Thyroid Hormones and Aging
The Thyroid is a gland that is located in the neck just behind the Adams Apple. It is responsible for producing two thyroid hormones – T3 and T4.
These hormones are essential for cellular metabolism. In other words, they are responsible for initiating and maintaining your cells’ ability to turn nutrients into energy.
People with low levels of thyroid hormones have slower metabolisms. Which leads to the associated problems, most noticeably chronic fatigue and weight gain.
Many of the conditions normally associated with aging, can actually be caused by low levels of thyroid hormones.
What Happens to the Thyroid as we Age?
The endocrine system, and particularly the endocrine glands such as the thyroid, undergoes many significant changes as you age. It has been well-documented in the medical literature that the incidences of thyroid disorders increases with age. We also see many physical changes occurring to the thyroid gland itself as you get older that lower production of thyroid hormones.
Lower than normal levels of thyroid hormones can lead to the following:
- Thinning hair
- Weight gain
- Changes in menstrual flow for women
- Muscle aches
- Higher sensitivity to cold
If a younger person is experiencing these kinds of symptoms, doctors usually suspect there could be a problem such as hypothyroidism, or in some cases, a less severe form of Thyroid Deficiency Syndrome.
However, doctors who do not specialize in age-management, often miss age-related Thyroid Deficiency Syndrome, because the typical list of symptoms, closely mirrors the common “complaints” of aging.
Conventional doctors are good at what they do, and no slam against them, however, as an age management physician, I know that often times the best diagnostician is you! You know when your body just doesn’t feel right, and most of the time it is trying to tell you something.
Are you feeling tired? Depressed? Have you lost interest in sex, do you say you are freezing when everyone else in the room is cold? Are you putting on weight? What else is bothering you that you just accept as growing old?
Don’t accept it! Listen to what your body is trying to tell you — it might be saying your thyroid tanks are running on empty!
Thyroid Hormone Therapy and Anti-Aging
The goal of thyroid hormone replacement therapy for age-related thyroid deficiency is to make up for the lack of thyroid hormones normally secreted by your thyroid gland. In most cases, thyroid replacement therapy involves taking a daily dose of T4, usually in pill form.
Though synthetic T4 supplements are most often prescribed for thyroid hormone replacement therapy, there are a variety of forms available, including animal thyroid supplements, and glandular extracts.
Who Should Consider Thyroid Replacement Therapy?
Thyroid therapy is a very individualized treatment process. When prescribed properly, it can be very effective in treating the symptoms of low thyroid hormones, or age-related thyroid deficiency.
Which is all the more reason why anyone over 40, particularly women over 60, who are experiencing symptoms that may be related to low levels of thyroid hormones – fatigue, weight gain, sensitivity to cold, cognitive difficulties – seek the advice of qualified medical professionals who are experienced with the symptoms of age-related thyroid deficiency and the proper administration of Thyroid Replacement Therapies.
Only through proper analysis and diagnostics, can doctors get at the root of your aging issues, and then prescribe the most effective treatments for your individual needs and lifestyle, which may, or may not, include Thyroid Replacement Therapies.
Do you think declining hormone levels contribute to aging, or is it something else?
Have you, or has someone you know benefited from hormone therapy? Please use the comment box to tell us about it. Even if you had a bad experience with hormone replacement, share in the conversation, we want to hear from you!