January is Thyroid Awareness Month. Perfect timing to refocus on your thyroid health. And to start us off this year, I want to get back to basics.
The first of the basics is to KNOW YOUR NUMBERS. When last did you have your thyroid labs done? If it was a few months ago, I recommend that you start this year by getting your full thyroid panel labs done.
Full Thyroid Blood Labs
When last did you have a full thyroid panel blood labs done? If you have done it longer than 6 months ago, I recommend that you start this year by doing a full set of thyroid labs. The tests you should get done are the following:
- Total and Free T4 (more important is the Free T4)
- Total and Free T3 (more important is the Free T3)
- T3 Uptake
- Thyroid antibodies (which include both TG antibodies and TPO antibodies)
- Reverse T3 (if you had surgery recently, trauma or severe stress it can be helpful to have this test done).
It does not help to do just TSH and T4 blood tests. It does not give you the full picture of what could be going on in your body. Your TSH and T4 could be fine, but you could be struggling with low T3 due to poor conversion, or high antibodies which are causing your symptoms. There are many different patterns of hypothyroidism and you can only know if you have one of them if you have all the pieces of the puzzle.
Iron is a dealbreaker
Anemia is a deal breaker when it comes to thyroid health. According to Dr. Datis Kharriazian (1), anemia often shows in patients with Hashimoto’s and gluten intolerance.
Anemia literally starves your body of oxygen, and you will feel tired and cold. The most common form of anemia (2) is iron-deficiency anemia. When your body doesn’t have enough iron, your body cannot make enough hemoglobin (the substance in your red blood cells that enables them to carry oxygen).
Checking for an iron deficiency is important before you start supplementing with iron, as too much iron in your body can also be detrimental to your health. Checking your iron levels also includes to parts: first, checking the amount of iron in your blood, and second, checking the amount of iron in storage (by checking ferritin levels).
I would therefore recommend, especially if you haven’t tested for iron deficiency before, that you also check your iron levels and check for anemia:
– CBC (Complete blood count)
– Iron and ferritin levels
Know your numbers to know your next steps
Once you know what your numbers are, you are in a much better position to determine what your next steps should be in your plan of action.
So, start by getting the picture of what is going on. Next week, we’ll discuss more on what these results mean once you have the results.
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