What is a Thyroid? - Understanding thyroid condition

Thyroid is a small gland usually shaped like a butterfly located in front of your throat, slightly below your cartilage or Adam's apple. It is actually one of the largest endocrine glands in the body. Many people do not understand the importance of the thyroid to the body. The thyroid works behind the scene, secreting certain hormones that are vital to how your body performs certain functions. It is the master gland of metabolism; it performs this function by secreting two very important hormones amongst others.

The thyroid manipulates how quickly the body uses energy, by producing two principal hormones called triiodothyronine or (T3) and thyroxine also called (T4). These hormones feed your blood cells with vital oxygen that help cells convert oxygen and calories into energy and also affect the growth and rate of function of many other systems in your body. They also make proteins and control how sensitive the body should be to other hormones. It is important to understand that the thyroid has the only cells in your body with the ability to absorb iodine. The thyroid intake of iodine is obtained through food you eat like: iodized salt, or supplements, and combines it with the amino acid tyrosine. The thyroid then converts the iodine and amino acid into the hormones T3 and T4. The "3" and the "4" refer to the number of iodine molecules in each thyroid hormone molecule.

Understanding thyroid condition

It is considered in good condition, if all of the hormone produced by your thyroid, 80% will be T4 and 20% T3. However, T3 is considered the biologically more active hormone; the one that actually functions at the cellular level and is also considered stronger than T4.

Once released by the thyroid, the T3 and T4 travel through the bloodstream with the purpose of assisting your cells convert oxygen and calories into energy.

As mentioned earlier, the thyroid produces some T3. But the rest of the T3 needed by the body is actually formed from the mostly inactive T4 by a process sometimes referred to as "T4 to T3 conversion". This conversion of T4 to T3 can take place in some organs other than the thyroid, including the hypothalamus, a part of your brain.


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