It is located in the front of the neck just below the Adam’s apple (larynx).
This little gland produces hormones that regulate the body’s:
- Digestive function
- Cognitive ability
- Muscle control
- Brain development
- Bone maintenance
- Toxicity, especially radiation
In order for this gland to produce adequate amounts of hormones, the diet must include enough iodine, which is a trace mineral, that can be found in the following foods:
- Dried seaweed
- Turkey breast
- Navy beans
- Baked potato
- Dried prunes
- Green beans
There are two hormones produced by the thyroid gland that are commonly tested by doctors:
- Triiodothyronine (T3), the more active hormone
- Thyroxine (T4), the more inactive hormone
The thyroid gland produces 20% of the body’s T3 and the other 80% comes from T4 which is converted from the liver or kidneys.
The thyroid gland also produces calcitonin from specific cells called C-cells.
Calcitonin is a rather unique hormone that works to control calcium and potassium by regulating blood calcium and phosphate levels in the body.
The releasing of these hormones from this gland is controlled by:
- Thyrotrophin-Releasing Hormone (TRH), which comes from the hypothalamus in the brain
- Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), which comes from the pituitary gland
These two hormones form a feedback loop called the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Thyroid Axis.
When stress increases and becomes chronic, this causes cortisol levels to elevate continuously and the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Thyroid Axis becomes dysfunctional.
When this happens, the thyroid produces much lower levels of thyroid hormone leading to “hypothyroidism”.
When too much thyroid hormone is produced it leads to “hyperthyroidism”.
According to Raphael Kellman MD, hypothyroidism or low thyroid has become very common among mothers of children who were later diagnosed with autism, learning disabilities, ADHD and developmental delays.
Dr. Kellman is a New York internist specializing in autism spectrum disorders who believes that many children with autism have inherited their mother’s thyroid dysfunction called Congenital Hypothyroidism.
See this story on Micah and Congenital Hypothyroidism and autism.
The following symptoms of hypothyroidism (low thyroid) in children are very similar to symptoms of autism:
- Speech delays
- Developmental delays
- Cognitive dysfunction
- Hypotonia (low muscle tone)
- Fine motor delays
- Attention deficit disorders
- Repetitive motions
- Social deficits
- Communication deficits
- GI abnormalities
- Feeding and eating problems
For more information and recommendations on the thyroid see Thyroid Conditions.
If you are unsure whether your child is iodine deficient or not, put a small amount of liquid iodine (nickel or quarter size) on the inside of the wrist and watch how long it take the body to absorb the iodine into the skin.
If the skin absorbs the iodine right away then your child is iodine deficient.
If the iodine takes 24 hours or so to absorb, then your child has sufficient amount of iodine.