Hormones and health.
If you are otherwise healthy, your hormones can affect your quality of life.
Energy and metabolic rate:
In all of your cells, there are sub-bodies called mitochondria. These have their own DNA, arranged in ring structures, which is also found in bacterial. Mitochondria seem to be bacterial that were co-opted into more complex cellular life. Mitochondria produce ATP, the universal currency of cellular energy.
Mitochondria consume lipids [fats] and sugars from your blood stream. The level of activity of the mitochondria [metabolic rate] determines your energy levels and body temperature. When mitochondria slow down, energy levels and body temperatures drop.
When more complex cells and mitochondria entered into their synergistic/symbiotic arrangement, the cells stopped producing their own ATP and mitochondria stopped making their own CoQ10 of whatever fulfilled that roll. Mitochondria cannot work without CoQ10.
CoQ10 is produced in the liver by enzyme pathways that also product cholesterol. Cholesterol is not bad, you cannot live without it. When cholesterol levels are too high and you take a statin drug to reduced cholesterol, you also reduce CoQ10 to some extent. For some individuals, CoQ10 can be reduce too much; then mitochondrial slow down and muscle weakness/pain can result. This can affect muscles that are used a lot --> the heart. Weakness in the hearts left ventricle can reduce blood pumped to the body and blood pools in the lungs with high blood pressure there. Then fluid leaks into the lungs and one gets a persistent cough. That is the same mechanistic description of outcomes of congestive heart failure. In this situation, the problem can be resolved by taking CoQ10 supplements. The Ubiquinol form of CoQ10 should be used as it is much more absorbable. Unfortunately, Ubiquinol is a bit expensive.
Your body temperature is regulated by the T3 thyroid hormone, specifically fT3 [free T3], not bound to thyroid binding globulin [a protein structure in your blood]. If fT3 levels are low, or fT3 cannot activate thyroid receptors, body temperature drops and mitochondria do not feed on sugars and fats at the same rate. The whole body and brain slows down and one can become fat and/or not able to loose fat.
Effective fT3 levels can drop from reduced thyroid gland output or a deviation of T3 that is shaped differently, rT3 [reverse T3] can block fT3 from activation of thyroid receptors.
The thyroid gland produces T3 and T4 hormones that incorporate 3 and 4 iodine atoms respectively. Thyroid Stimulation Hormone [TSH] is released by the pituitary gland to regulate the level of activity in the thyroid gland. This is how body temperatures are normally regulated. If there is not enough iodine in your diet, TSH levels climb to compensate. If one is iodine deficient, TSH levels will increase. High levels of TSH can damage the thyroid over time.
fT3 regulates mitochondrial metabolic rate affecting body temperature and overall energy levels. This does not work properly if CoQ10 is not sufficient.
Production of thyroid hormones in the thyroid gland produces free radicals that can damage the thyroid at a cellular level. The resulting inflammation can signal the immune system to attack the thyroid and you have an autoimmune disease. Enzyme processes normally clean up the free radicals and there is no problem. However, that process depends on adequate dietary selenium. Selenium is mission critical for healthy thyroid function.
So you need iodine, selenium and sufficient CoQ10 to support thyroid and mitochondrial activities.
If you do not use iodized salt or inject whatever other foods that are iodine fortified in your country, you are iodine deficient, TSH levels become elevated and fT3 levels and body temperatures drop.
When thyroid hormone levels are really bad, your levels are outside of lab normal ranges and your doctor diagnoses you with hyperthyroidism. However, many suffer with thyroid hormones that are in lab normal ranges. There are two problems here. One is that the lab ranges are insane and the other problem is doctors who are ignorant about these issues.
In my work with many who have thyroid/iodine problems, I have NEVER seen where a doctor has asked about someone's iodine intake, use of iodized salt etc.
I term these "subclinical" problems - "low thyroid function".
You can check your overall thyroid function by checking oral body temperature:
- when you first wake up, should be 97.7-97.8, higher is OK, 97.3 is a problem
- also check to see if you hit 98.6 mid-afternoon
If body temperatures are low, this can be from not using iodized salt or some other source of iodine. Some countries add iodine to bread and others to dairy. If you have used iodized salt long term and temperatures are low, your rT3 might be elevated.
fT3 can be elevated from:
- high life/work stress
- major stress events
- chronic infection or inflammation
- starvation diets
- acute illnesses
Dealing with rT3 and "Adrenal Fatigue" issues is beyond the scope of this document.
You may need to get thyroid labs work done:
- TSH, the lab ranges are 10:1 --> 15:1, clearly the range is insane. You are better off near 1.0
- fT3 and fT3 should be mid-range or a bit higher
- please do not test T3, T4; but these should also be mid-range or a bit higher
If fT3 is good and body temperatures are low, this suggests elevated rT3 which can then be tested.
Symptoms of low thyroid function and hypothyroidism:
- For men, many symptoms are the same as low testosterone
- Brain fog
- Low libido
- Depression, apathy
- General hair thinning
- Sparse outer eyebrows
- Lower body temperatures
- Feeling cold easily
- Dry skin
- Enlarged, asymmetrical or lumpy thyroid gland
- Sore thyroid/throat
- Getting fat
- Inability to loose fat
- Deviations from thyroid hormone levels suggested above
Some younger people can have low thyroid function and still work out at the gym and get things done by sheer will power. I suspect that this is hard on the adrenals and might be a stressor contributing to adrenal fatigue and elevated rT3
The above addresses issues that directly affect metabolic rate and perceived energy levels.
Steroid hormones are all derived from cholesterol:
- Testosterone [T]
- EstraDIol [E2]
- EstrONE [E2]
- EsTRIol [E3]
- Cortisol and other corticosteroids
You may be wondering about vitamin D. Vitamin D3 is make and stored during sun exposure and converted through several step to product Vit-D25 which is a true hormone and I categorize it as another steroid hormone, even though its production pathways are totally different from the other classic steroid hormones. The RDA for vitamin-D is sufficient to prevent rickets in children; the amount needed for optimal health is much higher. Many need 5,000iu per day; some more. Find other references for more info. Nothing in your body runs well without adequate vitamin D.
The steroid production pathways are roughly these two:
Cholesterol --> pregnenolone --> DHEA --> testosterone --> E2 and other estrogens
Cholesterol --> pregnenolone --> progesterone --> cortisol and other corticosteroids
So what performs [cholesterol --> pregnenolone]?
Notice that cholesterol is been consumed. This is done inside the mitochondria that consume fats, sugars and cholesterol in the blood stream.
If serum cholesterol levels are too low, pregnenolone production and downstream hormone production can suffer. If mitochondrial are compromised by fT3, fT3 blocked by rT3 or low CoQ10 levels, cholesterol levels can rise, one can get fat and develop insulin resistance to go along with low testosterone levels.
In males, the adrenals produce DHEA, progesterone, cortisol and other corticosteroids.
DHEA is converted to testosterone in the testes.
Pregnenolone is produced generally in mitochondria, but a large amount of this occurs in the testes.
The male symptoms of low testosterone or estrogen dominance are:
- loss of muscle mass, inability to gain muscle
- fat gain, inability to loose fat
- low libido
- good looking girls women start to look pretty instead of objects of lust
- brain fog
- erectile dysfunction [ED]
- mood problems and depression, irritability, noise sensitivity, apathy, short tempered
- dry skin [sometimes]
- loss of hair below the knees, shiny skin
- loss of collagen and thinning, sagging skin
- pinched skin on back of hand does not recover fast Ã?Â¢?? tenting
- in some cases, testes may become smaller and scrotum may pull up tight
- increased cholesterol levels, some of which is reduced by TRT
- decreased insulin sensitivity, pre-diabetic state or diabetes
- endothelial dysfunction
- reduced life expectancy and quality of life
- prostate enlargement, from estrogen dominance
- increased blood pressure related to arterial muscle tone
When things are working right, testosterone production is regulated by LH produced by the pituitary under control of the hypothalamus. This negative feedback loop used these hormones as feedback signals
- E2 and other estrogens
The primary Hypothalamic Pituitary Testicular Axis [HPTA] is most sensitive to E2 and other estrogens as the male HPTA is modeled from similar functions of the female HPOA.
Further details are available in articles specific to Testosterone Replacement Therapy [TRT].
At this point you can see the interplay of:
- Thyroid hormones
Hypothyroidism can lead to low LH/FSH and hypogonadism [low-T].
Low-T often presents with low thyroid function.
Very often, I see guys on or needing TRT who have low thyroid function; many of them had not had long term use of iodized salt or vitamins that list iodine+selenium. I now spend more time dealing with thyroid and iodine issues than core TRT issues.