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The Thyroid-Cholesterol Connection


 We’ve all heard of the important hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, but have you ever wondered where these compounds come from? Just how does our body produce them? The answer may surprise you.

One of the main building blocks of our “sex hormones” is none other than cholesterol. Yup, the great bogeyman of modern medicine is actually a key player in our hormonal health. What’s more, cholesterol is essential to the functions of digestion, learning, and memory, among many others. Who knew, right?

Well, science knew. In fact, researchers have known of the importance of cholesterol to human health for a century. Unfortunately, back around the 1920s, some scientists hypothesized that cholesterol causes heart disease, and the compound quickly went from vital human nutrient to public health enemy number one.

Turns out those researchers were wrong about cholesterol and heart disease (a topic we’ll examine in detail next month in honor of Cholesterol Awareness Month), but while high cholesterol doesn’t tell you much about your risk of a heart attack, it might be telling you something about your thyroid.

Thyroid hormone—the main hormone produced by the thyroid gland—is like the “general” of human metabolism, orchestrating all kinds of reactions and regulations to keep the body running smoothly. In particular, it signals the body to convert cholesterol in the blood into sex hormones and other vital compounds such as cortisol and bile acids.

And this is exactly what happens when things are going right with the thyroid. But when things are not well—when the amount of thyroid hormone in the blood is low for whatever reason—then the signal to convert cholesterol is diminished, and high amounts of cholesterol remain in the blood.

The problem just described is incredibly common. It’s so widespread, in fact, that cholesterol researcher Dr. Chris Masterjohn calls low thyroid activity “probably the most common cause” of abnormal cholesterol levels in the blood. In other words, the thyroid-cholesterol connection is a Big Deal.

Now pretend you’re a health practitioner. You look at a patient’s cholesterol report and see the count is high. What do you do? Would you put your client on a synthetic drug that forces the body to reduce its production of cholesterol, that nutrient so vital to good health? Or would you look for the most probable cause of high cholesterol—hypothyroidism—and address the root issue?

We’ll let you be the judge of that.


Author: Patrick Earvolino / Editors: Patrick Earvolino and Kirsten Potter / Published with permission by Natural Thyroid Healing™

  1. Kim

    I have just had my 2 children tested for suspected thyroid problems, girl age 6 (adopted from Russia) and boy age 17. They had many tests run (Dr. Haskell ordered). They thyroid tests came back “normal” but both had high cholesterol. Girl had high total cholesterol and boy had very high triglycerides. I read this thyroid/cholesterol connection and wonder what your thoughts are. Are am very concerned about them both and don’t want to overlook a potential problem just because the thyroid numbers fall into the normal category. You should also know both children are being treated for ADHD.

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