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The thyroid gland (glandula thyroidea) is a butterfly-shaped organ and is located in the neck just below the larynx on the anterior wall of the windpipe. It is one of the body's vital hormone glands. The hormones thyroxine and triiodothyronine produced by it are a prerequisite for the normal function of many organ systems. In children, they are also important for normal physical and mental development.
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Why the thyroid needs iodine
In order to produce thyroid hormones, the thyroid gland needs iodine, which is an essential trace element that must be supplied with food as the body cannot produce it itself.
Austria is an iodine deficiency area - the normal diet therefore contains too little iodine. The iodine deficiency can be traced back to the last ice age, when it was washed out into the oceans. To compensate for this deficiency, iodination of table salt has been prescribed by law in Austria since 1963.
The iodination of table salt was increased again in 1990. Nevertheless, iodine deficiency can also occur in Austria.
How thyroid hormones work in the body
The thyroid is controlled by a hormone from the pituitary gland, the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). Using a feedback mechanism, it increases or decreases hormone production in the thyroid, depending on the thyroid hormone level in the blood.
Thyroid hormones increase the basal metabolic rate and energy consumption of the organism. Their main functions are:
- Heat production through increased oxygen consumption and energy turnover,
- Increase in carbohydrate intake and the body's own production of carbohydrates and protein,
- increased release of the body's own fat stocks and acceleration of cholesterol breakdown,
- Increase in pulse and blood pressure,
- Increase of bone remodeling processes,
- Growth and maturation of the skeleton, brain and muscles.