Seaweed has more natural iodine than most foods, which makes it ideal for balancing thyroid health, and adds a layer of protection against thyroid disease. It can also relieve thyroid symptoms that point to low (if not actually underactive) thyroid, typically involving fatigue, muscle weakness, and elevated cholesterol.

The thyroid utilizes iodine to help develop and maintain functions of major body organs, including the brain, pancreas, stomach, skin, as well as spinal fluids and salivary glands.

Hyperthyroidism: Overactive Thyroid

An overactive thyroid, often referred to as hyperthyroidism, makes too much of the thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Too much T3 hormone speeds up the body’s metabolism to dangerous rates and can lead to rapid heartbeat, tremors, excessive sweating, and not surprisingly, anxiety. People with hyperthyroidism often lose weight, sometimes rapidly, and have problems with sleep, as well.

Here are the three most common causes of hyperthyroidism:

  1. Graves Disease, an autoimmune disorder, is responsible for 70% of hyperthyroidism cases. It’s often hereditary and affects women more often than men. Many women learn they have Graves Disease when they are unable to become pregnant.
  2. Viruses or other problems with the immune system can cause thyroiditis, an inflammation of the thyroid gland that temporarily causes the thyroid to produce the additional hormone.
  3. Toxic nodules, or lumps in the thyroid, can trigger excessive hormone production.

Some women develop hyperthyroidism during pregnancy or in the first year following childbirth. Postpartum thyroiditis is rare and thought to be caused by an autoimmune flare-up. It begins one to four months after delivery and generally lasts up to three months. In some cases, it may last and cause a long term, underactive thyroid.Excess iodine in the diet from foods, supplements, or medication may trigger symptoms of hyperthyroidism, but don’t cause the actual condition. Reducing iodine intake will ease these symptoms.

Hyperthyroid symptoms show gradually, so it’s difficult to recognize it early on. Left untreated, it starts to break down the body energy and patients tire easily–a marked change from the excess energy many experience earlier in the disease state. Patients notice that their arm and leg muscles become weaker, their skin becomes thinner, and their hair may become more brittle.

Hyperthyroidism is less common than hypothyroidism, where the thyroid lacks T3 and T4 hormones.

Hypothyroidism with Hashimoto’s Disease

Low thyroid function, or hypothyroidism, occurs when the thyroid produces too little of the thyroid hormones and slows metabolism.

Ironically, past public health campaigns warning against excess salt in the diet may be a contributing factor to the higher incidence of hypothyroidism. Table salt has traditionally been believed to be the major dietary source for iodine, however most table salts are processed into iodide, which has little or no true iodine value to the body or Thyroid. But, excess salt usually comes from processed foods, not from meals prepared from whole foods. However, encouraging “no salt” diets with little explanation about where extra salt comes from, has lowered the normal amounts of iodine in many people, leaving them with unrecognized iodine deficiency and an underactive thyroid.

However, an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s is the leading cause for underactive thyroid. It’s often seen with other autoimmune diseases, such as Addison’s Disease, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. People with Type 1 diabetes are also at risk for hypothyroidism.

Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism share the same symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Memory problems
  • Weight gain

Hashimoto’s is diagnosed by a blood test for specific antibodies, while non-Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism is diagnosed by testing the level of T4 hormone. Very often, non-Hashimoto’s patients have low iodine levels as well.

Not all Hashimoto’s patients show a hormone deficiency all the time, and sometimes not at all. Hormone changes seem to occur as the disease progresses. Newer tests that measure the activity of thyroid-stimulating hormones allow doctors to diagnose Hashimoto’s before more severe symptoms emerge.

Here are the best-known causes for non-Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism:

  • Congenital diseases; some infants are born with a defective thyroid or none at all
  • Iodine deficiency
  • Medications, including lithium
  • Overreaction to medications for hyperthyroidism
  • Pituitary gland disorder
  • Pregnancy
  • Radiation treatment for other conditions
  • Thyroid surgery

Hashimoto’s patients with low thyroid hormones and non-Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism are treated with prescriptive hormone replacement medications.

Seaweed Provides Real, Natural, Vegetable Iodine

Seaweed can help people whose thyroids function on the low side of the normal range because it provides real, natural vegetable iodine, the substance that drives the thyroid, and that the thyroid craves. It’s important to not overdo it. For most people, a weekly seaweed salad or balanced supplement from a reputable manufacturer will ease many thyroid symptoms that express a low-normal functioning thyroid.

Many pregnancy symptoms that are considered normal, like dry, brittle skin and hair, may be due to a lowered iodine level. They can be relieved with a weekly seaweed salad, balanced seaweed supplement or weekly vegetarian sushi lunch.Pregnant women who have low thyroid symptoms are at risk for developing hypothyroidism if they become iodine-deficient. This is a real possibility since they are providing iodine for the developing fetus as well. If the fetus receives an insufficient amount of iodine to support its own developing thyroid, it may have future problems related to attention, language, and motor skills development.

Is your body lacking iodine? Did you know that seaweed has high iodine content that is needed for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland? Try Sea Veg® whole food seaweed supplements made from the finest, organic ingredients to discover many life-changing benefits. Reach out to us if you have more questions about Sea Veg® products, our team is always happy to help!