The thyroid gland, which is located below the Adam’s apple in the front of the neck, plays an important role in the endocrine system. It works with the pituitary gland, which is located at the bottom of the brain, to produce, release, and regulate hormones known as thyroid hormones.
The two main hormones produced by the thyroid gland are thyroxine (also known as T4, the prohormone) and triiodothyronine (also known as T3, the active hormone). The thyroid gland mostly produces T4, while specific enzymes in the body convert T4 into the active T3.
The thyroid gland is responsible for a wide range of functions in the body, including regulating the body’s metabolism, body temperature, heart rate, breathing, and weight. With that said, not enough thyroid hormone caused by hypothyroidism can lead to a variety of health concerns.
So, what is hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is when you have an underactive thyroid that doesn’t produce enough thyroxine (T4). It is one of the major reasons why people experience unintentional weight gain because it decreases your body’s metabolism. If not treated properly, hypothyroidism can grow worse.
Some of the most common symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, cold sensitivity, weight gain, dry skin, weak muscles, thinning hair, constipation, high blood cholesterol levels, muscle aches, slowed heart rate, mood changes, depression, impaired memory, and much more.
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Since the symptoms generally develop slowly over time, you may not notice them at first. As your metabolism continues to slow, the symptoms become more obvious. Hypothyroidism shouldn’t be confused with hyperthyroidism, which is an overactive thyroid that produces too much thyroxine.
How Does an Underactive Thyroid Gland Impact Energy Levels?
Most patients with an underactive thyroid gland are likely to experience fatigue, making it a common symptom of hypothyroidism. This can make you feel tired, despite eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep. As you can likely imagine, this can deplete your quality of life quickly.
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why hypothyroidism causes fatigue in some individuals:
- It results in several hormonal changes that make fatigue worse
- Not enough thyroid hormone slows your metabolism down and halts the mitochondrial function
- If hypothyroidism is caused by an autoimmune disorder, the increased inflammation can wear you down
- Hypothyroidism can cause nutrient deficiencies, such as Vitamin B12, which can lower energy levels
If you’re experiencing hypothyroid fatigue, it’s very important that your doctor detect it in its early stages. Once detected, they must determine the root cause of it and how it’s affecting the body. This helps them find the right treatment moving forward so they can reverse the symptoms.
How to Reverse Hypothyroid Fatigue
Reversing hypothyroid fatigue is often easier said than done. It might seem that increasing thyroid hormones in the body would do the trick and while that’s part of the solution, it often doesn’t reverse all the other issues it causes in the body — such as a decrease in energy levels.
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Don’t worry, we’re going to detail nine different ways you can increase your energy levels after experiencing hypothyroidism:
Reduce Adrenal and Cortisol Levels
A high level of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and a low level of thyroxine are some of the many biomarkers of hypothyroidism. Since cortisol levels tend to increase as TSH increases — and too much cortisol can worsen your fatigue symptoms — you should work with a functional medicine doctor who understands how to reduce cortisol levels.
Regulate Iron and Ferritin Levels
Iron is a necessary nutrient in the energy production process and ferritin is a protein that stores iron. In addition to that, iron is necessary for proper thyroid hormone production. Since an underactive thyroid can lead to an iron deficiency, you should increase your iron consumption.
Increase Vitamin B12 Levels
Vitamin B12 is another nutrient that’s heavily involved in the energy production process at the mitochondrial level. And while most people turn to oral and sublingual Vitamin B12 medication, I recommend taking Vitamin B12 shots to enhance absorption and bypass the digestive system.
How Functional Medicine Approaches Thyroid Problems
Some patients might need a T4-only medication, some might need a T3-only medication, and some might need medication with both T4 and T3. Ensuring you’re on the right thyroid medication is essential to reversing your hypothyroid fatigue instead of making it worse.
Reduce Caffeine Intake
When most people are fatigued, they immediately turn to caffeine and other stimulants. After all, they’re designed to give you that energy boost you need. Unfortunately, caffeine only does more harm than good for hypothyroid patients and weakens the system you’re trying to strengthen.
Ensure You’re Getting Enough Sleep
Thyroid hormones are involved in REM and non-REM sleep. If you don’t get enough sleep or are getting a low quality of sleep, it can impact your body’s ability to produce and utilize thyroid hormone. To reduce this, make sure you’re focused on getting 8 hours of quality sleep each night.
Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Sugar and carbs are the body’s main source of energy, so it might make sense to eat more of these nutrients in your daily diet — but not so fast. High levels of sugar will cause insulin levels to increase, which can lead to weight gain. Instead, focus more on adding healthy fats to your diet.
Stay Dedicated to Stress Management
Whether you want to believe it or not, stress will always lead to fatigue. It wears us down, it tires us out, and it leads to a wide range of other health concerns. If you want to reduce hypothyroid fatigue, you should focus on reducing stress levels and relaxing your mind when times are rough.
Take a B-Complex Supplement
We already mentioned the importance of Vitamin B12 to the energy production process, but it’s not the only B-Vitamin involved in this process. In fact, Vitamins B2, B3, B5, and B6 are all crucial to energy production and help the body break down food for energy.
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Contact Dr. Hagmeyer Today!
If you believe you’re suffering from hypothyroidism and are experiencing high levels of fatigue on a daily basis, contact me today. I can help you find the source of your problem and determine the right solution to fix it moving forward. Before you know it, you’ll have your energy levels back!
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