TSH

Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) Ultimate Cheat Sheet

Thyroid-stimulating hormone, TSH, is the hormone responsible for controlling hormone production by the thyroid gland. The hormone TSH is considered the most sensitive marker for screening for thyroid diseases and conditions. Our thyroid panel is ideal for TSH testing at home and will tell you how your levels compare to normal TSH levels.

What is the thyroid gland?
What is T3?
What is T4?
What is its function?
What can cause TSH to change?
What symptoms are related to abnormal TSH?
Superfoods that can help an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
8 more great ways to increase your TSH
Facts about the thyroid
How does vitamin D have an effect on the thyroid gland?
How to monitor your thyroid (and vitamin D) from home.

What is the thyroid gland?

The thyroid is a small gland located in the middle of the lower neck.

The thyroid gland is responsible for releasing hormones that regulate all cell functions including regulating your metabolism, hair growth, breathing and heart rate.

The thyroid gland also produces and secretes thyroid hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).

What is Triiodothyronine (T3)?

T3 plays a role in your body’s metabolic rate, regulating the digestive system, muscle control, brain development and the function and maintenance of bones. 

It is the active form of the thyroid hormones produced by the thyroid gland.

What is Thyroxine (T4)?

Thyroxine (T4) is the main hormone produced by the thyroid gland. 

Thyroxine has the same role as T3. However, T4  is the inactive form of the group of thyroid hormones.

Confused?  Let’s make an analogy. 

T3 is the hustler while T4 is his limo driver.  T3 makes things happen to your body while T4 transports T3 to the areas it needs to go.

The thyroid gland is the engine behind the production and secretion of both thyroid hormones. If your thyroid gland isn’t performing optimally, neither are you.

What is its function?

TSH plays an important role in production of T3 and T4 which are both important for keeping your metabolism under control.  Your heart rate, breathing, & body temperature are all regulated by these hormones.

In a nutshell:

If your T3 and T4 levels are low, more TSH is produced. 

If your T3 and T4 levels are high, less TSH is produced.

What symptoms appear when TSH is too high or low?

One of the most common symptoms of hypothyroidism (high TSH) include:

  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Low blood pressure/slower pulse rate
  • Depression
  • Constipation
  • Tingling skin
  • Irregular periods
  • Low libido
  • Short term memory loss
  • Muscle cramping
  • Hair loss or thinning
  • Dry or rough skin

Some of the most common symptoms of hyperthyroidism (low TSH)  include:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Chronic fatigue
  • High blood pressure or increased pulse rate
  • Anxiety
  • Heat intolerance
  • Diarrhea
  • Itchy skin or hives
  • Low libido
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Muscle weakness
  • Hair loss or thinning
  • Smooth, warm or moist skin

What can cause TSH to change?

This seems counterintuitive, but when you have low TSH your thyroid is overactive and is referred to as hyperthyroidism.  This is due to high levels of other related hormones, T3 and T4 being released.

Medications that contain T3 can also affect your results.  To avoid this, take your blood sample at 8am in the morning after at least 8 hours sleep.  

If TSH levels are high, then your thyroid is considered underactive.  This is called hypothyroidism. Conversely, T3 and T4 levels will be low. 

TSH levels can be out of range due to under-treatment using thyroid medications. Other causes might include:

  • Chronic Illness
  • Acute Severe Illness 
  • Stress
  • Pregnancy
  • Some Medications
  • Pituitary Gland Problems

What symptoms are related to abnormal TSH?

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms below, we recommend you test your TSH levels and start to monitor them over time so that you can get a clearer picture of what’s happening and when.

  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue or feeling tired all the time
  • Slow pulse or heart rate
  • Hair loss or thinning
  • Poor tolerance of the cold
  • Depression
  • Dry, coarse or thickened skin
  • Constipation
  • Hand tingling or pain (carpal tunnel syndrome)
  • Irregular period or low sex drive
  • Muscle cramps
  • Impaired memory
  • Brain fog

Superfoods that can help an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)

While the cause of thyroid disorders is largely unknown, there is evidence that certain foods can aid in thyroid function. Here are five foods that can help.

Fresh eggs

Eggs contain healthy amounts of both selenium and iodine. For the most health benefits, eat the whole egg, as the yolk holds most of the nutrients.

Baked fish

Fish is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and selenium, which both help decrease inflammation. Bake salmon, cod, sea bass, haddock, or perch for lunch or dinner to get a healthy dose of Omega-3s and selenium.

Roasted seaweed

Seaweed, such as kelp, nori, and wakame, are naturally rich in iodine—a trace element needed for normal thyroid function. Eat seaweed with sushi or get packaged seaweed snacks to toss in salads.

Frozen yogurt

Dairy products like yogurt, ice cream, and milk contain iodine. The thyroid needs iodine to prevent its glands from becoming enlarged—known as goiter. Treat yourself to a low-fat serving of frozen yogurt to get sufficient levels of iodine.

Salted nuts

Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, and hazelnuts are excellent sources of selenium, which helps support healthy thyroid function. Pack a small bag of assorted nuts to snack on throughout the day.

Here 8 more ways to increase your TSH

1. Support your adrenals. Low TSH can be due to stress on your adrenals. (mental, physical, emotional, psychological etc.).

Doctors recommend balancing protein, healthy fats, and high-quality, nutrient-dense carbohydrates. Increase your vegetable intake to get the necessary amount of vitamins and minerals. Also, include foods high in vitamin C, B vitamins (especially B-5 and B-6), and magnesium to help support healthy adrenal glands.

2. If you’re on medications, talk to your doctor about the dose you are currently on. 

Monitoring your TSH using Lab Me while on your medication can be very helpful in order to tell if the medication is having its intended effect.

3. Get tested monthly. If your TSH is below .50, I recommend getting your TSH tested monthly until it comes back into a normal range. Your doctor can assist you in this, or you can get it tested yourself through Lab Me.

4. Take an honest look at the emotional stress in your life. Low TSH is often rooted in emotional stress, so it’s helpful to make a list of stressful things that have happened throughout your life and evaluate what you need to do about those things. 

5. Another common root cause of low TSH is toxicity in the body. Taking steps to remove all processed foods from the body and supporting liver detoxification can be incredibly helpful.  Consider using milk thistle for liver detoxification.

6. Make sleep a priority. The body cannot heal and come back into balance without adequate sleep. 

7. Limit caffeine. Caffeine can create an imbalance in the HPA-axis and lower TSH, so it’s really best to limit your coffee consumption.

Facts about the thyroid

  • One in eight women will develop thyroid problems during her lifetime, particularly after pregnancy and during menopause. The most common thyroid condition is hypothyroidism. Some symptoms include fatigue, feeling cold, muscle weakness and unexplained weight gain.
  • An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. 
  • Up to 60 percent of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition. 
  • Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems.

How does vitamin D have an effect on the thyroid gland?

Vitamin D plays an important role in your immune function and low levels are linked to autoimmune thyroid disorders.

While your body is able to make all the vitamin D you need, it needs enough sunlight to do this. So during autumn and winter, it’s common for your vitamin D levels to drop — putting you at risk of developing a deficiency.

We recommend testing your vitamin D alongside your TSH.

How can I monitor my TSH & Vitamin D from home?

Lab me provides easy to use, accurate, at-home testing for various biomarkers including TSH and vitamin D. Here are the tests we provide that focus on TSH.

Women’s Executive Test
Female Wellness Test

Both also include vitamin D plus many more.

If you are looking for something specific – please let us know and we will do our best to support you.

Contact Us Here

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