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Vitamin D and thyroid disease

Posted on: August 30, 2011   by  John Cannell, MD

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Millions of Americans take thyroid medication. In the United States, this is likely due to a previous episode of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, the first autoimmune disease discovered (in 1912). What triggers the body to attack itself and destroy its own thyroid gland?

Genetic factors are involved; it is more common in afflicted family members. The immune system attacks a virus, but the antibodies get confused and end up attacking the thyroid gland instead. If this is the case, is the virus the cause, or is it a malfunction in the immune system? You’d be amazed at how many doctors would say it’s the virus.

Last month, a medical group in Turkey discovered that people with active Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis have vitamin D levels that are about half of unaffected controls (16 ng/ml versus 29 ng/ml). While this could be a consequence of the disease, it seems unlikely that people with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis would be that unlikely to avoid the sun. Given what we know of the myriad of ways that vitamin D deficiency impairs the immune system, it seems likely that thyroid disease is just another symptom of vitamin D deficiency.

Tamer G, Arik S, Tamer I, Coksert D. Relative Vitamin D Insufficiency in Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Thyroid. 2011 Jul 13.

 

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