Thyroid and Kidney Problems Overlap

Friday, November 16, 2012
By: Byron J. Richards,
Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

A considerable body of science now links thyroid problems and kidney problems1 in a “chicken and egg” manner. To maintain good health it is vital to nip both in the early phases, as the more progressive the issues the more difficult they are to correct.

Many people are familiar with the symptoms of a sluggish thyroid – coldness, sluggish mental function, poor muscle function, dry skin, constipation, etc.

Kidney problems go hand-in-glove with adrenal problems and stress intolerance. Initial phases of these problems include slight elevation in blood pressure, poor sex drive and/or function, low salt in the blood (electrolyte imbalance), elevated creatinine, and loss of proteins in the urine. The loss of protein in the urine also includes the loss of thyroid hormones, inducing stress to the functional thyroid system.

Leptin resistance sits right in the middle of both kidney, and thyroid problems – a health issue I call adrenaline resistance and describe fully in my book, Mastering Leptin. Leptin resistance causes thyroid function to slow down while simultaneously increases adrenaline that bangs into the kidneys and begins to raise blood pressure. At the same time leptin problems lower testosterone, causing a drop in sex drive—in either sex—and a loss of sexual function in men.

Thyroid hormones control the rate at which your kidneys can do their filtration work. Thus, if thyroid function is impaired, kidney function is similarly impaired. Thyroid hormones are involved in the development and growth of the kidneys, especially in the womb. Leptin and thyroid problems during pregnancy result in less than optimal kidney development in the child, setting the stage for life-long thyroid and kidney struggles. The kidneys also activate thyroid hormone, converting T4 to T3, though your liver is the main organ that performs this function.

It is now very clear that a progression of thyroid and kidney problems lead directly to cardiovascular problems that are very difficult to manage, including poor blood pressure control. Chief nutrients that help the kidneys are antioxidants such as Q10, silymarin, grape seed extract, and r-alpha lipoic acid. Minerals such as magnesium and potassium are also needed for healthy kidney function. More advanced kidney distress may call for higher amounts of nutritional anti-inflammatories like quercetin, bromelain, and curcumin; antioxidants like NAC, vitamin C, and carotenes; and buffering compounds like glutamine.

Improving kidney function will help improve thyroid function and vice versa, and such improvements will invariably support improved cardiovascular health. Do what you can to reverse small problems before they develop into larger ones. Know your symptoms and know your remedies.


Referenced Studies:
  1. ^ The Relationship of Thyroid and Kidney Health Issues  Eur J Endocrinol.  Iglesias P & Díez JJ.

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