23 Reasons Your Thyroid Is More Important Than You Ever Imagined

Not feeling frisky lately? That could be your thyroid talking.

When you think of important body parts, chances are, the usual suspects come to mind. Your brain, your heart, your lungs. But more and more research is indicating that a certain prolific hormone producer deserves to be part of that "essential organs" echelon. Yes, we're talking about your thyroid, the tiny, monarch-shaped gland nestled right below your larynx.

When it comes to your body and how it functions, the thyroid affects it all—from your skin to your muscles to the hormonal levels of each individual organ. (It's also a huge indicator of how you perform in the bedroom.) So read on and see why this thing you've never given a second thought to deserves your attention.

It Produces Essential Hormones

doctor thyroid

The thyroid produces two important hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones essentially travel around the body and help regulate the metabolism of each part of the body, right on down to cell metabolism. T3 and T4 affect every tissue in your body. In other words, your thyroid is extremely important.

It Keeps Your Bones Tough

stretching thyroid

In addition to T3 and T4, your thyroid produces a hormone called calcitonin. According to the American Thyroid Association, this hormone is used to regulate the osteoclasts in the bones. Osteoclasts are essential for bone repair and upkeep—and they prevent hypercalcemia by helping keep your blood-calcium levels in check.

It Can Dampen Your Libido

sex libido thyroid

If you just haven't been feeling it lately, it may be caused by a thyroid problem. See, T3 and T4 levels affect your libido. Per some experts, low levels of those hormones can plummet your sex drive. Your thyroid should regulate that on its own. But if you're still not feeling it, try cutting out processed food: That's a surefire way to increase your T3 and T4 levels.

It Keeps Headaches at Bay

man sitting in an armchair suffering from a headache - what causes headaches

A 2016 study found that there was a significant link between people with frequent headaches and migraines and those with a thyroid hormone deficiency. So you can thank your thyroid for keeping your head relaxed and focused today—or you can blame it for causing your cranium to hurt on a day-to-day basis.

It Helps Keep Skeletal Muscles Strong

man with strong muscles resting after a workout

Your thyroid plays a key part in the regeneration of your skeletal muscles. According to a 2013 study published in Nature Reviews Endocrinology, researchers found that, without the T3 hormone, your muscles can't fully repair themselves. Considering skeletal muscles make up 30 to 40 percent of your body's mass, that should be reason enough to keep your thyroid healthy.

It Helps You Feel Awake

waking up thyroid

In addition to a regular good night's sleep, your thyroid can be the thing to thank for how alert you felt this morning. When your T3 and T4 levels get too high, your heart races, you will feel tired quicker, and, chances are, you won't be able to optimize on your day. But when your thyroid is working normally, it will protect you from that inevitable 2:30 p.m. feeling. And if you're just looking for more energy on the whole, here are 50 Ways to Be a Higher-Energy Person Immediately.

It Regulates Your Metabolism

metabolism thyroid

To put it (very) simply, the metabolic process is that of converting food or fuel into usable energy. The thyroid hormone plays a huge role in that process. According to a 2013 review published in the European Thyroid Journal, thyroid hormones manage the body's metabolism, down to each cell, keeping them all running smoothly.

It Affects The Thickness of Your Skin

woman mirror skin thyroid

T3 and T4 are important regulators of the homeostasis of your skin's epidermal. Having too little will lower the thickness of your top layer of skin —also known as your skin's protection from the outside world, especially the sun. Having a healthy thyroid will help you avoid the damage that's caused by thinning skin.

It Can Stop Acne

man acne skin thyroid

A 2012 study in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology found there to be a link between your thyroid hormones and adult acne. So if you have been breaking out more than usual, the problem might be more than skin-deep: It could be a thyroid hormone deficiency. And for great ways to keep a your youthful glow, here are 40 Ways to Guarantee Healthy Skin After 40.

It's In Charge of Your Body Temperature

temperature thyroid

A 2013 study out of the Karolinska Institutet found that mice who were given lower levels of T3 and T4 had lower body temperatures. Your thyroid controls how much your blood vessels dilate. When the vessels are more dilated, more heat can escape. In other words, your body temperature will go down. So you can thank your thyroid for how your body adapts to temperature.

It Keeps Your Heartbeat Regulated

running heart beat thyroid

The thyroid hormone also helps keep your heart rate in a normal range—and at a normal strength. A study in the Embo Journal found that mice who had less access to thyroid hormones had a 20 percent lower heartbeat than those with a normal hormone exposure. This is because, with a deficiency, the arteries become less elastic and it takes longer for blood to circulate.

It Protects You From Heart Palpitations

heart attack thyroid

Having too much of the hormone can be a problem too; your thyroid controls how much T3 and T4 goes to your heart. According to Doctor Ruchi Mathur, MD, if your heart has too much thyroid hormone, it can make your heart beat faster and harder, which can then cause abnormal heart rhythms and can even cause heart palpitations.

It Affects Your Blood Pressure, Too

keep calm relax get to it chill out look younger

A review by the Mayo Clinic found that having either too much or too little T3 and T4 can raise your blood pressure—even to the point of secondary hypertension. So that's a great reason to make sure your thyroid is always operating correctly.

It Keeps Your Cholesterol Balanced

cholesterol thyroid

Thyroid hormones play a big role in the regulation of cholesterol as well. A study in the Clinical Thyroidology For Patients found a strong link between thyroid hormone levels and cholesterol levels. High cholesterol, of course, can increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, and aortal aneurysms.

It Helps Keep Your Weight In Check

weight loss thyroid

Your T3 and T4 levels affect your BMR—or your base metabolic rate. According to a 2013 review in the Journal of Clinical Research in Pediatric Endocrinology, studies have shown that affecting your BMR will directly result in a change of body weight. People who are deficient in thyroid hormones stand a greater chance at gaining weight because their body won't be able to convert energy intake into usable energy as quickly.

It Keeps Your Brain Sharp

reading thyroid

A 2015 study on Thyroidmanager found that there is a strong link between thyroid hormones and brain function. Your brain needs these hormones to help it continuously change and develop. So if you want to remain wise beyond your years, keeping your thyroid healthy and active is a must.

It Helps Keep You Clear Mentally

relaxed woman sitting in the grass by the ocean

It's not all about your body. Your thyroid—and the hormones it produces—affect you mentally, as well. Lower levels of T3 and T4 can cause mental illnesses such as depression or mood swings, while, if it is in excess, your mind might race endless or experience sudden anxiety.

It Affects Your Digestion

stomach ache thyroid

Your thyroid plays a role in making sure the food you take in, well, goes out just as easily. According to a study from the World Journal of Gastroenterology, having high levels of T3 and T4 can cause digestive issues, such as diarrhea.

It Keeps Your Liver Bile Flowing Smoothly

man with a stomachache

A study in the World Journal of Gastroenterology found that, when you have lower levels of thyroid hormones, your body has a harder time moving bile through the digestive tract. This can lead to some serious heartburn.

Your Thyroid Is Connected To Your Joint Pain

lower back pain thyroid

According to the Mayo Clinic, you can experience joint and muscle pains and aches if you have a low T3 and T4 levels. Feeling sore? That might be more than post-workout fatigue.

It Can Affect Your Unborn Child

pregnant woman getting a doctor checkup

Pregnant women should make an extra effort to get their thyroid hormone levels checked. Per one study in the Annals of Neurology, pregnant women who don't produce enough thyroid hormone are almost four times more likely to have autistic children compared to healthy women with adequate amounts of thyroid hormone.

It Can Prevent You From Getting Pregnant

pregnancy test

The health of your thyroid could have an impact on whether you're able to reproduce. According to research published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, women with unexplained infertility problems were almost twice as likely to have higher levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone—the hormone produced by the pituitary gland to tell the thyroid gland to increase production—than women who were unable to conceive due to issues with their partner's sperm count. Though scientists are still exploring the link between hypothyroidism and infertility, it is believed that the absence of adequate thyroid hormones in the body impairs ovulation.

A Bad Thyroid Can Make You a Bad Driver

Whether you know it or not, every aspect of your health has an impact on your ability to drive, and your thyroid health is no exception. According to research from the University of Kentucky and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, having insufficient thyroid hormone levels can cause impaired driving not unlike driving under the influence. Yikes! And because your health is so important, make sure you read up on the 40 Healthy Habits Everyone Should Adopt By 40.

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