The thyroid is a gland located in front of the neck, below the larynx. It weighs less than an ounce and is comprised of halves known as lobes, which are connected together by a narrow band of tissue called the isthmus.
The thyroid gland produces the thyroid hormones known as triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). To produce these two hormones, the gland combines iodine, obtained from one’s diet,and the amino acid tyrosine.
T3 and T4 hormones are released into the bloodstream to be transported into different parts of the body. These hormones influences how the brain develops during childhood, and they also serve an important role in regulating metabolism during adulthood.
Is there anything thyroid hormones can’t do? Well, they can’t cross the cell membrane, so they need specific hormone receptors to trigger a reaction within the cell and start the production of several important proteins.
With these proteins, the cells can undergo a variety of reactions including cell reproduction, antioxidant production, insulin secretion, and promoting insulin sensitivity. Due to these, thyroid hormones are crucial in maintaining healthy function of the digestive, nervous, muscular, and circulatory systems.
Another function of these hormones is the regulation of the mitochondria. It does this by controlling how much oxygen the mitochondria consumes, which is a vital step in ATP production.
Since the mitochondria is the primary producer of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), thyroid hormones play a crucial role in making sure cells get the energy they need for various physiological functions.
The thyroid gland is regulated by the pituitary gland. The latter, which is actually peanut-sized, is found at the base of the brain and produces thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).
TSH is produced when the pituitary gland detects that the T3 and T4 hormones in the bloodstream are too low. And when these hormones are too abundant, the pituitary gland stops TSH production.
Aside from detecting thyroid hormones in the blood, the pituitary gland also receives input from the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus determines the necessary levels of thyroid hormones based on the various needs of cells in different parts of the body.
The hypothalamus and the pituitary gland play a very active role in regulating the thyroid. Having too little or too much of the thyroid hormones can be harmful.
Gaining weight, feeling cold (even though it actually isn’t), and having dry skin are signs that your thyroid might be underactive. This state is called hypothyroidism.
On the other hand, if you’re experiencing weight loss, high heart rate, hot flashes, and high anxiety, your thyroid might be producing too much thyroid hormone. In this case, you might have hyperthyroidism.
Keeping your thyroid healthy is important as it has immense overall benefits to your health. With lower levels of thyroid hormone, luteinizing hormone (LH) levels are decreased, which results to decreased testosterone production.
This relation also goes the other way around, meaning low testosterone can result to low thyroid gland activity. And so, when any of these hormones aren’t kept at optimal levels, various risks to male health will arise.