The thyroid is an endocrine gland (one of the most important of the body) about 10 cm long and 4 cm wide, located at the front of the neck (more or less where the last button of the shirt closes), and normally not visible from the outside. It has the shape of a small butterfly composed of two lobes joined by a small bridge called isthmus. Thyroid is a very small gland that regulates the functioning of many organs of our body.
The function of the thyroid is to synthesize two hormones called T4 and T3 (thyroxine and triiodothyronine), fundamental for many physiological processes. In fact, thyroid hormones control metabolism and the functions of nervous, circulatory, skeletal and gastrointestinal systems. In addition, they ensure the proper functioning of the reproductive system and contribute to the good condition of skin and hairs.
The hormones T4 and T3 produced by the thyroid are the only ones that contain iodine. Therefore, it is crucial to take at least 150 micrograms/day of iodine with diet, as recommended by the World Health Organization. At table you must replace regular house salt with iodized salt, and to eat iodine-reach foods such as milk, yogurt, sea fish, shellfish. This must be associated with a healthy and possibly peaceful life-style, since some thyroid diseases may be triggered by severe stressful events.
When programming a baby it is important to control mother's thyroid function and to increase the daily iodine intake to at least 250 micrograms. In fact, in pregnant women the thyroid must work for two since the fetal thyroid gland does not develop before the 13th week of gestation, and from there on its functioning must be supported with an adequate iodine intake by the mother. It has been demonstrated that iodine deficiency may cause infertility and its occurrence during pregnancy may have detrimental consequences on fetal development. As a consequence, measurements of blood thyroid hormones level and dietary iodine intake when approaching and during pregnancy are highly recommended.