There is a long list of symptoms associated with thyroid dysfunction. They range from the common ones like fatigue, sensitivity to the cold, digestive issues, and thinning hair, to the less known ones like diminished reflexes, speech problems, and heart issues. The current list has over 300 symptoms. Thats just crazy! The task of remembering or being aware of these symptoms can be daunting, but something you should be asking your physician about is certain vitamin and mineral levels. Along with everything else, hypothyroidism can cause various vitamin/mineral deficiencies, many of which are vital to the proper functioning of the body.
One vitamin that is highly affected by thyroid dysfunction is Vitamin D, specifically Vitamin D3, also known as cholecalciferol. Vitamin D becomes diminished in individuals that suffer from Graves disease and Hashimotos Thyroiditis. This occurs for a variety of reasons, one of which being that along with autoimmune diseases typically comes other disorders such as gastrointestinal disturbances, inflammation, and VDR polymorphisms (vitamin D receptors polymorphisms) all of which can inhibit the absorption of vitamin D. There have also been studies that suggest the presence of antithyroid antibodies cause a vitamin D decline.
One way to increase your intake of this vitamin is to increase your sun exposure. This may seem like a foreign concept to many due to the bad rap that sun exposure has gotten lately. While it is true that there is always a risk if youre out too long, sun exposure is crucial to vitamin D levels and your overall health. If you feel that you get enough sun, but your levels are still low, or if you prefer to stay out of the sun due to the risk, there is the supplementation option. With this option also comes some confusion. The proper reference range for vitamin D intake has been debated for a long time with the recommended dose ranging greatly. This is still a hot topic amongst researches, but according to the National Institutes of Health1 the range will be anywhere from 400-800IU (international units) per day depending on age and gender.
A mineral that really takes a hit when you have hypothyroidism is iron. The presence of an iron deficiency, also known as anemia, can be extremely problematic and even life threatening if left untreated or poorly treated. Iron is essential for carrying oxygen throughout the body. Thyroid dysfunction, specifically hypothyroidism, can bring about low iron levels because of poor digestive health. In an individual suffering from hypothyroidism the digestive health is far from adequate and can eventually lead to a condition known as hypochlorhydria. This is when the stomach acid levels decrease making it nearly impossible to absorb the proper nutrients from food.
Iron deficiency can also be the initiator of a vicious cycle. While a low functioning thyroid can lead to iron deficiency, iron deficiency can also lead to a low functioning thyroid. So if you are plagued with both, the conditions will continue to get worse. While carrying oxygen throughout the body is a huge job in itself, iron also helps deiodinase activity which is the conversion of the thyroid hormones from T4 to T3. Without this the body would be without the active form of the thyroid hormone.
Increasing your iron levels can be a difficult task especially if you have a thyroid issue. One possible way to increase your levels is through iron-rich foods such as beef, pork, chicken, eggs, beans, and whole grains. You may also benefit from an iron supplement or, if your levels are really low, your doctor may consider iron injections.
Another mineral that has made the list of Most Likely to be Deficient In is magnesium, very important yet highly overlooked mineral. This mineral is responsible for over 300 chemical reactions in the body without which it would cease to function properly. Many of the vitamin/mineral deficiencies already listed have come as a result of thyroid dysfunction, but magnesium is unique in the sense that it can be a cause of thyroid dysfunction. This mineral, like iron, assists in the conversion of the thyroid hormones from T4 to T3 and causes the body to create more of the T4 hormone to convert. In addition, it helps prevent the enlargement of the thyroid gland, also known as goiter.
The increase in magnesium levels can be achieved through food as well as supplementation. For food, the best, magnesium-rich foods include almonds, spinach, bread, nuts, and edamame. If you have a thyroid condition and are aware of the foods you should and should not eat, you probably notice that a few listed would qualify as goitrogens. If you dont feel it is worth the risk, you may want to take the route of supplementation. For magnesium, there are couple different types of supplements and the task of choosing the correct one could be overwhelming. In effort to make it simpler, the two main forms of magnesium supplements are Magnesium Citrate and Magnesium Glycinate. They are similar in effects and both will build your levels, but there is one main and very important difference; Magnesium Citrate is likely to affect your digestive system which may be beneficial if you experience one of the hypothyroid symptoms that many are too embarrassed to talk about: constipation. On the other hand, if this isnt an issue you deal with, you should choose Magnesium Glycinate.
This list hasnt even scratched the surface in regards to the type of deficiencies that one can expect to see with hypothyroidism or thyroid dysfunction in general, but we are hopeful that it gives you some sort of insight and causes you to bring these levels up at your next doctors appointment.