A Deficiency in Vitamin D Can Lead to Hypothyroidism
How Vitamin D Affects Thyroid
Ever feel overwhelmed by all the food that nutritionists and doctors recommend should be eaten and taken to maintain a healthy body? Americans are on a health craze that the media has responded to with a myriad of sometimes conflicting lists of what and what not to eat. With the dozens of magazines and newspapers sport articles written by nutritionists on the latest super-foods that prevent cancer or heart attack, not to mention the nearly nineteen million hits one would find searching “healthy food” on Google, most don’t know where to start.
A Holistic Approach
Why not start with foods that will benefit the whole body, foods that benefit a gland, namely the thyroid, responsible for multiple organ systems? The thyroid produces thyroxine and triiodothyronine, hormones that regulate the rate of metabolism and affect the activity and growth of organs from the brain to the kidneys. It also produces the hormone calcitonin, a polypeptide essential to the maintenance of calcium levels in the blood, the lack of which can result in osteoporosis.
What Foods Will Help Thyroid?
The question is then, what type of diet or natural supplements should be taken to maintain a healthy thyroid gland? Many media outlets claim that overconsumption of goitrogen-containing foods like strawberries, cabbage, and peaches can lead to a decline in normal thyroid function, while intake of carrots, spinach, fish, and other iodine-containing foods help sustain normal thyroid function. Unfortunately, there are no conclusive results on foods that benefit the thyroid. The foods listed above are results of non-rigorous studies that often utilize malnourished animals or humans. The question, however, of whether or not there are foods or exogenous supplements available for the average individual in an industrial nation to preserve normal thyroid function remains.
How about vitamin D?
Vitamin D is known to be produced by the body itself when exposed to sunlight and helps in the absorption of calcium. It does not play a direct role in the production of thyroxine and triiodothyronine, but lack of it increases levels of parathyroid hormone, which can cause osteoporosis. Studies also show that vitamin D is utilized in the brain by the brain-pituitary-thyroid axis, the interactions of which stimulate thyroxine production by the thyroid. In light of vitamin D’s active role in thyroid function, recommended daily doses of vitamin D have risen to 800 IU. Research has also shown that taking other health supplements typically found in drug stores can also aid in the replenishment of deficiencies, so this option should not be disregarded.
In a recent study, patients who have had their thyroid glands removed were either given no treatment, oral calcium alone, or both oral administration of calcium and vitamin D. Those given the combination of calcium and vitamin D exhibited significantly fewer major symptoms often seen in patients who have undergone a total thyroidectomy. The therapy helped in healing and was also responsible for lower rates of hypercalcaemia, low calcium levels in the blood.
So here’s a place to start. Instead of trying to eat all of the foods that target only one specific area, maintain multiple bodily systems by eating vitamin D filled foods including fortified milk, salmon, tuna, and eggs.