January is Thyroid Awareness Month

January is

Cervical Health Awareness Month, Glaucoma Awareness Month, National Birth Defects Prevention Month, National Blood Donor Month, and Thyroid Awareness Month.

Today's focus is the thyroid.

The thyroid gland is located in the front of the neck, below the larynx (voice box). The thyroid helps to regulate calcium in your body, as well as your metabolism. Though very small, this gland carries a great deal of responsibility.

The thyroid manufactures the hormones that help control metabolism and growth. It is, therefore, quite important for teenagers with their growing bodies. The thyroid requires an element called iodine that the body absorbs from the food and water we consume. The body contains about 50 milligrams of iodine; of that amount, about 1/5 to 1/3 of it is stored in the thyroid. [Kidshealth.org] The thyroid combines the iodine with an essential amino acid, called tyrosine, to make important hormones [A hormone is a regulatory substance that is transported in tissue fluids, such as blood or sap, to stimulate specific cells or tissues into action].

Thyroid hormones are released from the gland, traveling through the bloodstream to the cells of the body. They help the cells to convert oxygen and calories into the energy they need to work properly and also help control the growth and the structure of bones, and sexual development, and many other body functions. Thyroid hormones also directly affect how most of our organs function, so if the thyroid isn’t operating properly, problems can develop in many areas of the body, affecting every facet of your health.

Most people know that the thyroid can cause weight problems (over and under

weight) but they do not know that there is also the risk for heart disease, sexual dysfunction, infertility, depression, and hair loss, to name just a few problems.

About.com lists 10 signs of a thyroid problem: http://thyroid.about.com/cs/basics_starthere/a/10signs.htm

Talk to your doctor if you have a concern about your thyroid or if you have problems with low weight or too much weight, or any of the concerns listed above.

Sources:

University of Maryland Medical Center, Thyroid Gland | University of Maryland Medical Center http://umm.edu/programs/diabetes/health/endocrinology-health-guide/thyroid-gland#ixzz2r4SjMy7f

About.com: http://thyroid.about.com/cs/basics_starthere/a/10signs.htm

KidsHealth.org: http://kidshealth.org/teen/diseases_conditions/growth/thyroid.html

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