FACTS: The thyroid is a large endocrine gland located in the front of your neck. It has two halves that wrap around the windpipe. The endocrine system uses hormones to control body functions. Unlike nerve signals which respond within seconds, hormones have long-lasting effects and can act over hours or months. Hormones, such as those produced by the thyroid gland, travel in your blood to reach every body part.
The thyroid functions to control your body’s rate of metabolism, including maintenance of body weight, the rate of energy use and your heart rate. It does this by producing and releasing hormones. Unlike other endocrine glands, the thyroid can also store the hormones it produces. The thyroid is also unique in that its cells are the only cells in the body that can absorb iodine, found in many foods. The thyroid combines iodine with amino acids to produce the hormones thyroxine and triiodothyronine. Every cell in the body depends upon these hormones for regulation of their metabolism.