Vitamin D Importance for Thyroid and other Autoimmune

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If you’ve been diagnosed with a thyroid disorder or an autoimmune disorder, two things are for certain: treatment isn’t an option and you need to have adequate levels of vitamin D.

Vitamin D has always been known for its impact in sustaining normal levels of calcium and phosphorus. As children we’re told to drink our milk for strong bones and teeth. Recently, research has shown that vitamin D has an impact in many other medical conditions. These include:
• Many types of Cancer including breast, ovarian, prostate, kidney, colon, endometrial, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
• Diabetes, specifically Type 1
• Asthma
• Bone fractures/osteoporosis
• Complications arriving during pregnancy
• High blood pressure (HBP)
• Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
• Cardiovascular disease

Here are a few facts you might not know about Vitamin D
• Vitamin D is actually a fat-soluble steroid hormone precursor, not actually a vitamin. Your body’s source for vitamin D is naturally from sun exposure or by taking vitamin supplements. Vitamin D can be found in certain foods we eat, but only is small amounts.
• Your liver works to convert the vitamin D you take in your body into a substance called 25(OH)D. It is important that you get your vitamin D level checked regularly. It is measured on a scale of 30-100 ng/ml. If it falls below 30, it is considered deficient. The test is called a 25-hydroxy D lab test and it’s recommended every 3-6 months and at least once a year.
• While everyone agrees below 30 is low, there are varied opinions for the optimal level. The Vitamin D Council believes that 50 ng/ml is ideal with a range of 40-80 ng/ml.

If you have been diagnosed with a thyroid or other autoimmune disorder, treating a vitamin D deficiency isn’t always as easy as taking a vitamin or going to the beach and soaking up sun. Research has found an assortment of mechanisms that decrease the absorption, production, and biologic activity of vitamin D throughout the body. Here are a few important things to remember:
• One condition extremely common in those with low thyroid function is a leaky gut and inflamed GI tract. Since vitamin D is absorbed in the small intestine it can reduce the absorption of vitamin D. That’s why testing regularly is important if you have this condition.
• Stress and/or certain medications such as steroids can cause high cortisol levels which have been linked with lower vitamin D levels. Stress hormones are made by cholesterol as well. When the body is under stressful situations, most of the cholesterol is used to make cortisol. Since the synthesis of active vitamin D depends on cholesterol, when most of it goes to cortisol production, there isn’t much left to produce vitamin D.
• Even though weight loss is difficult with low thyroid function, it is important to know that obesity reduces the biologic activity of vitamin D. When people are obese, they will have lower serum levels of vitamin D because it gets taken up by fat cells.
• Although you probably think of eating fat as bad, some fats are good for you. Not eating enough fat or digesting it properly can reduce absorption of vitamin D as well. If you are on a low-fat diet or have any condition that impairs fat absorption such as IBS, IBD, liver disease or gall bladder disease, you are more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency.
• Many commonly prescribed drugs can reduce absorption and/or biologic activity of vitamin D. These include antacids, replacement hormones, anticoagulants, blood thinners, and corticosteroid.
• The conversion of sunlight to vitamin D can be reduced by aging.
• If you have inflammation of any type, it can reduce the utilization of vitamin D.

Vitamin D plays an important role in your body, especially if you have been diagnosed with a thyroid or autoimmune disorder. Stay on top of the situation with regular testing, supplementation and the great outdoors.