The thyroid is a small gland located in the front of the throat. It secretes thyroid hormones T3, which is converted to T4 in the blood. The secretion is stimulated by Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) from the anterior pituitary gland. Thyroid hormone affects all the metabolic processes, from body temperature to heart beat. The activity of the thyroid gland can be assessed by measuring the levels of TSH, free T3, and free T4.

Hashimoto’s disease, the most common cause of low thyroid levels, is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the thyroid gland making it unable to produce adequate levels of thyroid hormones.

Features of Hypothyroidism

  • Increased susceptibility to infection
  • Muscles cramps
  • Persistent low back pain
  • Easy bruising
  • Mental sluggishness
  • Emotional instability
  • Feel cold easily
  • Dry, coarse and pale skin
  • Coarse and sparse hair
  • Anaemia

Thyroid Hormone & Aging

The incidence of frank hypothyroidism is much higher in the older age group. However, thyroid hormone does not have the age-related decline characteristic of HGH or DHEA. Its deficiency is common in the population, with 15 - 40% of people suffering in some way from a relatively under-active thyroid.

Apart from the features mentioned above, thyroid deficiency can be translated into risk of age-associated diseases:

  • Increased risk of adult-onset diabetes
  • Increased levels of cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Increased risk of heart disease and high blood pressure
  • Dementia and other impaired cognitive functions, such as slow thinking, difficulty in concentration, and poor memory.

Thyroid hormone replacement therapy is one of the unabashed successes of modern clinical medicine. It is a standard practice to replace the thyroid hormone when a patient has the above features of hypothyroidism and a low T3 and T4 measurement.

Side Effects & Safety

It should be done under medical supervision, with regular blood tests to check for appropriate levels of TSH, free T3 and free T4. Too much replacement will result in potentially dangerous side effects, such as excessive bone loss, high blood pressure, and abnormal heart rhythm.

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