid gland that does not produce enough hormones is a condition called hypothyroidism, where your body uses energy more slowly than it should. This is the most common condition. Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone, causing the body to use energy more quickly than it should. Besides the above listed symptoms, hypothyroidism can also be responsible for hot flashes, irritability, depression, high cholesterol, and palpitations.
Leveling out your thyroid hormone production easily helps control weight gain.
As main regulators of the body's rate of metabolism, thyroid hormones regulate how the body burns carbohydrates and fats. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough of these "energy-generating" thyroid hormones, causing a low resting metabolic rate, which can cause weight gain and obesity.
Appetite can also be affected by lack of thyroid hormones. The hormones have been shown in some studies to regulate the levels of leptin in the body, another hormone, which is produced from fat cells. Leptin is believed to be used by the body to regulate hunger and energy levels.
How much energy people have, how well they get up in the morning, how well they sleep, and how much stamina they have for the day is directly related to their levels of thyroid hormone, in addition to body weight. When your thyroid level is too low, you don't have the energy to cope adequately with anything, much less the additional stress and emotional liability associated with the menopausal years.
There is more to hypothyroidism than just less thyroid activity. The thyroid gland produces less thyroxin (T4). The T4 must then be converted to triiodothyronine (T3) by the liver. T3 is the active hormone. The body must then effectively utilize T3. Any of these processes can be disturbed and lead to hypothyroidism symptoms. At a point where thyroid hormone levels are insufficient, the body's processes start slowing down.
The lack of uniformity of symptoms makes thyroid diseases hard to diagnose, and for that reason the only certain way to detect the condition is blood tests.
Control of thyroid hormone production, can result in:
1. Increase metabolic rate and number of calories burned.
2. Diets now work for weight loss because failures were caused by hormone imbalance.
3. Less feelings of hunger.
4. Easing of other symptoms of hypothyroidism.

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