It’s old news that low thyroid and inadequate vitamin D levels go hand in hand, but researchers have discovered that the relationship may not be as cut-and-dry as we once thought. Previous notions were that depleted vitamin D levels contributed to the risk of developing low thyroid disorders. This was logical because the majority of low thyroid sufferers are victims of thyroid autoimmunity, which is rooted in disrupted immune function and inflammation– two conditions regulated by vitamin D. In fact, vitamin D has been shown to reduce thyroid antibodies in some studies, but other studies have found that vitamin D was not helpful for improving antibodies in those who are deficient. However, a new study claims that the relationship may go the other way.
Low thyroid hormone levels are getting in the way of your vitamin D status.
This is what you need to know.
1. What Is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a super vitamin and hormone that’s vital to the health of just about every system in the body. Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin when sunlight interacts with cholesterol, so most mammals create enough on their own. However, without year-round access to sunlight (i.e., working indoors or living in Northern climates), humans can easily become deficient. There are very few food sources of vitamin D, so if someone cannot create enough via sunlight, supplementation of D3 is essential. Vitamin D deficiency can slow your health down and is tied to inadequate bone growth, immune dysfunction, neuromuscular problems, blood sugar imbalance, inflammation, and more.
2. How Does Vitamin D Affect Inflammation and Oxidative Stress?
Oxidative stress refers to the balance between reactive oxygen species (ROS) like free radicals and your body’s ability to stabilize those molecules with antioxidants. This is one reason eating high-antioxidant foods like fruits and vegetables can improve your health. When there are too many reactive oxygen species floating around, cell damage and inflammation increase, leading to decreased immune function. Vitamin D isn’t an antioxidant, but it’s essential to reducing oxidative stress because it interferes with the production of ROS. So, when you’re vitamin D deficient, your body may not have the tools it needs to control oxidative stress levels.
3. How Does Low thyroid Affect the Body’s Need for Vitamin D?
Low thyroid levels are linked to inflammation and oxidative stress. Because over 90% of low thyroid cases are due to an autoimmune condition, this is not surprising, as autoimmunity refers to the immune system’s attack of your healthy tissues. This damage produces ROS and inflammation. To make matters worse, low thyroid is also associated with low antioxidant status. This means that in those with low thyroid, more ROS is created and there are fewer antioxidants to neutralize them. So, vitamin D needs to put in long hours working to interrupt ROS production within your cells. If your body requires more vitamin D to manage oxidative stress, it’s no wonder vitamin D levels are depleted.
4. Can Improving Thyroid Hormone Status Improve Vitamin D Levels?
While the common belief has been that increasing vitamin D levels can improve low thyroid symptoms, new research has shown that until thyroid hormone levels are improved, specifically inactive T4, vitamin D status struggles to gain ground.
What Does it All Mean?
Taking a vitamin D supplement may not be enough to get your levels up to par.
However, vitamin D is critical to maintaining health, so it’s essential to ensure that your body has enough of this super hormone to get its work done. If low thyroid hormone is getting in the way of vitamin D status, you’re at increased risk of chronic disease.
The relationship between thyroid, inflammation, immune function and vitamin D is a slippery one and that’s why it’s vital to stay on top of it. For this reason, we make use of comprehensive and advanced testing that allows us to identify your unique imbalances and how they may be getting in the way of your health. We know it’s crucial to pinpoint the distinct roots of your symptoms and support your healing with individualized care. Don’t try to manage this alone, we are here to help you find your optimal well-being.