January2023 ThyroidCebu City – As the country celebrates Goiter Awareness Week this last week of January with the theme “Leeg Kapain, Goiter Sugpuin: Isip ay Patalinuhin, Iodized Salt ay Gamitin”, the National Nutrition Council Region VII reminds the public to care for their thyroid. 

What is thyroid and how does it work in our body? The thyroid gland is a tiny, butterfly-shaped gland that is situated in the front of the neck, right below the voice box (larynx). Glands are organs in the body that regulate or produce hormones for body processes. The main job of the thyroid is to control the metabolism of our body.

A healthy thyroid function properly. It continuously produces different hormones, releases them, and then produces new hormones to replace those that have been used by our body’s cells. The thyroid tells how much energy our body needs. Additionally, these hormones control the heart rate and temperature of the body. The thyroid gland keeps all your body's systems in check and your metabolism running smoothly. When there is decreased (hypothyroidism) or increased (hyperthyroidism) of thyroid hormones in the blood the entire body is affected.

So how do you care for your thyroid? Here’s how:

Include thyroid-healthy foods in your diet. Consuming foods that contain large amounts of iodine would have a healthy impact towards the health of our thyroid gland. These foods include roasted seaweeds, salted nuts, dairy, baked fish, and fresh eggs. Experts recommend the intake of 150 micrograms of iodine every day.

Do regular examination of your neck. Look for any abnormality of your neck, “Leeg ay kapain”, as the theme emphasized. When in doubt, see your physician who may require you to do laboratory procedures like thyroid function test or ultrasound and blood studies.

Check family history of goiter or other thyroid conditions. Knowing the family history can guide you and your physician in detecting problems early, initiating preventive measures and undertaking treatment, as needed.

Consult your physician when you experience symptoms of hyper or hypothyroidism. The classic symptoms of hyperthyroidism include heat intolerance, tremor, palpitations, anxiety, weight loss despite a normal or increased appetite, increased frequency of bowel movements, and shortness of breath. Symptoms of hypothyroidism on the other hand include tiredness, more sensitivity to cold, constipation, dry skin, weight gain, hoarse voice and coarse hair and skin.

In the Philippines, former President Fidel V. Ramos signed into law Republic Act No. 8172, Act on Salt Iodization Nationwide or the ASIN Law. The policy aims to contribute to the elimination of the micronutrient malnutrition in the country, particularly iodine deficiency disorders, through cost-effective preventive measure of salt iodization. The law also requires that all producers/manufacturers of food-grade salt to iodize the salt that they produce, manufacture, import, trade or distribute.

The law serves as the legal basis for local governments to formulate plans and implement various actions to contribute in the elimination of micronutrient deficiency specifically IDD. // DMO II Gabe Henriel P. Sucalit, RND