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What Is The Thyroid Gland?

The Thyroid Gland


Our endocrine system is a group of glands in our body that secrete hormones internally -using the bloodstream- that regulate bodily functions such as metabolism, growth and reproduction. Every cell in the body depends upon thyroid hormones for regulation of their metabolism.

The thyroid gland is the largest gland in the endocrine system, normally weighing less than one ounce (28 grams). It is a butterfly-shaped organ that is located at the base of the neck, wrapped around the lateral sides of the trachea (windpipe) just below the Adam’s apple in men. It is made up of two halves, called lobes that are joined together by a narrow band of thyroid tissue known as the isthmus.


What does the thyroid gland do?

KETO Thyroid systemEvery cell in our body has thyroid hormone receptors. The duty of the thyroid gland is to take iodine (a trace mineral found in many foods) and tyrosine (an amino acid) as building blocks, and convert these into thyroid hormones.

The three thyroid hormones are:

  • Thyroxine (T4),
  • Triiodothyronine (T3), and
  • Calcitonin

About T4 and T3 hormones:

  • play a significant role in the energy regulation of our body,
  • increase our cellular activity in almost every kind of cell in our body,
  • regulate our metabolic organ processes.
  • T4 and T3 are made in the thyroid gland using iodine.
  • Thyroid cells are the only cells in the body which can absorb iodine.
  • Every cell in the body depends upon thyroid hormones for regulation of their metabolism (conversion of oxygen and calories to energy, burning of calories from food).
  • If there is too much or too little thyroid hormone in our body, our entire metabolism is impacted.
  • Thyroid cells combine iodine and the amino-acid tyrosine to make T3 and T4.
  • T3 and T4 are released into the blood stream and are transported throughout the body.
  • T3 has three molecules of iodine while T4 has four.
  • The thyroid gland produces about 80% T4 and about 20% T3.
  • T3 possesses about four times the “hormone strength” as T4.
  • Most of the T4 and T3 circulates in the blood bound to protein, while a small percentage is free (not bound).
  • Blood tests can measure total (unbound plus bound) T4, free T4, total T3 (bound plus unbound), and free T3.


Pituitary Gland and Hypothalamus

Keto - TRH producing Pituitary gland for thyroid hormon productionPituitary gland is the main endocrine gland. It is a small structure the size of a peanut located at the base of the brain. It is called the “master gland” because it produces hormones that control other glands and many body functions including growth.

The thyroid gland is under the control of the pituitary gland, another one of the endocrine system glands. When the level of thyroid hormones (T3 & T4) drops too low, the pituitary gland produces “Thyroid Stimulating Hormone” (TSH) which stimulates the thyroid gland to produce more hormones. Under the influence of TSH, the thyroid manufactures and secretes T3 and T4, thereby raising their levels in the blood stream.

The pituitary gland itself is regulated by another gland, known as the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is part of the brain and produces “TSH Releasing Hormone” (TRH) which tells the pituitary gland to stimulate the thyroid gland (by releasing TSH).

One can imagine the thyroid gland as a furnace, the pituitary gland as the thermostat, hypothalamus as the person who sets the thermostat.


 Exocrine System Glands

keto Endocrine systemThe exocrine system in contrast to the endocrine system is a group of specialized cells that release hormones externally to the body’s cavities, organs, or surface through ducts.

The exocrine secretions are involved in many important functions, such as …

  • sweating,
  • digestion, and
  • lubricating the eyes.

The major exocrine glands include …

  • the salivary glands,
  • liver,
  • stomach,
  • prostate,
  • lacrimal glands,
  • pancreas,
  • sweat glands,
  • sebaceous glands, and
  • mammary glands.


Diseases of the thyroid
  • Thyroid disease is extremely common.
  • According to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, 27 million Americans have an over or underactive thyroid gland.
  • Thyroid disease is much more common in women – 8 in 10 thyroid patients are female.
  • Thyroid disease is also strongly linked to diabetes.
Things that can go wrong with the thyroid gland mostly fall into three categories:
  • Underactivity or Hypothyroidism –when the body makes too little of the thyroid hormones.
  • Overactivity or Hyperthyroidism – when the body makes too many of the thyroid hormones.
  • Growths – this can include benign cysts, nodules or cancers of the thyroid gland.



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