What Are The Best Treatments For Hypothyroidism (Underactive Thyroid)

Hypothyroidism is the term given to the condition where the thyroid is unable to produce enough thyroid hormone, thyroxine, to keep the body healthy. It’s a very common condition in the US, with approximately 1 in 50 women and 1 in 1000 men experiencing problems with their thyroid at some point in their life. It’s a condition that can’t be prevented, with the most common cause being an autoimmune response where the immune system attacks the thyroid, thus preventing it from producing sufficient thyroxine. However, while the condition can’t be prevented or cured, it can be controlled by daily doses of hormone tablets to replace the missing thyroxine.

Synthetic thyroid hormones

The most common treatment for hypothyroidism involves taking tables which contain the synthetic thyroid hormone, Levothyroxine, an oral medication which works to restore optimum hormone levels, and thus reverse the symptoms associated with the condition.

The treatment works relatively quickly with most recipients noticing an improvement in their symptoms within 7 to 14 days, especially in relation to fatigue. Levothyroxine also has the effect of lowering the level of cholesterol in your blood, and may help to reverse any weight gain that you may be experiencing. You will need to take this hormone replacement treatment for the rest of your life, however your doctor is likely to make annual checks of your thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels in order to ensure that you are on the correct dosage.

Ensuring the correct nutrition

Many alternative practitioners believe that poor nutrition may the cause of many thyroid issues, including hypothyroidism, and suggest that a diet rich in nutrients is vital to reverse the effects or to at least prevent any further decline in thyroid function. As a healthy thyroid depends on a range of nutrients, in particular iodine, selenium and folic acid, it makes sense to eat a diet which is rich foods which contain these. However, most people are unable to get enough of these nutrients through diet alone, so supplements are often needed. You should also add foods which are naturally high in B vitamins, including whole grains, nuts and seeds, and iodine containing foods, such as fish, seaweed, vegetables and all kinds of root vegetables.

If you do suffer from hypothyroidism, always consult your physician before taking any supplements, as excesses of certain substances can have just as detrimental effect on the thyroid as a deficiency. To avoid such a detrimental effect you need to take every possible precaution. Consulting your physician is one such precaution and this advice must not be taken lightly.

Thyroid Condition Diagnosis And Treatment

One of the biggest obstacles to proper diagnosing thyroid problems is that the symptoms mimic those of so many other common conditions. For example you may think that the weight loss may be due to your increasingly sedentary lifestyle or that the increasing fatigue or irritability you are experiencing is because you are feeling extremely stressed due to being overworked either in the workplace or even at home. However, sudden weight gain or weight loss, irritability, fatigue and muscle weakness are all also signs of thyroid conditions.

To best way to ascertain the root cause of the unusual symptoms you are experiencing is by going to your doctor and getting a thorough checkup.

Common Diagnostic Methods

In order to diagnose whether or not you have any problems with the gland, your doctor will focus on cardiac, neurologic, skin and vision findings. This is done using different types of tests and scans depending on the results of the initial findings.
The first test that is usually done is the TSH or thyroid- stimulating hormone test, which calculates the amount of hormones in the blood. Excessive amounts of hormones indicates that the problem is due to over-production whereas lower than normal amounts indicates that the gland is not producing enough hormones.

Other blood tests may include the Free T4, TSH receptor antibody or TSI and the Antithyroid antibody tests.

In addition to blood tests, your doctor may also do a nuclear thyroid scan by injecting or asking you to swallow a minuscule amount of radioactive iodine. An increase or decrease in iodine update could be an indication of hyper or hypo thyroidism.

Thyroid ultrasound is another exam that helps to determine the number, size and types of nodules that are present in the gland.

Fine-needle aspiration is another testing procedure, in which the doctor obtains a sample of issue using a fine needle. This is usually done using an ultrasound as guidance. The tissue that is obtained is then under a microscope to detect any signs of cancer.

Effective Treatment Options

There are no home treatments for this condition as most of the underlying factors are beyond the scope of home care. You must go to a doctor to get a proper medical evaluation and treatment.

Some of the more common non-invasive treatment options may include medication and treatment using radioactive iodide. In most cases, both of these treatment methods are very effective in suppressing or even completely halting the production of hormones. Sometimes, however, when more aggressive methods are required, the doctor may recommend surgery.

Tips for Exercising With Hypothyroidism

Choose the right time of the day – morning is usually the best time to exercise for most people. But with hypothyroidism, this may not be the best time for you. You will likely wake up already feeling exhausted.

Exercise can be a great treatment for hypothyroidism, but you must determine when you are most energetic and exercise at this time. This may be in the evening, in the afternoon, or late in the morning.

And if fatigue continues to be a problem, then you must focus on undemanding exercises like yoga or walking.

Build muscle – this may be the last thing on your exercising to-do list. But building muscle is important in many ways. Not only will you be strong, but having more muscle has been proven to burn more fat by increasing metabolism, even when you are at rest.

There are lots of exercises you can use to build muscle. If you would like to do them at home, then you can buy free weights to use. Alternatively, you can build muscle with strength training exercises. These include pushups, lunges, leg raises, and squats. If these aren’t for you, then visit any nearby gym; you will find a good selection of equipment aimed at building muscle.

Get motivated to exercise – when just getting started with exercise, you will likely be very motivated. You will see yourself exercising every day. However, it does not take long before all this motivation disappears. And you may soon find yourself sedentary.

But there are lots of tricks you can use to keep your motivation. One of them is by listening to music while you exercise. This makes the workout fun and it distracts you so you don’t pay attention to your exhaustion.

Secondly, you can also try working out with friends. Just make sure that your goals are not broadly different. This will ensure that you do the same exercises most of the times.

Create fitness goals – it is pointless to start exercising without first having a goal; you won’t know what you would like to gain in the end. And chances of losing your motivation are high.

Are you trying to lose weight? Do you want to build muscle? Whatever it is that you want, make sure that it’s specific. And it helps to write it down so you can look at it at least once a day.

Don’t do the same exercise every day – the body can easily adapt to exercises. And when this happens, you stop making gains and exercises become less taxing. If possible, try to do a different exercise every time. If this is not an option, then keep altering the exercise you do; for example, if you only walk, you may try walking for 30 minutes today, 45 minutes tomorrow, and 35 minutes the day after while carrying a bag.

Easy Ways To Manage Stress For Thyroid Health

The stress response is regulated by the adrenal glands. These are walnut-shaped and can be found on top of the kidneys. They release stress hormones into the blood whenever we find ourselves in stressful situations. Such stressful situations may be to do with finance, relationships, work, and being stuck in traffic.

Some stress, specifically called acute stress, is fine. It helps us get away or protect ourselves from danger. And the body has no trouble dealing with this. Chronic stress is the one that’s detrimental to health. Our bodies were not made to cope with high levels of stress for long periods of times. Studies indicate that over 30% of the population faces extreme stress.

One of the most notable ways that stress affects thyroid health is by depressing the HPA axis (hypothalamic pituitary adrenal). This is connected to the production of thyroid hormones. In addition to this problem, stress hormones disrupt the convention of T4 to T3. And this leaves the body with insufficient T3, worsening the signs of hypothyroidism.

Stress hormones have also been found to weaken immune barriers. As such, foreign elements enter into parts of the body they are not supposed to. And this, in turn, causes autoimmune reactions.

This stress can cause an inflammatory response, which may trigger an underactive thyroid. Therefore it is important to manage stress to reduce your chances of hypothyroidism or other thyroid disorders.

Thankfully, there are lots of ways on how you can deal with stress. And we will talk about these here:

Adopt a good diet – some of the stress is because of the food we eat. So following a good diet is a good starting point. The diet I recommended in Chapter 2 should help you avoid most of the foods that stress the body. This particularly refers to sugar.

You must also avoid stimulants. Examples of these include alcohol, caffeine, and drugs.

Relax – our gigantic schedules usually leave us too exhausted to do anything else by the time the day ends. And this is bad since we all need some time to relax. The body cannot be healthy if it is being put in a state of high-productivity at all times. You will burn out in the end.

There are lots of options as to how you can relax. Meditation is one good example.

If you just need something simple, then you can try breathing exercises. Inhale while counting to 4, hold your breath for 7 seconds and then release it for 8 seconds through your mouth. Do this for at least 10 minutes.

Another great way to relax is to take walks in forests. Nature has healing capabilities. You can also watch the sun rise or set. Both these actions will provide relief from stress.

Sleep – Some boast about sleeping for less as if it’s a sign of strength. But this is simply a lack of knowledge. Whether you have hypothyroidism or are as healthy as the sun, you need to get adequate sleep every night. Studies have shown that sleep reduces stress, helps the body restore hormone imbalances, and strengthens the immune system. It is recommended that you sleep for at least 6 hours 30 minutes every day. But do not let this be over 8 hours. That will be unhealthy.

Also, the quality of your sleep matters. If you keep waking up, that is not quality sleep. Be sure to avoid caffeine in the hours before sleep. Also, avoid using phones or computers 2 hours before sleep: light from these devices can make falling asleep difficult.

Make sure that your room is dark and of the right temperature. Furthermore, create a regular sleep schedule by going to bed at the same time every day.

Laugh and have fun – make time to meet up with your friends to socialize. This can lower your stress and boost your mood. It’s why most of us feel so energetic after a good time with friends.

Also, as a way of having fun, make sure that you enjoy your hobbies. If you love hiking, then make time for it.

Keep a journal – although many think of writing in a journal as useless, several studies have shown that it has so many benefits. Among those are its healing capabilities. Writing things down helps reduce stress. And this, in turn, leads to better health.

You can write in a notebook or you can use any of the available journaling apps.

Take adrenal adaptogens – these can help keep your stress levels in check. Examples include licorice, ginseng, and ashwagandha.

Get support – you can talk to experts about your problem. And this is one of the best ways to deal with stress.

Remove the stressor – while all these tips are aimed at lowering stress, your real quest should be to find the thing that is stressing you and remove it from your life. All problems are best dealt with from the root. That is the only way you will be guaranteed of successful results.

Hope this helped you!

Can You Treat Thyroid Disorders Naturally?

Thyroid disorders often negatively impact a patient’s quality of life. They can affect a patient’s energy level, mood, weight, digestive system, libido, sleep cycle, and more. Besides that, conventional treatment protocols often include prolonged use of synthetic medications or even surgery, in certain cases. It’s not surprising many patients with thyroid disorders look for natural alternatives.

The most common forms of thyroid disorders are primary hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and Graves’ disease. Unfortunately, the medical community is often clearly divided between two schools of thought on health and disease: the medical model or the alternative model.

The Medical Model
In the medical model, doctors focus on analyzing symptoms and then narrowing the possibilities until they come up with a diagnosis. The physician then follows a set treatment protocol to treat the ailment. Treatment often includes medication.

The standard treatment protocol for hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is hormone replacement therapy. The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists recommends synthetic T4 levothyroxine for clinical hypothyroidism to restore the thyroid stimulating hormone to normal levels.

In Grave’s disease, the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. The standard treatment protocol includes thyroid-suppressing drugs or surgery to remove the thyroid. Many physicians in the United States prefer to use radioactive iodine as first-line therapy.

The Alternative Model
Unfortunately, the alternative model is often thrown into one large heap, when multiple models actually exist within it. These include naturopathy, acupuncture, herbalism, and functional medicine. This article focuses on the functional medicine approach to thyroid disorders.

Functional Medicine
In the functional model, the practitioner examines all aspects of a person’s health. They look for the root cause of a problem, instead of treating the symptoms. For instance, many possible causes exist if a person suffers from depression. One person may have a blood sugar imbalance, while another might have mineral deficiency. It doesn’t make sense to treat all depression in the same manner, if the root cause differs.

Some alternative models use similar paradigms. For example, herbal practitioners might recommend St John’s Wart for a patient with certain types of depression once they understand the underlying cause.

I feel this model draws on the wisdom of other alternative disciplines and blends it with the scientific data collected from functional lab tests. It also engages the patient in a therapeutic partnership where they actively participate in their well-being, important for recovery.

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis & Graves’ Disease
In Hashimoto’s and Grave’s disease, the functional approach seeks sources of stress on the immune system. Grave’s and Hashimoto’s are autoimmune disorders, and not really thyroid issues at all. Thyroid dysfunction is just a symptom of the underlying cause: a dysfunctional immune system.

Autoimmunity develops for many reasons. Again, each person is unique and requires specialized tests and treatments depending on the underlying cause. For example, if a person has a condition called “leaky gut syndrome” it may result in undigested food particles in the bloodstream and cause an immune response.

Food allergies or food sensitivities may also cause an immune system reaction. When you continue to eat troublesome foods it may eventually lead to an autoimmune condition.

Since these thyroid problems can have many underlying causes, we cannot define a standard treatment protocol or a standard of care for thyroid conditions. Regrettably, the multiple factors that contribute to these diseases also make it very difficult to self-treat.

How Can Functional Medicine Assist You?
Understanding the underlying influences which affect the thyroid requires some knowledge of physiology and an ability to interpret functional lab tests. A skilled practitioner can provide proper care, and correct the immune system dysfunction which brought about your diagnosis in the first place.

Of course, restoring full function depends on whether you still have your thyroid and its condition if you do. If you do not have a thyroid gland, or it is badly damaged, you will need medication to support thyroid function.

Nonetheless, the functional approach can assist patients when they do not process medications efficiently and correctly. Physicians usually prescribe a synthetic version of T4 thyroid hormone, but it is less physiologically active than T3. Consequently, your body needs to convert it, but some people cannot convert it well.

Other patients convert T4 to Reverse T3, instead of T3. Reverse T3 does not assist the thyroid. Fortunately, I can address both these problems through functional medicine so you get the most benefits from your medication and the most relief.

Experience taught me the medical model does have its place. It can assist patients so they can manage symptoms and it can provide a diagnosis for thyroid problems.

Nonetheless, it does not address the root of the problem. A functional model delves into the underlying causes to prevent further issues and reverse existing problems, instead of treating symptoms.

Naturally, I look forward to a time when the medical and functional models blend for seamless, effective patient care. Both have many benefits, but together they could provide targeted, streamlined care, and recovery.

Never Ignore These Vital Thyroid Symptoms

The thyroid is one of the many gland of the body that performs some of the most important functions of the human system. Nestled at the tip of the neck, the thyroid gland produces essential hormones, which help in smooth brain activity and metabolism. Thyroid symptoms are often an indication of the presence of a problem in the gland. While most of them are quite vague and similar to symptoms of many other conditions and diseases, it’s best not to ignore them as a sign of a thyroid problem. Pay a visit to an endocrinologist and let them test you for a plausible thyroid condition.

Signs and Symptoms of a Thyroid Problem

Below are some common thyroid symptoms you must not ignore:-

  • Witnessing fatigue even after sleeping for about 8 to 10 hours at a stretch or a need to take a nap every day.
  • Unintentionally gaining weight or finding it difficult to lose weight.
  • Experiencing extreme mood swings, anxiety or a condition of depression.
  • Facing hormonal imbalances such as irregular periods, PMS, infertility and even lower sex drive.
  • Pain in the muscles, the joints, carpal tunnel syndrome, or tendonitis.
  • Having cold feet and hands, and feeling unusually cold, even when others are not.
  • A body temperature that’s consistently below 98.5 F.
  • Drying or cracking of the skin, having brittle nails and experiencing excessive hair loss.
  • Constant constipation.
  • Brain fogging, or unable to concentrate properly.
  • Swelling in the neck, snoring more than often or developing a hoarse voice.

Type of Thyroid ProblemsTypically, there are two types of thyroid problems – hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.

Hyperthyroidism is a condition wherein the gland produces excessive amount of hormones which cause the onset of many internal problems. A hyper active thyroid often leads to excessive TSH secretion in the blood stream, Grave’s disease, and the formation of nodules in the gland. Hypothyroidism, on the other hand, is a condition wherein the thyroid causes less production of essential hormones, which further hampers the proper functionality of many related organs. Both the conditions are dangerous for the human system and hence, maintenance of the health of the thyroid gland is important.

Tests Related to Thyroid Problem

There are a couple of tests that are associated with the diagnosis of proper functionality, and production and release of the essential hormones in the bloodstream. These are as follows:-

  • TSH Test
  • Free T3 and T4 Test
  • Reverse T3 Test
  • Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies Test (TPOAb)
  • Thyroglobulin Antibodies Test (TgAb)

Basis the result of these tests, a legitimate thyroid problem treatment is formulated by the endocrinologist. The sooner you get treated for a thyroid related treatment, the better is the outcome.

The author is a senior writer who works with a renowned medical centre. He is well aware of various infection, conditions, and diseases that surround us, what are their implications, tests and how to effectively can they be treated. Him latest detailed analysis of Bone Marrow Test and thyroid Problem Treatment were highly appreciated.

How Reverse T3 Affects Thyroid Under Conversion

Over forty thyroid dysfunctions exist. The medical community divides these dysfunctions into 6 major patterns: 1) Primary hypothyroidism, 2) hypothyroid due to hypo pituitary, 3) thyroid under conversion, 4) thyroid over conversion, 5) thyroid binding globulin elevation, and 6) thyroid hormone resistance. This article focuses on the third – thyroid under conversion.

Thyroid Under Conversion

Normally, the thyroid gland converts iodine found in food into thyroid hormones. Thyroxine (T4) is the primary hormone made by the thyroid gland, but your body needs to transform it into triiodothyronine (T3) to use it. Some patient’s thyroid gland does not handle these conversions properly and effectively.

Multiple factors can cause under conversion in the thyroid, but a principal cause is the production of Reverse T3, instead of T3. Your body cannot use RT3, and RT3 does not revert to the usable form T3 either.

The Reverse T3 the thyroid produces basically wastes the T4 thyroid hormone. Since the hormones produced by the thyroid affect metabolic rate, they influence many parts of your body including your brain, heart, muscles, and liver. It’s not surprising that many patients with thyroid autoimmune disorders also have high levels of Reverse T3.

What Causes Thyroid Under Conversion?

Tests exist to identify when a person’s thyroid under converts T4, but functional medicine seeks the underlying cause.

Many factors can affect thyroid under conversion, but I have found stress plays a primary role in most patients. Stress comes in many forms, not just the obvious sources such as a demanding job or a strained relationship. Excessive dieting, food sensitivities, and allergies can all stress the body too.

Some patients have leaky gut syndrome which allows foreign substances to enter the bloodstream to stress the body. Other patient’s bodies feel the stress of exposure to heavy metals, pesticides, and food additives.

All forms of stress cause the adrenal glands to produce cortisol. Normally, stress dissipates and cortisol levels return to normal. However, constant high cortisol levels inhibit the conversion of T4 to T3, and increase the production of RT3.

How We Detect The Problem

A TSH blood test is the most commonly used tool to evaluate thyroid function and/or symptoms of a thyroid disorder. Thyroid stimulating hormone causes the thyroid gland to make T4 and T3. While this test may indicate there’s a problem, it doesn’t look at hormone balance.

Functional medicine strives for optimal hormone balance, so measuring other factors such as Reverse T3, total T3, T3 uptake, and T4 are also essential in the diagnosis and management of an underactive thyroid.

A Reverse T3 blood test in your thyroid panel determines whether you have high Reverse T3. Elevated RT3 levels may indicate additional problems, even when other values in the TSH may be within normal ranges.

How To Treat High Reverse T3

The conventional medical model usually treats thyroid problems with prescribed T4 to bring the thyroid stimulating hormone back to normal levels. Some practitioners look beyond the TSH blood test and when they see low T3 levels they prescribe more T3 instead.

Unfortunately, neither of these treatments used in the medical model address the various thyroid dysfunctions, let alone the 6 major patterns. However, functional medicine does.

Medical & Functional Models

The medical model focuses on naming the condition (diagnosis) and treating the condition with medications or surgery. Functional doctors want to know why a person’s thyroid behaves that way. We do not treat the symptoms, because they can have many causes.

For instance, I might have 7 patients with an autoimmune thyroid condition such as Grave’s syndrome or Hashimoto’s disease, but with 7 different causes. I mentioned stress is a major cause of reverse T3, but it can affect the body in various ways.

For instance, bacterial dysbiosis (imbalance) in the gut can prevent fat digestion and cause blood sugar problems. This causes liver problems, adrenal stress, excess cortisol, and increased RT3. Liver issues may also prevent the conversion of T4 to T3.

As you can see, it is important we look at more than just the results of the TSH blood test. Simply changing medication will not address the root cause of dysfunction. We cannot examine the interconnected systems within your body independently if we want to understand the root cause of dysfunction.

The medical model of care relies on specialists. One looks at the thyroid, another examines the endocrine system, and yet another looks at the digestive system. Unfortunately, specialization may blind us to what is happening throughout the body. Specialists focus on a single piece of the puzzle, but they may never see the complete picture.

Functional Model for Thyroid Disorders

If you have a thyroid condition it is important you look to the functional model for care, especially if you have a thyroid autoimmune disorder such as Hashimoto’s or Graves. I believe the medical model works well for diagnosis and treating symptoms, but we also need to work with functional-based care to access the root cause and restore health.

I want to stress thyroid problems are nothing to play around with. If your doctor prescribed medication, don’t stop taking it just because you read this article. You will need to work with a trained functional medicine provider to address the underlying issues so they can help you restore thyroid function before reducing medication.

In some cases the thyroid may not regain full function, and you will need ongoing medication. Your functional and medical doctor can work as a team to restore your health. It needn’t be one or the other, but a powerful combination of the two instead.

9 Hyperthyroidism Symptoms You Must Know About

A vital part of the endocrine system, the thyroid aids in the production of many important hormones and proper functionality of the human system. Butterfly-shaped, the gland smartly sits just above the collarbone, in the neck. There are a number plausible thyroid diseases and disorders that can affect the normal working of the gland.

Two most common disorders include hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. The former marks a condition wherein the gland over produces thyroid hormones against amounts needed. The latter on the other hand, is a condition wherein the gland fails to make sufficient quantities of needed hormones. Understanding hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism symptoms is a good way of diagnosing the problem.

Though hypothyroidism is more common that its counterpart, but knowing about hyperthyroidism symptoms is equally important.

Common hyperthyroidism symptoms

Sleeping Disorder and Fatigue – People with hyperthyroidism find it difficult to fall asleep too easily, and hence, feel more tired and exhausted. An overactive thyroid triggers insomnia due to restlessness and anxiety, and makes sleeping hard.

Weight Loss – One of the major hyperthyroidism symptoms is weight loss. No matter if a person eats his/her normal diet or more than usual, with hyperthyroidism constantly loses weight.

Mood swings and Mental Changes – In hyperthyroidism, a person is more likely to experience anxiety and panic attacks – typically feel he/she cannot relax at all. Also, the presence of excess quantities of thyroid hormone in the bloodstream causes difficulty in concentrating.

Muscle Pain – The condition is known to cause a variety of joint and muscle problems, typically including firmly holding objects, reaching arms above the heads and even climbing stairs.

Irregular Periods and Infertility – Those who experience infrequent, shorter, and lighter periods are likely to suffer from infertility problems. Having regular and normal periods is very important.

Skin Changes and Hair Loss – The condition of hyperthyroid can cause hair loss usually on the head and even lead to thin, fragile skin.

Cholesterol Levels – With this disorder most people are likely to experience unusually low cholesterol levels.

Blood Pressure Levels – In the event of the presence of hyperthyroidism condition, the systolic, upper value of blood pressure reading rises, while the diastolic or the lower reading remains constant or goes down.

Heart Rate – The heart beats faster than usual and a person is likely to experience heart flutters or palpitation. Immediate care is recommended.

Besides these, excess consumption of alcohol, regular smoking, lethargic lifestyle and an imbalanced diet make for some causes of hyperthyroidism, which lead to surfacing of these, above listed symptoms.

The author is a senior writer who works with a renowned medical centre.He is well versed with various types of infections, diseases, and conditions that surround us, what are their implications, tests, and how to effectively can they be treated. Here, in this blog, He focuses on enlightening everyone about the hyperthyroidism symptoms. Hyperthyroidism is a chronic condition most common amid women.

How Vitamin D Affects Thyroid Conditions

Vitamin D is well-known for its importance in managing calcium in the gut, bones, and blood and disease resistance. However, many studies now show vitamin D levels affect may be a contributing factor in many other health issues too.

Researchers now believe it plays a crucial role in how cells communicate. Clinical studies link abnormal vitamin D levels to colon, prostate, and breast cancer as well as heart disease, weight gain, and thyroid conditions.

Vitamin D Production

Vitamin D is unique compared to other vitamins, because it is nearly impossible to get what you need from food. Instead, your body produces it naturally in the skin when you’re exposed to natural or artificial UVB light.

Once your body produces vitamin D or you take it as a supplement, it’s sent to the liver. The liver transforms vitamin D into 25(OH)D and sends it various areas of the body and activates it. Once activated, it is ready to perform its duties.

Autoimmune Conditions

Autoimmunity occurs when the immune system treats a person’s healthy tissues and cells as a threat. When this happens, their body produces an immune response and attacks. This response can cause damage, inflammation, and chronic pain in many parts of the body.

Vitamin D deficiencies may reduce the body’s ability to fight infection and may link to or cause autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Grave’s Disease.

Clinical Studies

Several 2014 studies presented at the annual meeting of the Thyroid Association are of special interest. Researchers from Nanjing, China evaluated 34 patients with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and 32 with Grave’s Disease against 52 healthy patients. Researchers measured many thyroid-related factors including vitamin D3.

Vitamin D is actually a group of compounds classified vitamin D1, D2, and D3. Vitamin D3 is the naturally occurring form of the vitamin, and the most biologically active.

Researchers found patients with autoimmune thyroid disease had significantly lower vitamin D3 levels than the healthy controls. Patients with high thyroid peroxidase antibodies the body produces in thyroid autoimmune disease also had lower vitamin D levels. This suggests vitamin D insufficiency could link to or cause autoimmune thyroid disease.

Brazilian researchers studied 54 Hashimoto’s patients, compared to 54 healthy controls. They also found vitamin D deficiency in 63.2% of the patients. Those with low vitamin D levels also had higher thyroid-stimulating hormone levels and a larger thyroid.

Lack of Vitamin D

Normally, the skin produces sufficient vitamin D when exposed to adequate UV light. However, the risks of skin cancer or melanoma now mean many people use sunscreen and cover their bodies. We also spend more time indoors for work and entertainment.

Since more clinical tests show a link between vitamin D and thyroid function, many physicians now recommend vitamin D testing as part of thyroid evaluation and care. Nonetheless, functional practitioners and doctors following the medical model may treat you differently based on your results.

Medical Model vs Functional Model

The medical model recommends 400 International Units per day of vitamin D. They also define a sufficient serum 25(OH)D level as over 50 nmol/L as it “covers the needs of 97.5% of the population”. The test used to measure vitamin D levels in the 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test.

The medical model usually recommends supplementation to increase low vitamin D levels. However, the functional approach to care recognizes multiple reasons may cause low vitamin D levels. Consequently, recommending supplements before looking at overall health and other possible issues can be ineffective and counterproductive.

Supplements don’t always correct low vitamin D levels, because they do not address underlying problems. The vitamin D receptor in some autoimmune patients cannot activate due to variations in their DNA sequence. Consequently, they need higher than normal blood levels of vitamin D to avoid vitamin D insufficiency.

Vitamin D is fat soluble, and some patients with thyroid issues like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis have low stomach acid and poor fat absorption. Autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Grave’s disease also make the immune system work overtime, which depletes the body’s stores of vitamin D. Therefore, addressing gut and digestive issues and modulating the immune system are of primary importance before considering vitamin D supplementation.

A highly qualified functional practitioner will look at your gut and digestive health and if they’re satisfied, they may order a 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test for your vitamin D levels.

Your practitioner may recommend supplementation to reach between 60 and 80 nmol/L. This is still well below the 125 nmol/L threshold where a patient might experience adverse effects. After several months, they’ll retest. If their serum level rose to an acceptable level, the doctor will adjust vitamin D intake so serum levels stay between 50 and 60 nmol/L.

Vitamin D insufficiency is just one factor that can contribute to thyroid problems, so self-supplementation is not recommended as it can be ineffective if underlying problems remain. Discuss your thyroid issues with a functional practitioner to develop an effective treatment protocol.

Do Goitrogenic Foods Negatively Affect Thyroid Health?

Goitrogens are compounds found naturally in certain plants. Animal studies suggest these foods may interfere with uptake of iodine, essential to thyroid function.

Without sufficient iodine, the pituitary releases thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and promotes the growth of thyroid tissue, which eventually leads to enlargement of the gland, or goiter. If the goiter grows large, it can interfere with the trachea and esophagus and cause coughing or swallowing and breathing difficulties. However, any substance that interferes with thyroid function is a concern for patients with thyroid autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease who already struggle with thyroid hormone production.

Which Plants Are Goitrogenic?
Several animal studies show the following raw cruciferous vegetables affect iodine intake and thyroid metabolism:

· Bamboo shoots

· Bok Choy

· Brassicae seeds

· Broccoli

· Brussel sprouts

· Cabbage

· Cassava

· Cauliflower

· Kale

· Kohlrabi

· Mustard and Mustard greens

· Peaches

· Radishes

· Rutabagas

· Soy & soybean products

· Spinach

· Strawberries

· Turnips

What Does This Mean For Thyroid Patients?
You probably read this list and thought, “Why can’t I eat these foods when they’re supposed to be good for me?” and justifiably so. After all, many of these foods are high in vital nutrients essential for good health.

The limited research done so far does not suggest eating reasonable amounts of these foods inhibits thyroid activity. However, a diet that heavily relies on goitrogenic foods might negatively affect patients with thyroid autoimmune disorders.

A tailored diet for optimal thyroid function makes more sense, rather than a broad elimination of all these foods. At this point, not one human study confirms cruciferous vegetables cause thyroid function deficiency.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s research spanning fifty years suggests it not that these are “bad” foods. They may not be the right foods for particular people. He states “cruciferous vegetables could only be detrimental to thyroid function in cases of iodine deficiency or insufficient iodine intake”, and may not cause problems at all if consumed in reasonable amounts.

How Much Can I Eat?
Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to this questions since every patient differs. However, within the functional model of care it is possible to work with your practitioner to discover what works best for you.

Generally, most patients with thyroid conditions can tolerate one or two servings of raw goitrogenic foods every day without any problems. Others may need to steam their vegetables to reduce goitrogenic activity.

If a patient wants to include soy in their diet fermented soy is preferable, however some evidence suggests soy and soybean products may interfere with the absorption of thyroid medication in hypothyroid patients. Patients should not rely heavily on soy in their diet as it is goitrogenic.

Eating a few servings of these foods daily shouldn’t be a problem, even if you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or Graves’ disease. However, they do affect iodine metabolism and if you already have an iodine deficiency it does increase risk.

Even though cooking these foods may decrease the goitrogenic activity, avoid eating too many of these foods. Discuss your concerns with your practitioner and work with them to create a diet plan that works best for you.