Hypothyroidism Induces Antioxidant Depletion

Sunday, March 04, 2012
By: Byron J. Richards,
Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
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Those with hypothyroidism have significantly increased free radical production, a problem that is further magnified if cholesterol is also elevated.  This means that individuals with inefficient metabolisms should take higher levels of antioxidants to protect against problems occurring as part of the hypothyroid issue. 

When you cellular engines are clicking along in good condition, they are only five percent inefficient.  This is the price we pay for having more energy producing capability than any other mammal.  In other words, as you make energy you make some free radicals, which are then hopefully neutralized by your antioxidant defense system.

As a person slides into a situation of fatigue or inability to produce energy optimally, then there is less energy made along with a corresponding increase in free radicals.  For example, when you exercise and you “step on the gas pedal to go faster,” you naturally make more free radicals and thus need more antioxidants.  However, if you are overweight, which reflects cellular energy problems, you need even more antioxidants to exercise because you will make more free radicals due to the underlying inefficiency in your system.

In the new study with hypothyroid patients it was clearly shown that their antioxidant enzyme systems of their bodies were working overtime trying to keep up with the excessive production of free radicals induced by their hypothyroid situation of metabolic inefficiency.  The problem was even worse if the person also had elevated cholesterol.  This means free radicals would be more likely to damage cholesterol and lead to plaque accumulation in the arteries.  Many studies link poor thyroid function to increased risk of cardiovascular disease.  A lack of antioxidants in such individuals is clearly part of the problem.

Fresh fruits, vegetables, wholes grains, and nuts are the primary sources of dietary antioxidants.  Many dietary supplements have antioxidant capabilities; specific combinations of supplements are designed to boost the functionality of core antioxidant enzyme systems in your body. 

An important principle of health is to have a wide range of antioxidant substances in your diet and supplements to provide broad based, synergistic support of antioxidants for your system.  Think of it as a true health savings account.  This is especially important if you have any problems with your energy level, which is a key indicator of metabolic inefficiency that reflects increased oxidative stress that can lead to health decline.

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