Environmental Elements and Your Thyroid Health

Posted by Ben White on

Thyroid Health

Environmental pollutants are in food we eat, in the air we breathe and water we drink and bathe in. In excess, they can have profound negative effects on the basic mechanisms of body chemistry and affect the synthesis and actions of hormones essential for maintaining our health.

The thyroid, which is primarily responsible for regulating metabolism, is profoundly affected by natural and environmental pollutants.

Iodine & Selenium Deficiencies Affect Thyroid Function

Iodine and selenium are supplied in the food, water and nutrients we consume. Low levels in these sources can directly impact thyroid hormone synthesis and action. This may impact physical development, weight maintenance, heat production, and the ability of tissues and glands to produce other hormones. This results in the myriad of symptoms associated with low thyroid production and thyroid imbalance.

Surprisingly, iodine and selenium deficiencies persist in many parts of the world - including developed nations such as the United States. Iodine deficiency began to rise when iodized salt was replaced with regular salt in most restaurants, and the iodine commonly used in baking breads was replaced with bromine. Dietary shifts away from iodine-rich foods to reduce fat intake and iodine-deplete vegan diets have also resulted in lower iodine consumption.

Iodine & Selenium Antagonists Can Exacerbate Conditions

Mild deficiencies in iodine and selenium can be exacerbated when pollutants are present, such as bromine, arsenic or mercury, which inhibit iodine incorporation into thyroid hormone and selenium incorporation into selenoproteins. Foods such as cruciferous vegetables and soy also contain goitrogens that can block iodine intake and synthesis of thyroid hormone. 

Measuring Deficiency

Since the five elements iodine, selenium, bromine, arsenic and mercury are excreted mainly in urine, the degree of exposure to them can be determined by urine testing. To better appreciate how thyroid agonists and antagonists might be affecting thyroid hormone synthesis, ZRT has developed a urine test to monitor levels of these elements.

Knowing exposure to these elements will help provide insight into why you may not synthesize adequate amounts of thyroid hormones, or why your thyroid hormone levels in blood may be normal, but you suffer from thyroid deficiency symptoms.

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