Many people are asking if they have a thyroid problem. Their hair is falling out, they suddenly become sensitive to certain foods, they always have cold hands or they have gained weight without any apparent reason.
What is the optimal and normal thyroid levels range
There are “normal lab values” for blood tests results, but there are also “optimal” ranges which actually tell you far more about your thyroid. My basic thyroid levels (TSH, T3, T4) have always been in the “NORMAL” range. However, when I was sick, they were not in the “OPTIMAL” ranges. Below is a list of functional/optimal ranges for thyroid markers. If your results are outside these levels, you should definitely start treating your thyroid levels. so you can start feeling better.
I have written about my recommendations for a good endocrinologist in my other post.
Optimal thyroid levels chart
Some of the medical practitioners are now becoming more attentive of the limits in thyroid testing. They are aware of the patterns of thyroid symptoms of patients with results in normal range. But for many people it still takes a lot of energy to be taken seriously by their doctors.
Take your latest blood test results and compare them to the chart below:
As you can see in the above table, there is a notable difference between the “normal” and “optimal” ranges. Maybe your doctor relies on the old conservative values and claims that your thyroid is working properly. The question is – If my thyroid test results are normal, why do I still feel so bad?
Current findings of The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists And The American Thyroid Association support the need to establish a narrower thyroid test reference range. Also a lowering of the upper limit of the range. Read more here: https://www.aace.com/files/hypothyroidism_guidelines.pdf
Thyroid laboratory tests
Millions of people deal with mysterious symptoms that seemingly appear out of nowhere: sudden weight gain, cold hands, hot flashes, hair loss, fatigue, brain fog or depression. They may be living with an undetected thyroid condition. Source: Over 13 Million Americans with Thyroid Disease Remain Undiagnosed.
It is not possible to diagnose thyroid disorders without full investigation done by the doctor. What if your doctor’s opinion relies on TSH alone or maybe a combination of TSH with T4? Then critical pieces of the puzzle are missing.
For many thyroid sufferers, their bodies don’t convert T4 to T3 properly. In this case, the doctors who only test for TSH / T4, the symptoms do not improve in the best case scenario. It pays to find a doctor who is open to do full thyroid tests.
A full thyroid panel of tests must at least include these seven key elements:
- Free T4
- Free T3
- Reverse T3
- Thyroglobulin Antibodies
- Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (TPO)
- TSH Receptor Antibodies
The problem is that often times doctors REFUSE to run these tests. If your doctor is simply unwilling to do these seven tests, I urge you to seek a second medical opinion. Have you been currently tested for thyroid symptoms and the results came back normal? You, unfortunately, could still have an over- or underactive thyroid and not know it.
It is certainly an eye-opening reality for many people who has been misdiagnosed for a long time. There is another potential source of thyroid- and other auto-immune diseases to be considered: Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). EBV can live in a human body completely unnoticed apart from the scratchy throat and occasional tiredness. Then in the later stages, the virus becomes highly active destructive. This is when it takes up residence in the thyroid. If you are interested, you can read more here.
Why are T4 and T3 levels important?
The function of the thyroid gland is to use, convert iodine into thyroid hormones:
Thyroxine (T4) and Triiodothyronine (T3).
Thyroid cells are the only cells in the body which can absorb iodine. These cells combine iodine and the amino acid tyrosine to make T3 and T4. T3 and T4 are then released into the blood stream and are transported throughout the body where they control metabolism (conversion of oxygen and calories to energy).
The whole human well-being is depended on thyroid hormones.
The thyroid gland is the sole source of T4 and the source of only 10 to 20% of T3. The remaining 80 to 90% of T3 comes from conversion of T4 to T3 by organs such as the liver, kidneys, brain, and skin. In other words, the body itself breaks down T4 to produce the amount of T3 it needs.When a patient begins to take levothyroxine, the level of T4 rises and becomes stable over a five-week period. From then on, the level of T4 in the blood changes very little after each pill—the level of T4 is slow to rise and slow to fall.
On the other hand, when a patient regularly takes T3, the level of T3 in the blood tends to rise and fall rapidly over a period of hours after each pill. In addition, since T3 is much more potent than T4, a patient may experience symptoms of hyperthyroidism for several hours after taking a substantial dose of T3.
Indeed, patients taking thyroid hormone preparations containing substantial amounts of T3 may prefer them to preparations containing only T4. Their reasons vary, but many patients say that it is easier to maintain their weight and that they have more energy when they take this combination of thyroid hormones. However, these benefits may come at a price—patients are often hyperthyroid for several hours each day. Hyperthyroidism predisposes these patients to osteoporosis, heart rhythm disturbances, and, possibly, a shorter life span. Substituting one disease for another is not desirable.
Commercially available thyroid hormone preparations made from animal thyroid glands invariably contain T3 and, as noted above, should not be used. Another reason to avoid these animal thyroid hormone preparations is the difficulty in preparing tablets that have exactly the same amount of thyroid hormones in each tablet. On the other hand, brand-name synthetic levothyroxine generally can be relied upon to have the stated amount of T4 in each tablet.