Synthroid – Does Thyroid Medication Lead To Weight Loss?

Are you looking for a medication that helps with hypothyroidism? Then Synthroid (levothyroxine) may help you manage this thyroid disease.

The reversal effects of this prescription drug may also aid in weight loss and hair growth.

A healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise are key elements for losing weight. However, if you have hypothyroidism, your underactive thyroid gland can cause weight gain.

Have regular tests to check your thyroid hormone levels if you have a thyroid condition.

“It’s difficult for someone with hypothyroidism to lose or maintain a healthy weight because T3, the active thyroid hormone, is low,” says Kelly Austin, ND, a naturopathic doctor at the Prime Wellness Clinic in San Diego, California. T3 is an important hormone that controls metabolic activities in the body.

Synthroid for hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism, also known as low thyroid or underactive thyroid, is a disorder of the endocrine system. The gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones. Triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) are two essential hormones that are produced and released by the thyroid gland. They are primarily responsible for the regulation of metabolism in your body.

Low thyroid levels result in cold sensitivity, dry hair, hair loss, depression, fatigue, and weight gain.

Levothyroxine, commonly available under the brand name Synthroid, is used to treat hypothyroidism.

In 2014, the American Thyroid Association (ATA) released guidelines showing the best treatments for hypothyroidism; and they include levothyroxine.

If you have hypothyroidism or thyroid cancer, your doctor might prescribe levothyroxine as a treatment option for you. It’s safe to take levothyroxine.

According to the manufacturer, taking Synthroid helps to restore thyroid hormone levels.

The chief ingredient in this medication is levothyroxine sodium. It is an artificial or synthetic thyroid hormone identical to thyroxine, the hormone naturally made by the thyroid gland.

Benefits of levothyroxine

Hypothyroidism does not have a permanent solution. For this reason, you need to continue with the Synthroid medication for a lifelong period.

Normally, the doctor recommends the patient have a dose of Synthroid every morning. This drug will begin to show its effect only after a week or so. Then, through further tests, the doctor will recommend the right dose of this drug to be taken to supply thyroid hormones at the correct level.

Hypothyroidism can cause weight gain, hair loss, dry hair, and a few other symptoms. Synthroid works by helping your thyroid gland maintain a balanced amount of hormones. Thus, soon many of the symptoms will disappear. Therefore, unintentional effects of Synthroid include reverse weight gain and prevention of hair fall.

Thyroid hormones and obesity 

Some of the recent studies on hypothyroid therapy with thyroid hormone substitution show that weight loss is found in obese patients. This mostly happens because of thyrotoxicosis and not because of the drugs used.

However, some research reports indicate a close relationship between Synthroid and weight gain. If that is the case, hypothyroid drugs may cause weight gain because of increased metabolism in some of the patients.

Another study on hypothyroid patients showed that weight loss resulting from hypothyroid medication is mainly due to water loss from the edema, another symptom found in hypothyroidism.

Synthroid and other synthetic thyroid hormones used for treating hypothyroidism act by achieving a normal TSH level that falls within 0.45 to 2.5 ml/L.

When you have achieved a balanced level of thyroid hormone in your body, it prevents weight gain caused by poor metabolic activities in the body.

Most studies on hyperthyroid conditions agree that weight loss results from synthetic thyroid hormones like Synthroid are minimal. Despite the use of this medication, hypothyroidism may still make you gain weight.

Synthroid and weight loss 

A recent study published by the American Physiological Society substantiates the importance of thyroid hormone (TH) for normal development as well as regulating metabolism in adults.

TR regulates cholesterol and carbohydrate metabolism through direct actions on gene expression as well as cross-talk with other nuclear receptors. A significant level of imbalance or lack of TH can lead to weight gain and obesity issues.

Synthroid, by balancing the TH level in the body, helps to reverse symptoms of weight gain.

Amber Taylor Champion, MD, of Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, says, “Thyroid hormone isn’t the only component involved in metabolism, but thyroid hormone is essential and is needed to run nearly every organ system in the body.”

Synthroid and Armour Thyroid are two commonly recommended drugs for hypothyroidism. These drugs are replacements for thyroid hormones that influence metabolism and body weight.

Synthroid may help you lose weight if your weight gain issue is resulting from a low level of Thyroid hormones. However, besides the TH, some other factors influence weight gain or weight loss.

Synthroid and weight gain

Studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that thyroid hormones play only a minor role in weight gain or loss.

Synthroid helps to effectively treat hypothyroidism, and this may cause some weight loss. To ensure the best results from Synthroid, create the conditions required for maximum assimilation of this drug by your body.

Doctors recommend the use of Synthroid on an empty stomach after you wake up in the morning. Never take other supplements, especially those with calcium or iron, within four hours of having this medication.

Undergo thyroid tests as recommended by your doctor to finalize the right dose of Synthroid required to resolve the symptoms of hypothyroidism. A TSH level under 2.0 is right for the resolution of the symptoms.

When you consistently maintain a healthy level of TSH, it reduces the chances of weight gain caused by hypothyroidism.

Should you use Synthroid for weight loss?

According to Medline Plus, Synthroid should not be used exclusively for weight loss in people with healthy thyroid function.

Using Synthroid for weight loss treatment on a long-term basis can cause life-threatening toxicities.

It is a prescription medicine that should be used only under the supervision of a qualified medical professional.

According to the Mayo Clinic report rather than slow metabolism, factors more likely to contribute to weight gain include:

  • Eating excess calories
  • Physically inactive lifestyle
  • Family history and genetics
  • Unhealthy habits, such as routinely not getting enough sleep
  • Hormonal factors

If you have normal thyroid function and are overweight, reducing your daily caloric intake is necessary to lose weight. If you plan your meals with a calorie deficit of 500 to 1000 calories per day, you can easily lose up to 2 pounds per week.

When you combine your calorie-deficit diet with daily workouts, you can maintain a healthy body weight level on a long-term basis.

Side effects of Synthroid

Taking too much Synthroid can cause adverse results. It can lead to another disease called hyperthyroidism, which involves the production of too much thyroid hormone.

According to Medline Plus, overdosing or long-term use of Synthroid can cause nausea, insomnia, heat sensitivity, and excessive sweating. It may also lead to headaches, temporary hair loss, unintentional weight loss, unstable menstrual cycles, and an increase in appetite.

Consult your doctor as soon as you experience or suspect any side effects, like hyperthyroidism.

Hypothyroidism is a major health concern that should be treated properly and for a life-long period.

The bottom line

As per the reports of a few studies, hypothyroid medications like Synthroid may cause some amount of weight loss. However, overdosing on hypothyroidism medication can cause hyperthyroidism and weight gain.

The rate of metabolism increases with a healthy level of thyroid hormones in your body. It results in an increased rate of calorie burning in your system.

Hypothyroid patients can surely achieve weight loss through appropriate thyroid hormone replacements, low calories diets, regular exercise, and treating other accompanying diseases like diabetes and high cholesterol.

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