Thyroid gland

We are a hormone factory With These molecules, created by the various glands that make up the human endocrine system, travel through the blood, changing the physiology and anatomy of every organ and tissue in our body, from the heart to the brain, passing through the vessels of blood, lungs, skin or intestines.

These hormones, which act as chemical messengers, are responsible for the precise regulation of each of the bodily processes that allow us to communicate with the outside world and respond appropriately to stimuli, keeping our physiology stable and allowing us to to develop all vital functions.

But to guarantee this, hormones must be in the right amount and produced only when they are needed. And this is done by the endocrine glands. One of the most important, due to the role played by the hormones it synthesizes, is the thyroid gland.

In today’s article we will review both the anatomy of the thyroid gland and the functions it performs. in the body, as well as the pathologies we can suffer when its activity is disrupted.

What is the endocrine system?

Before analyzing this gland, we need to understand what the human endocrine system is and what your role is in it. In general, the endocrine system is the group of organs that specialize in the synthesis and release of hormones, molecules that, as we have said, travel through the blood by regulating the activity of target organs and tissues.

Each of these organs is the endocrine glands, structures located in different parts of the body that are connected to the bloodstream at the moment they receive the command from the brain, produce hormones and release them into the circulation.

Each gland specializes in the production of specific hormones that coordinate, modify and regulate the physiology of the whole organism. Without them, we can not relate to the environment or ourselves. And it is the hormones that determine how our body functions, what emotions we experience and how we react to stimuli. If our body were a car, the brain would be the driver, but the hormones, the steering wheel.

There are a total of 9 endocrine glands in the human body, which share the production of 65 major types of hormones. All of these glands need to be in good health, because when they have problems with hormone synthesis (whether they are synthesized more or less properly), potentially serious diseases can develop.

And of these glands, one of the most important is definitely the thyroid With This gland specializes in the synthesis of hormones T4 and T3, which have, as we will see later, a great importance in regulating our physiology.

What is the thyroid gland?

The thyroid gland is a structure of about 5 centimeters and weighs only 30 grams, which, being located in the neck, has a fundamental role not only within the endocrine system, but for maintaining an accurate state of general health.

Its main function is to synthesize thyroid hormones, which are essentially thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones have a major impact on what is known as the metabolic rate, which, in other words, means that they determine the rate at which metabolic processes occur in our body.

And is that these hormones produced by the thyroid gland, in addition to regulating the amount of oxygen used by cells, they also coordinate the production of protein by them With And at the moment in which you have control of oxygen and protein, you have control of the activity of the organ and tissue in question.

A healthy thyroid, that is, one that produces thyroid hormones when needed and in the right amounts, regulates the metabolism of the whole body. This means that it makes us have high energy levels during the day (and low at night), allows proper development and growth of the body, stimulates fat burning, helps assimilate essential nutrients, regulates our biological clock, maintains healthy skin., Promotes proper health of the nervous system, etc.

Therefore, when, generally due to disorders of genetic origin, the thyroid is not well regulated, endocrine diseases may develop known as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. The first arises when less thyroid hormones are produced than needed (metabolism slows down) and the second, when more than necessary is produced (metabolism accelerates too much).

Despite their differences, these two disorders of the thyroid gland make the body unable to regulate itself at a metabolic level, leading to weight management problems, sleep disturbances, difficulties in developing good muscle strength and problems with blood cholesterol. This shows the great importance of the thyroid gland and all the functions that, when it is healthy, it performs in the body.

10 functions of the thyroid gland

As we have said, the function of the thyroid gland can be summarized as regulating the metabolism of the whole body, that is, coordinating the way of balancing energy and material consumption with But from this derive very important functions that we will analyze individually below and performed from thyroxine and triiodothyronine. the two main thyroid hormones.

1. Keep energy levels high throughout the day

One of the main functions of the thyroid hormones and, therefore, of the thyroid gland itself, is to speed up the metabolism when it is day, thus achieving the cells to increase their activity and that all the organs and tissues to be more rich. In this way, the thyroid gland condenses the body’s forces during the day, which is when we really need them.

2. Lower energy levels at night

Why do we sleep when it is night? Partly thanks to the thyroid gland With And is that it reduces its activity when night comes, so the metabolism slows down, the cells are less active and we feel more tired. In this way, the thyroid gland ensures that it reserves the body’s energy for the next day and that we are able to fall asleep. This explains that people with hyperthyroidism often have trouble falling asleep.

3. Adjust body temperature

One of the main functions of thyroid hormones is to regulate body temperature, keeping it stable despite external conditions. This explains why people with hypothyroidism (low glandular activity) are more sensitive to cold and those with hyperthyroidism (overactive glandular activity) are more sensitive to heat.

4. Promote the development of the nervous system

It goes without saying how important it is to keep the nervous system healthy, as it is the one that controls our whole body. In this sense, thyroid hormones are essential for promoting its proper development, even at the level of the brain. This explains why thyroid disorders are also involved in the problems of nervousness, irritability, anxiety, tremors and even memory deficits or depression.

5. Keep skin healthy

The skin is another organ of our body and, as such, should be in good health. Thyroid hormones are one of the molecules with a more important role in promoting the regeneration and hydration of dermis cells.

6. Assist in the assimilation of essential nutrients

The thyroid gland is also essential at the level of digestion. And is that these hormones, in addition to regulating the sensation of appetite, are also very important in the intestines as they stimulate the activity of cells responsible for the absorption of nutrients, minerals and vitamins, which, undoubtedly, are essential for the health of the whole body.

7. Check the biological clock

In relation to the first two points, the thyroid gland is responsible for regulating our circulatory rhythm, i.e. our biological clock. It is these hormones that determine our waking and sleeping cycles, ensuring that we stay active during the day, but that at a certain time we have sleep, thus guaranteeing a proper rejuvenation and repair of the body.

8. Maintain an accurate body weight

Thyroid hormones, when in the right amount, stimulate the proper burning of fats With Therefore, people with disorders in it, have problems with body weight control. Hypothyroidism, not having enough hormones, is associated with overweight; while hyperthyroidism, burning more fat than necessary, is associated with weight loss.

9. Keep your muscles strong

The thyroid gland is also very important for muscle health. And it is that the glands it synthesizes act at the muscle level by increasing their activity when needed, but also promote the repair and regeneration of muscle fibers.

10. Regulate blood cholesterol levels

The thyroid gland is also very important for cardiovascular health. And it is that thyroid hormones regulate blood cholesterol levels, keeping it in the right amount (neither too high nor too low). This explains why people with hypothyroidism, despite following a healthy diet, usually have problems with high cholesterol

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