The thyroid gland
lies against the pharynx at the base of the neck. It consists of two lateral lobes connected by an isthmus. The gland produces thyroxine, a hormone that regulates the rate of metabolism in the body. It also produces a second hormone, calcitonin, which regulates the level of calcium in the blood.
Thyroxine production depends on the availability of iodine. A deficiency of iodine causes thyroid gland enlargement, a condition called goiter. An undersecretion of thyroxine results in a condition known as cretinism (dwarfism with abnormal body proportions and possible mental retardation). In adults, an undersecretion results in myxedema (physical and mental sluggishness). Thyroxine oversecretion results in a high metabolic rate and Graves' disease.