Reducing thyroid antibodies may increase the quality of your life if you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the autoimmune cause of hypothyroidism. A new, high quality, research study strengthens the evidence building for science based natural solutions in Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
The Story So Far:
We’ve known for some time that low vitamin D status was associated with the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the US, UK and Australia – an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. But what we’ve not know was if low Vitamin D caused Hashimoto’s, or if Hashimoto’s caused low Vitamin D, or even if increasing vitamin D levels would have any impact on Hashimoto’s! (1,2)
This Is Brand New Information:
A new, evidence based, research study was just performed on women with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis taking the number 1 medication prescribed for hypothyroidism, levothyroxine (also called Oroxoine, Thyroxine, Synthyroid, Tirosint, Levothyroid) with promising results. The study found when Vitamin D was supplemented thyroid antibodies, a measure of the amount of autoimmunity against their own thyroid, reduced! I’ve popped the study details below. (1)
Why Should You Care?
So are you tempted to ask why should you even care about reducing thyroid antibodies? Well the thing is when Hashimoto’s hypothyroid suffers have been surveyed those with higher antibody levels, that is, a greater immune attack on their thyroid, were found to have greater adverse psychological symptoms. Simply put, the higher the antibodies the worse you feel when you have Hashimoto’s. (3)
It’s Promising But Not Perfect:
The study was only on 34 women which is not a big number to draw a solid recommendation I’d start shouting from the roof tops. I’m not ignoring it either as it does build happily on the picture started with the Mazokopakis et al. (2015) paper on 218 Hashimoto’s hypothyroid sufferers living in sunny Crete who were given a Vitamin D supplement. In the Greek study those given a Vitamin D3 supplement ended up with higher Vitamin D levels in their blood and lower levels of antibodies attacking their thyroid. (2)
Where’s The Sun?
It makes sense that a scientific study would prefer to test the effect of a supplement over sunshine on Vitamin D levels. I could not even imagine the amount of scorn showered on a study that had to somehow provide consistent amounts of sunshine for a reliable statistical outcome!
For me though, when there is a free and natural alternative to popping a pill I have a hankering to recommend people just get outside and sit in the sun! Obviously protect yourself from sun cancer by never letting yourself burn, and while we are talking common sense, there is little benefit in exposing your face. Rather take your long sleeve shirt off, roll up your pants and get sun on your arms and legs.
For those of you in less sunnier climes than where I live, Vitamin D is best taken in the form of Vitamin D3 and with accessory nutrients to help it work at its best for example K2.
The Bottom Line:
It still is early days to make a definitive recommendation so when that happens I like to do a pro’s and cons comparison.
- Keeping your Vitamin D in the optimal range may just mean lower thyroid antibodies, less immune attack on your thyroid, and a better quality of life.
- Good quality Vitamin D3 supplements (with Vitamin K2) are affordable where I live.
- Healthy Vitamin D levels are correlated with better health outcomes in general.
- When larger, better quality studies are done it may be found that Vitamin D supplements do in fact not reduce thyroid antibodies significantly. Which means the money spent on Vitamin D supplements may have not helped you achieve your health goal of reduced thyroid antibodies.
It’s a chilly winter’s day where I live but I’m going get outside, arms and legs bared for a spot of sunshine today!
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Research Study Details:
People studied: 34 women with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and normal vitamin D status (serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels above 30 ng/mL) who had been treated for at least 6 months with levothyroxine.
Method used: 2 groups, receiving (n=18) or not receiving (n=16) oral vitamin D preparations (2000 IU daily).
Testing: Serum levels of thyrotropin (thyroid stimulating hormone), free thyroxine (T4), free triiodothyronine (T3) and 25-hydroxyvitamin D (Vitamin D), as well as titers of thyroid peroxidase (antiTPO antibodies) and thyroglobulin (Tg antibodies) antibodies were measured at the beginning of the study and 6 months later.
Results: Low Vitamin D levels were found to be linked to higher thyroid antibody levels, that is, an increased attack on the thyroid. Higher Vitamin D levels were found to be linked to lower thyroid antibody levels most especially the anti-TPO antibodies.
Research Study Details:
People studied: 218 Hashimoto’s thyroiditis patients who’s thyroid function was within normal levels: 180 females and 38 males aged 35.3 ± 8.5 years.
Methods used: The 186 vitamin D deficient HT patients received vitamin D3 orally, 1200-4000 IU, every day for 4 months aiming to maintain serum 25(OH)D levels ≥ 40 ng/mL.
Testing: Anthropometric characteristics (height, weight, waist circumference), systolic and diastolic blood pressure, serum concentration of 25(OH)D, thyrotropin (TSH), free thyroxine (FT4), anti-thyroid peroxidase (anti-TPO), antithyroglobulin (anti-TG), calcium and phosphorus levels and thyroid and kidney sonographic findings were recorded and measured before and after supplementation.
Results: After 4 months of supplementation a significant decrease (20.3%) of thyroid antibodies (specifically anti-TPO antibodies) was found suggesting supplementation with Vitamin D3 could be a valuable treatment option for those with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
1. Krysiak, R., Szkróbka, W., & Okopień, B. (2017). The Effect of Vitamin D on Thyroid Autoimmunity in Levothyroxine-Treated Women with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Normal Vitamin D Status. Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology & Diabetes, 125(04), 229-233. doi: 10.1055/s-0042-123038
2. Mazokopakis, E. E., Papadomanolaki, M. G., Tsekouras, K. C., Evangelopoulos, A. D., Kotsiris, D. A., & Tzortzinis, A. A. (2015). Is vitamin D related to pathogenesis and treatment of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Hellenic Journal of Nuclear Medicine, 18(3), 222-227.
3. Watt, T., Hegedüs, L., Bjorner, J. B., Groenvold, M., Bonnema, S. J., Rasmussen, Å. K., & Feldt-Rasmussen, U. (2012). Is thyroid autoimmunity per se a determinant of quality of life in patients with autoimmune hypothyroidism?. European Thyroid Journal, 1(3), 186-192. doi: 10.1159/000342623