“Get to Know” Your Thyroid

Your thyroid gland is small. It normally weighs less than one ounce, and is located in the front of the neck below your “Adam’s apple” or larynx. During gestation, they thyroid gland originates in the back of the tongue, but migrates to its said position before birth. There are rare occurrences when the thyroid is located high in the neck, in the back of the tongue (lingual thyroid), or even the chest. It is made of two halves called lobes that lay along the windpipe (trachea) and are joined together by a narrow band of thyroid tissue known as the isthmus.

The function of the thyroid gland is to take iodine, found in many foods, and convert it into thyroid hormones: Thyroxine (T4) and Triiodothyronine (T3). Thyroid cells are the only cells in the body that can absorb iodine. These cells combine iodine and the amino acid tyrosine to make T3 and T4. T3 and T4 are then released into the bloodstream and are transported throughout the body where they control metabolism (conversion of oxygen and calories to energy). Every cell in the body depends upon thyroid hormones for regulation of their metabolism. The normal thyroid gland produces about 80% T4 and about 20% T3, however, T3 possesses about four times the hormone “strength” as T4.

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