The Thyroid Gland
The thyroid gland is located immediately below the larynx and a butterfly-shaped organ, just in front and on both sides of the trachea. The right and the left lobe are connected by a small middle lobe, called thyroid isthmus.
Aprox 50% of the earth’s population have an over-sized thyroid gland and about a third of the population have additional changes that make a thyroid therapy necessary. Especially during pregnancy, but also after having reached the age of 30, regressive-degenerative changes with calcification, nodular and partly regressive-cystic transmutations may occur.
The thyroid gland’s function is to supply the organism with the thyroid hormones L-Thyroxin = L-T4 and L-Triiodothyronine = L-T3. The micro-element Iodine, is the heaviest and also a most essential component of thyroid hormones.
Thus changes in the daily iodine dose, supplied through nutrition, have great influence on the thyroid gland’s function and morphology (structure). According to calculations of the WHO (World Health Organisation) an average adult needs between 150 to 250 µg iodine per day.
Iron / Ferritin
An important enzyme for the thyroid hormone production is Thyroxineperoxidase. This key enzyme for hormone synthesis is not produced sufficiently during a period of iron deficiency. Hence, the Ferritin level and therefore the iron supply should always be controlled.
In addition to iodine, iron becomes particularly important to keep up the usual thyroid functions. Iron is an essential component of thyroidperoxidase. In one of his publications Gärtner showed that women with an iron deficiency (Ferritin level below 30 μg/l) have a significantly low FT4 and FT3 at a slightly high TSH level. Further tests considering children showed that under an iron deficiency (Ferritin level below 20 μg/l) an iodine substitution does not lead to a reduction of the struma. Far more a reduction only occurs after balancing this iron deficiency. This has a high clinical significance, as Gärtner says, because Ferritin is not part of the routine diagnostic of thyroid malfunctions. As new consolidated findings prove, such a therapy definitely must be considered, as particularly young women often show an iron deficiency in addition to a low iodine level. At a Ferritin level below 30 μl, the iron deficiency should be solved as well to achieve a well-working Struma prophylaxis or Struma therapy (Zimmermann et al in Thyroid 12: 867-78, 2002).
The thyroid gland is the only gland, which – possibly as a mechanism of adjustment to the irregular iodine supply – is capable of storing great amounts of hormones, so that the stock lasts for about two months.
The thyroid gland synthesizes hormones into the blood cycle according to the current body need. Thus the thyroid gland daily synthesizes about 100 μg of L-T4. L-T3 is only secreted in small amounts, as it is mainly produced from L-T4 outside the gland through influence of the enzyme-type-I-5/-Dejodase.
This Dejodase can, considering genetic abilities, can work at significantly lower rate, which finally leads to a more or less strongly revealed deficiency of the usual very effective L-T3 hormone. This fact currently has become focus of many scientists considering weight problems. Dejodase secretion can be stimulated through Selenium supply.
The thyroid hormones influence (L-T3 ten-times as potent as L-T4):
– Carbohydrate metabolism
They lead to an increasing rate of the intestinal absorption of carbohydrates, an increase in the rate of gluconeogenesis and to a raise in carbohydrate breakdown. This supports the effect of insulin, although at the same time insulin increasingly disintegrates, so that the insulin demand generally rises.
They lead to an increase in fat mobilisation and breakdown of stored fats, but also to a slightly higher lipid synthesis. Hence, in case of a hyper-activity (Hyperthyreosis) the cholesterol level decreases, whereas in case of a hypofunction (hypothyreosis) the cholesterol level increases.
At normal concentration levels they have an anabolic effect. At increased hormone concentrations (hyper-function) there is a catabolic (deconstructing) effect.
– Bone Metabolism
Only through a sufficient supply of thyroid hormones can the skeletal system develop ideally. A deficiency in supply may lead to a disproportional lower growth (dwarfism). Within adults thyroid hormones at normal concentration level effect the activation of bone construction (Osteoblasts).
The predominance of bone deconstruction in case of a hyperthyreosis (hyper-function) may lead to a loss of bone substance (Osteoporosis).
– Central Nervous System (CNS)
The neuro-muscular transmission and muscle structure: Thyroid hormones are most essential to achieve normal brain development, as hormone deficiencies during pregnancy may lead to irreversible damage, but the adult may also suffer from changes in the central nervous system, tendon reflexes and muscle system, caused through a hormone under- or overproduction.
Thyroid hormones influence the whole intermediate metabolism and have a major significance for the normal function of gonads (reproductive organs) and a majority of other physiologic processes.
What is selenium?
Selen is – similar to iodine – a micro element. The human body cannot provide selen itself, so that a daily sufficient dose must be provided through a good nutrition. However, as the grounds only contain a low amount of selen, the selen supply through food in Germany is often regarded as insufficient.
Selen is an indispensable component of the body’s own proteins, which cannot fullfill the body’s tasks without selenium. Health and the body’s own defence considering diseases is also dependent on an optimal supply of micro elements, such as selenium. Every single cell in the human body in its function is influenced by micro elements, amongst other things. Thus, it is comprehensible that possible supply deficiencies can cause problems. An additional administration of selenium can always be recommended if a disease or an incriminating situation may challenge an optimal accomodation. A higher demand often exists for persons with a usually long occuring or chronic inflammable diseases, e.g. of the thyroid gland, particularly autoimmune diseases of the Hashimoto type.
High Selenium content in the thyroid gland
The thyroid gland has the highest selenium content of all human organs. A sufficient selenium supply is a significant factor for the gland’s function. If selenium is not supplied through food in sufficient amounts, a lack can lead to disturbances in the thyroid metabolism.
Selenium is indespensable for the thyroid gland’s function
The thyroid gland is a small, but important organ. Thyroid hormones have an important role in controlling metabolism processes, which influence the metabolism of sugar, proteins and fat as well as basic areas of the energy household.
Thyroid hormones control the complete metabolism’s activity, which means controlling whether the metabolism works with high or low activity. The have influence on corporal development, particularly in an infantile status. Besides this, the mental constitution significantly depends on the thyroid’s function. A special family of selenium containing proteins, called deiodinases, plays a leading role in the activation and deactivation of thyroid hormones. With a low selenium supply no sufficient amount of hormones can be synthesized.
Selenium – an important component of the antioxidant protective system
The selenium containing protein Glutathionperoxidase protects with its ability as “radical catcher” and other connections cells against damages, particularly considering genetic material and cell membranes. Radicals are aggressive bondings which can be built through e.g. radiation, medical treatment, environmental poisions, but also normal metabolism. In the thyroid metabolism hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)is set free during the production of thyroid hormones. Hydrogen peroxide is known as an aggressive bleaching agent considering bleached hair. In the intention of the body for the H2O2 not to harm the thyroid gland it mus be neutralized. This is done through glutathione peroxidase. As the protein in its activity again is dependent on selenium, the thyroid tissue can be damaged in case of an insufficient selenium provision.
Thyroid diseases can develop in different ways. Thus, an iodine difficiency in food is the most occuring reasong for strumas to arise. Nonetheless, the body itself may cause damage on the thyroid gland. The Hashimoto-Thyreoiditis or the basedow disease are so called autoimmune diseases of the thyroid gland. Thereby the body attacks itself or rather its organes with the immune system. The defence substances, which normally should fight pathogens, suddenly are incorrectly programmed and and alienate e.g. the thyroid gland. The body then reacts as in case of a normal defence reaction, namley with an inflammation of the organ.
Autoimmune diseases of the thyroid gland: Self-attack of the body
The Hashimoto-Thyreoiditis, known after the Japanese discoverer Hashimoto, is mostly occurring form of a thyroid inflammation. With this disease the thyroid tissue is chronically inflamed, often not known over longer time periods, and the body builds up antibodies against the own thyroid gland for unknown reasons. The body-own tissue is erroneously classified as exogenous. Thus thyroid tissue is destroyed and the amount of thyroid hormones produced becomes insufficient. For this reason thyroid inflammations of the Hashimoto type count as “autoimmune diseases”.
What are the consequences of a Hashimoto-Thyreoiditis?
Through the replacement of thyroid tissue through connective tissue the thyroid gland shrinks and more fully funtional thyroid cells continously die off. The consequence is a decrease in the hormone production and a stealthily developing and proceeding hypofunction (Hypothyreosis) with many negative consequences for the organism.
Selenium and therapy
Accoding to new consolidated findings, a preferably early application of selenium is promising considering autoimmune diseases of the thyroid gland – there are also positive experiences considering Morbus Basedow.
Especially with a chronic thyroid inflammation of the Hashimoto type it has been shown that a continous intake of selenium in form of natrium-selenite can significantly lower the inflammation activity. This can also be seen in the decline of TPO antibodies (TPO-AK are antibodies against a certain enzyme of the thyroid gland). The amount of antibidies is a measure for the disease activity.
The selenium supply has a positive effect on the general condition of the person concerned, the qualitiy of live improves considering the concentrativeness, mood and corporal capacity. A daily dose of 200 mikrogram selenium in form of natrium-selenite is suggestive and does not cause knock-on effects.
With the Hashimoto-Thyreoidits therapy mainly symptoms are controverted. Under the adoption of selenium, for the first time, a causative therapy of this autoimmune disease seems to be possible.
Through a selective administration of selenium the inflammation process can be decreased and the qualitity of live may be improved significantly.
However, the continous supply of natrium-selenite is very important.
Adults: 200 mikrograms of selenium a day
Adulescents: 100 mikrograms of selenium a day
Children: 50 mikrograms selenium a day
Selenium in form of natrium-selenite
In form of natrium-selenite selnium is particularly advantageous for the organism. Natrium-selenite is optimally utilisable and stands out through a precise installation into considered protection system or rather selenium containing proteins. An additional selenium administration usually is well compliant.
Selenium (Natrium-selenite) gives a very precious contribution in the therapy of thyroid funtion disturbances, particularly when considering a Hashimoto-Thyreoiditis.
Information of the Cefak KG, P.O.B. box 1360, 87403 Kempten
Selenium plays an important role within the modulation of the immune system and during the biosynthesis of thyroid hormones and their activation (important for the provision of Type-I-Thyroxine-5-Dejodase)
Iodine supply and pregancy
Atlanta 2004, workshops considering the topic of maternal thyroid diseases and fetal development: A group of experts now recommends a daily iodine administration of 150 µg per day for pregnant and breast feeding women (earlier on a daily dose of 200 – 290 µg was recommended). Considering pregnant women with an autoimmune disease of the thyroid gland it is generally recommended to reduce the iodine administration to 100 µg a day.
Effects of iodine and thyroid hormones during the therapy of a Hashimoto-Thyreoiditis
Often, the intake of iodine during a Hashimoto-Thyreoiditis is regarded critically or even disadvised. Is this justified? Also from our side of view it is not. Nowadays, there are clear facts showing that higher iodine doses can trigger the outbreak of a Hashimoto-Thyreoiditis. At the same time doses of more than 250 µg iodine per day are meant. Thus it surely is not reasonable to exhibit such higher doses in case of a Hashimoto-Thyreoiditis. In very comprehensive and meaningful studies previously made by Rink et al. (Th. Rink, H.-J. Schroth, L.-H. Holle, H. Garth: Effects of iodine and thyroid hormones during an induction and therapy of a thyreoiditis Hashimoto.
In Nuclear Medicine 1999; 38:144-9) it is said that a low iodine substitution in combination with a hormone therapy does significantly decrease the thyroid auto antibodies. Considering an upcoming evaluation of a study with 700 patients suffering from a Hashimoto-Thyreoiditis those results can be approved. Thus, in conclusion it can be said that with a iodine deficiency a low dosed substitution (up to 150 µg per day) can be highly recommended.