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Thyroid Weight Loss Supplements

The thyroid is the largest of the endocrine glands, the glands which are responsible for releasing hormones into the bloodstream.  The hormones released by the thyroid have numerous vital functions for the body, especially in regards to energy use.  The thyroid regulates metabolism speed to determine how efficiently we burn calories, use energy, and make proteins. There are numerous hormones linked with thyroid function.  However, the most predominant are known as T3 and T4.  When levels of T3 and T4 become low, a condition known as hypothyroidism occurs.

Hypothyroidism causes numerous symptoms in people afflicted with it.  They will almost inevitably gain weight, feel fatigued, have trouble focusing, feel chronically cold, and have poor quality skin/hair. Other symptoms of hypothyroidism are high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, depression, constipation, and digestive problems.  Unfortunately, hypothyroidism often goes undiagnosed in people and its consequences thus become more severe.  Part of the reason that hypothyroidism is so under-diagnosed is because symptoms set on gradually.  These symptoms may also be dismissed as common problems, such as obesity due to lifestyle choices or aging.

Doctors are often reluctant to prescribe medications to people who exhibit signs of hypothyroidism unless their thyroid hormones are clearly outside the range of normal.  There are dangers associated with thyroid medications, including increased heart rate, palpitations, anxiety, insomnia, and diarrhea. For many people struggling with weight loss, these thyroid medications are not necessary.  However, they could still benefit from a boost in thyroid function.  This is what thyroid weight loss supplements promise to do.

Thyroid weight loss supplements do not contain hormones like the prescription hypothyroidism drugs.  Instead, they contain ingredients which purport to support your thyroid.  One of the most common natural supplements for thyroid function and weight loss is bladderwrack (kelp).  Bladderwrack contains high amounts of iodine which is important for thyroid function.  An iodine deficiency, while rare in developed countries, is one of the possible causes of decreased thyroid function.  While the efficacy of bladderwrack is unclear, it is clear that it can cause several side effects. Among these is hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid. It has also been associated with heavy metal poisoning. It should not be used in pregnancy due to these safety concerns. Many natural thyroid weight loss supplements will also contain vitamin E which supposedly helps your body absorb iodine. Other essential vitamins and minerals, like zinc, are also important for thyroid support.  Taking a daily multivitamin could be the first step for you to lose weight and is considered safe.

Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) has become increasingly popular as a weight-loss supplement because it promises to increase thyroid function. This natural chemical is found primarily in dairy and meat products.  Supplements with CLA claim to decrease cholesterol levels, fight cancer, and support weight loss. Numerous studies support that CLA is effective in helping weight loss. However, there are some risks associated with CLA supplements, including an increasing insulin resistance in diabetes.  You can read more about CLA weight loss supplements here (www.weightloss.us/conjugated-linoleic-acid-is-it-weight-loss-magic/).

Two other common ingredients in thyroid weight loss supplements are Guggulsterones and forskolins.  The first is a plant-based steroid and the second increases levels of cGMP in the body.  Both are backed by some studies which support their use for weight loss and thyroid function, but other studies show no change in weight.

Aside from weight loss, there are numerous other benefits associated with increased thyroid function.  You may experience increased energy, sleep better, become more alert, have better cognitive abilities, and have better-looking hair and skin.  If taking a multivitamin for thyroid function, then you may experience other health benefits from the vitamins as well.  However, it is very important to take caution when choosing a thyroid weight loss supplement. Many of them contain ingredients which support weight loss in other ways, such as by stimulating the body.  This can cause dangerous side effects and hinder your weight loss in the long run.  If you think that your thyroid is the cause of your weight problem, then it is always best to talk to your doctor before taking any weight loss supplement to find out what the best solution is for you.

References:

Egger, Garry, David Cameron-Smith, and Rosemary Stanton. “The effectiveness of popular, non-prescription weight loss supplements.” The Medical Journal of Australia 171 (1999): 604-608. Web.

Burne, Jerome. “The wake-you-up pill…how a controversial thyroid supplement could help tiredness.” Dailymail.co.uk. Daily Mail. Jan 2008.  Web.

“Thyroid Regulation.” Lef.org. Life Extension. N.d. Web.

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