Is your Thyroid function affecting your fertility?
The Thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland that sits right at the front of the neck just above the larynx. When it is said that ‘Great Things Come in Small Packages,’ It could well have been about the thyroid gland.
It may be small but the hormones it releases affect every single cell in the body, and just about every bodily process, especially metabolism, temperature and fertility, require the thyroid to be at its best, put simply, if the thyroid is under-functioning (hypo-thyroidism) it may be sending out too few hormones, which leaves you feeling cold, sluggish and tired. It can also lead to weight gain.
And if the thyroid is over functioning (hyper-thyroidism) you may feel nervous, sweaty and jittery which often leads to losing weight.
So whether any of the above sounds familiar or you are currently taking thyroid medication, it is still super important to support this vital gland, so it can support you on your fertility journey. After all one good turn deserves another.
Your doctor can do a simple test to determine whether the thyroid is functioning properly especially if you suspect it isn’t, however, please bear in mind not all tests are conclusive, which brings me to why and what we should be eating for a healthy, fully functioning thyroid gland.
There are many nutrients needed by this all-important gland and for many different reasons, as you will learn, however the 2 key nutrients are Iodine and Selenium, both of which have become more and more depleted in our diets over the years.
At one time, cows teats were routinely cleaned with iodine so traces invariably made it into the milk and subsequently into our diets. This practice no longer exists. Likewise, it is no longer compulsory to add Iodine to table salt.
On top of this selenium deficiency has become a problem. By joining the EU many years ago we were forced to buy flour from EU countries with low soil selenium levels. I don’t know about you but I am always totally amazed at how seemingly simple changes like this can impact our lives so greatly, they could easily explain the increase in thyroid problems and matters concerning fertility.
Luckily for you, eating just 2 brazil nuts a day can provide all the Selenium you need to protect your thyroid gland against damage and to promote the correct thyroid hormone conversions.
And Iodine is easily found in fish, seafood, sushi, raisins and pineapple. It helps the thyroid gland to make the all-important hormone, thyroxine. (However, please note, if you have a confirmed case of hypothyroidism, too much Iodine could cause another set of problems so be moderate with these suggestions initially.)
Another supporting nutrients are Zinc, of which a deficiency is fairly common and has been linked to male infertility, although it can readily be found in seafood, nuts, seeds, whole grains and leafy greens.
The amino acid, Tyrosine is also used by the body to create the all-important hormone thyroxine, it is found in fish, meat, sunflower seeds, almonds, oats and eggs.
Converted from Beta Carotene, Vitamin A is readily found in orange vegetables, fish, leafy greens and tropical fruits, it is especially good for both male and female reproductive organs thus increasing chances of conception. (Hypothyroidism sufferers may struggle with this conversion so a good quality Vitamin A supplement would be advisable. Too much Vitamin A when pregnant is not advisable so stop any supplements once conception has taken place along with seafood and other items on the do not eat list that may be included above for pre-conception.
Iron is a great supporter of the thyroid and helps to protect against hypo-thyroidism as it regulates thyroid hormone levels. It is a particularly important nutrient for women throughout their menstrual years, conception and pregnancy. It is found in red meat, dark chocolate/cocoa powder, some green vegetables and parsley.
And last but not least Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, has a vitally important role as without it the cells can not make use of the thyroid hormone. In the winter months Vitamin D from sun exposure is limited so eat plenty of eggs, butter and oily fish. Mushrooms are believed to be the only plant source of Vitamin D so these should be included in your diet regularly. Fish liver oil supplements* contain Vitamin A, Vitamin D and Essential Fatty Acids.
Nutrient deficiency is becoming more and more widespread as our diets become more processed and much less colourful. Small changes can make a big difference and trying to find ways to include whole foods into your daily diet could be the difference between now and you are happy ever after.
Your Healthy Self