Role of Vitamin Deficiency and Thyroid Disorders
We all know that we should eat the right foods in order to obtain all the necessary vitamins, minerals and nutrients to achieve and maintain optimal health and well-being. But did you know…
Lack of certain vitamins and minerals can actually lead to thyroid deficiency and if you have thyroid deficiency, the vitamins you are consuming aren’t being absorbed and utilized properly. It’s important that we all make sure to get adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals, either by eating plenty of nutrient-dense foods containing or by using quality supplements in addition to a healthy diet. Let’s face it, most people these days lead very busy lives. While eating healthy all the time can prove challenging, by committing to an 80/20 philosophy (80% clean / 20% less clean), you’re setting yourself up for a healthier mind, body (internally and externally) and spirit. Your mood has the potential to literally shift with simple upgrades to your plate – go figure! I see it often – people skip meals to lose weight without realizing that this can cause problems for their entire endocrine system (hormones, thyroid, adrenal glands). Unfortunately, this also often leads to weight gain because your body begins to store fat to use for energy and since it doesn’t know when it will get it’s next “fix” of healthy and nutritious food, it holds on to whatever it can to keep you going with your everyday life. Lack of protein in a vegetarian or vegan diet of a thyroid deficient person may also cause problems. That’s not to say that these ways of eating are bad – not at all! But often people do vegetarian or vegan incorrectly and because of this, lack the proper amount of protein to support the needs of the thyroid and other body systems. Checking for vitamin and mineral deficiencies is not common in Western Medicine, but it’s a really easy tool to determine what your individual needs are. You might be surprised to find that you are deficient in quite a few important vitamins! Here are some common vitamin (mineral) deficiencies especially found in thyroid issues. Seek testing from a Functional Medicine Practitioner or Naturopath that understands the importance of having these in balance for overall health and optimal body functions.
Vitamin A (not carotene)
Thyroid hormone plays a role in the conversion of beta-carotene to vitamin A. As a result, it is common for people with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis to be deficient in vitamin A. Perhaps this also explains why so many people have problems converting beta-carotene to vitamin A, although this problem does occur in people who don’t have hypothyroid conditions. Since vitamin A is very important for optimal eye health, some people with thyroid eye disease have asked me whether taking vitamin A can help with their condition. My experience is that vitamin A by itself won’t help too much with most cases of thyroid eye disease, and the reason for this is because the eye problem is usually caused by the autoimmune response. While vitamin A supplementation probably won’t cure thyroid eye disease, since this vitamin is important for both eye health and immune system health, it definitely won’t hurt for people with this condition to supplement with vitamin A as part of their natural treatment protocol.
All the B vitamins are vital for good thyroid function, but each plays its own important role in the body. Check out this post for a detailed description of the role of each of the 8 B vitamins – B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12. A note regarding B vitamins: Testing for the MTHFR gene is a good idea, as it’s estimated that upwards of 50% of the population have at least 1 of the genetic mutations present, making absorption of certain vitamins – including B’s – nearly impossible without taking the proper form and combination.
The thyroid needs this vital vitamin to stay healthy. Long-term deficiency causes the thyroid gland to secrete too much hormone. People with an overactive thyroid often need extra Vitamin C, as this is actually drained from the tissues in their bodies.
It has been found that when people with an overactive thyroid take this vitamin, it counteracts the usual rapid excretion of calcium and osteoporosis can be avoided. A large majority of the population tend to be deficient in this vitamin, even in sunny climates! Supplementation is a great idea for many people and testing to see where your levels are is as simple as a vial of blood from your GP.
Again, lack of this vitamin encourages the thyroid gland to secrete too much hormone, as well as too little TSH by the pituitary gland. A higher intake of this vitamin is often needed by people with an overactive thyroid to counteract the large amounts of the vitamin depleted from the system. As with anything, consult your doctor as some believe that supplementing with vitamin E should be avoided in cases of autoimmunity.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. This mineral also helps the body maintain healthy blood vessels, regulate blood pressure, and even prevent insulin resistance (which could lead to Type 2 diabetes). Most people consume too little calcium. Contrary to old beliefs, dairy products are not necessarily the best source either. White beans, sardines, dried figs, bok choy, blackstrap molasses, kale, almonds, oranges and sesame seeds are all great NON-DAIRY options.
It’s estimated that 80% of the population are deficient in this mineral, which is so important to numerous functions in your body, including sleep, stress and you guessed it, optimal thyroid function.
This is a crucial component of the enzyme that converts T4 to T3 in the body. Without it, T3 cannot be produced in the right amounts and organs will function as if they were hypothyroid (underactive) even though blood test levels are normal.
Research has shown that both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism result in zinc deficiency. It also plays a role in the functioning of the immune system. Low zinc levels have been found in obese people. Zinc is needed to convert T4 into T3, so this mineral is a must.