Our bodies need sunshine!
Our current obsession with shielding ourselves from all sun exposure may be dangerous* if you have a family history of any autoimmune disease.
From the sun (and also from some foods) our body gets Vitamin D which is actually a precursor to a powerful hormone in our body. Sunshine becomes in our bodies:
- major regulator of calcium
- regulator of cell growth and differentiation
- regulator of our immune function.
Studies suggest that vitamin D deficiency may be a risk factor for development of autoimmune diseases: systemic lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and even type 1 diabetes.
Do you know your risk?
Researchers are finding that a family history any type of autoimmune disease increases your risk of contracting an autoimmune thyroid disease meaning sunshine exposure even more critical for you! Ask around in your family and find out if any aunts, uncles or cousins have an autoimmune disease. Did Grandma or Grandad always feel tired, struggle with their weight and complained of sore, swollen joints?
New research is finding that in our thyroid glands not only are there are specific locations built for vitamin D (vitamin D receptors) but that vitamin D may be actually made in the thyroid.
Studies have found people with the most common form of low thyroid function, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, have been found to have lower levels of vitamin D in their blood. And this new study found in autoimmune hyperthyroidism (Graves disease) low vitamin D status was linked to increased autoimmune activity (TSHreceptor antibody titer).
So how much sunshine/vitamin D do you need?
Coming into winter I like all my gorgeous autoimmune patients to have their vitamin D levels assessed with a lab test as one-size-does-not-fit-all in when it comes to vitamin D and sun exposure.
If you would like more information contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Always use your common sense in the sun. Avoid looking directly into the sun, always protect your face and get out of the sun before you get burnt / turn pink.
Boelaert, K., Newby, P. R., Simmonds, M. J., Holder, R. L., Carr-Smith, J. D., Heward, J. M., … & Franklyn, J. A. (2010). Prevalence and relative risk of other autoimmune diseases in subjects with autoimmune thyroid disease. The American Journal of Medicine, 123(2), 183-e1. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2009.06.030
Hong Zhang, Lingyun Liang, and Zhongjian Xie (2015) Low Vitamin D status is associated with increased thyrotropin-receptor antibody titer in Graves Disease. Endocrine Practice, 21(3), 258-263. doi:10.4158/EP14191.OR