We all age. And as our bodies are aging as thyroid patients, so can the wonderful optimal functions our bodies once had. Here are 7 areas which can go south, and what to do about them. ~Janie, hypothyroid patient and site creator
NOTE that when the words “aging” or “getting older” are mentioned, there’s no way to actually say “this or that age”, unless mentioned below. Some of these issues can start at even younger ages, but older than you were before!
1) DIGESTIVE ENZYME FUNCTION CAN GO DOWNHILL — what aging patients are doing about it
Most of our lives, we get benefit from naturally-made digestive enzymes which help digest/break down that food we eat in order to absorb important nutrition for the running of our bodies.
For example, eating can tap our pancreas to release “pancreatin” which contains several different enzymes (amylase, lipase and protease)1. These enzymes can break down the protein, carbs/starches and fats you eat. i.e. specific enzymes work on specific foods. Amylase targets those carbs/starches like fruits, potatoes, sweet products, etc). Lipase targets those fatty foods like cream, oils, nuts and fat on meats, etc). Protease targets the protein foods such as eggs, cheese, meats and even nuts.
There’s also another important enzyme not released by the pancreas, but made via bacteria, called Cellulase. Cellulase breaks down fiber and cellulose. There are more enzymes, but you get the drift.
But as the body ages, the body’s ability to trigger (due to less stomach acid) and produce all these digestive enzymes may decline, thus, you start to see lowering of important nutrients, as well as less energy. And in some, it can happen sooner than others!
Check out “digestive enzymes” on a site like Amazon or others and read the reviews on various brands. I find this to be an excellent way to find a good product.
2) STOMACH ACID LEVELS CAN FALL — what aging patients are doing about it
I, Janie, especially saw this in my mother-in-law as she aged. Her worsening acid reflux was a sure sign. And this becomes even worse if we are still on T4-only meds, which in itself causes a fall in stomach acid at any age. Then you add the aging cause of lowered stomach acid on top of a poor thyroid treatment and you’ve got a disaster.
Why is stomach acid so important? It plays a role with enzymes in breaking down your food and supplements for digestion, plus the absorption of nutrients. And breaking down the food better empties the stomach better, which means less stomach problems.
What to do? Adding 2-3 teaspoons of either Apple Cider Vinegar or lemon juice into every drink with meals brings the acid back into the stomach, say thyroid patients, which improves absorption of nutrients from better digestion.
3) THE ABILITY TO CONVERT THE THYROID STORAGE HORMONE T4 to THE ACTIVE T3 CAN DECLINE — what aging patients are doing about it
There are a variety of issues which can affect conversion of the storage hormone T4 to the active hormone T3, and aging appears to be one of them. i.e. there’s an enzyme called 5′-deiodinase, and it’s responsible for the breakdown of T4 to T3. And even research underscores that it can become less effective as one ages.2
Based on comments by older individuals, they are making sure to have direct T3 in their treatment, whether adding synthetic T3 to our T4, or using Natural Desiccated Thyroid–the latter which contains all five thyroid hormones. Healthy levels of T3 appear to end up towards the top “area” of the range–not a specific number, just up there. ***Optimal iron and cortisol are important to achieve it. And contrary to what doctors are being told, older individuals seem to need direct T3 in their treatment even more because of conversion problems…and they report needing optimal amounts to counter the feedback loop! SHARE THIS PAGE WITH YOUR DOCTOR if he or she is being influenced by false information. SEE GRAPHIC BELOW.
4) GENE MUTATIONS MAY REAR THEIR UGLY HEADS — what aging patients are doing about it
Gene mutations can be activated at any age. But with aging, there may be more mutations expressing themselves more acutely than before.
That’s where using 23andme.com to get one’s genetics (then uploading the raw data to a site like livewello.com to see what’s going on) may open up ideas as to what just might start expressing itself. It’s a guessing game, of course. But if we see things that imply a gene mutation is now active, there is all sorts of information we can look up to see what we might do about it, as well as forums. Many doctors are becoming more informed about genetic mutations, as well, and can help.
5) B12 CAN FALL (or go too high) — what aging patients are doing about it
B12, which is one of eight B vitamins, is such an important nutrient! It contributes to…
- brain and memory health
- better mood
- optimal functioning of your nervous system
- the formation of red blood cells
- overall good health
Conversely, if B12 falls low, or if the MTHFR with the COMT mutations become active in older age, which causes you not to break it down well for use (making it above the range), you might notice issues like
- memory problems
- numbness sensations in your little fingers, hands, legs or feet
- overall weakness or fatigue
- even a swollen tongue and more.
Studies3,4,5 show that B12 can start to fall after age 60 due to decreased absorption, and you might not even realize it until symptoms take over. What to do about it? Many doctors recommend supplementation.
On the label, B12 is called cobalamin and there are four types:
- Cyano- version, though cheap, is the least recommended as it’s the least absorbable.
- Methyl- version is more highly recommended since it’s already broken down for use. But if you have both MTHFR and COMP mutations, B12 can build high in your blood and not break down for use…so if this happens…
- Hydroxy- version is then recommended if you have these mutations. It’s easily broken down to the active B12 and safe for more people, say studies.
- Adenosyl- version of B12 is also recommended, as it’s stored in the mitochondria and helps break down carbs and proteins for energy.
6) THE ABILITY TO RECOVER FROM STRESS MAY DECLINE — what aging patients are doing about it
Studies show that as we age, we tend to have higher levels of cortisol in response to stress, plus lower levels of DHEA–the latter which have been falling substantially with every decade. And those higher levels of cortisol can have a negative impact on our brain6 and immune function, just as low DHEA can decrease one’s immune function.
What to do about it? For one, experts recommend taking certain adrenal-supportive supplements when we are under a lot of stress. Herbs which help counter stress include:
- holy basil
- korean ginseng
- licorice root (though this can lower potassium and patients report other side effects, so many say no about this one)
We all have to make sure we don’t have any known allergies or sensitivities to to any of the above. Also, many preparations will include many of the above, and can also have adrenal glandular with the herbs. Any good health food store on internet websites can have these adrenal supportive supplements. DHEA supplementation is also recommended with aging–your doctor can help you with the amount.
Sometimes, we may not treat the stress in time, and we end up with low cortisol. For the latter, herbs won’t be enough. This is where we order the 24 hour adrenal saliva test to see how we stand.
If cortisol is low, patients have taken adrenal cortex if only minorly low, or a prescription of Hydrocortisone from our doctors for more serious low cortisol. It’s all explained what patients have learned in Chapter 6 of the revised STTM book, also called STTM I. You would need to work with your doctor on this information.
Also recommended when under stress is taking comfortable walks, eating as healthy as you can, napping, and sleeping as long as we can during the nighttime.
7) LEVELS of CoQ10 CAN FALL — what aging patients are doing about it
CoQ10, know as Co-enzyme Q10 or ubiquinone, is a substance similar to a vitamin and known to be a powerful natural antioxidant. Besides having a major positive effect on heart health and your mitochondria’s ability to produce energy, Life Extension7 states that CoQ10 also has “protective effects in the brain and nervous system, in asthma and chronic lung disease, in diabetes and the metabolic syndrome, on ocular health, and even on the aging immune system.”
Studies even show a correlation between the right amount of CoQ10 and lowered risk of dementia as you age.8
And with the aging of your body, your ability to break down ubiquinone to the active ubiquinol may be decreased, as well as your ability to absorb CoQ10 from food. Also note that statins, which many older folks are put on due to rising cholesterol, can lower CoQ10!
The solution? Cutting edge doctors recommend supplementation. And the majority seem to agree that taking “ubiquinol”, the active form, is a better choice than “ubiquinone”. Recommended doses range from 100 mg to 600 mg depending on who you read. Work with your doctor on this.
From Janie: the above is not an exhaustive list of what can go downhill with aging, but gives you a great start!
** HAVE YOU LIKED THE Stop the Thyroid Madness FACEBOOK PAGE?? Similar to the STTM website and books, it’s strongly based on reported patient experiences and the wisdom gained from them. STTM is the MOTHERSHIP of those reported experiences.
** Check out the Laughing Grape Publishing page for both STTM books.