Our bodies are supposed to make vitamin D from sunlight, but modern living has made it difficult to get enough these days. The consequence is a global 50 percent deficiency in vitamin D, even where it’s sunny. This contributes to autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
Why sunshine isn’t enough for vitamin D
Some foods contain vitamin D but our primary source is supposed to be the sun exposure, synthesized into D using cholesterol.
However, certain factors promote low vitamin D levels:
Insufficient sun exposure. We spend far less time outside than our ancestors and slather on sunscreen. People with dark skin or who live in northern latitudes have even less ability to make vitamin D from the sun.
Not enough vitamin D in the diet. Foods that contain more vitamin D include organ meats, salmon and fish liver oil, and egg yolks — not something most people consume enough of. Foods fortified with vitamin D — dairy and breakfast cereals — are problematic for many people with Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
Gut inflammation and poor fat absorption. Vitamin D is fat-soluble, which means you need to be able to digest fat to absorb D. Gut inflammation from leaky gut and food intolerances can compromise vitamin D absorption from foods.
Stress. High stress hormones can lower vitamin D levels.
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency:
- Muscle, joint and bone pain
- Gum disease
- Brittle or soft bones
- Digestive issues
- Suppressed immune system
What vitamin D does for your body
Vitamin D is actually a hormone. Like thyroid hormone, every cell in your body needs D as it regulates many different pathways:
Bone density. Vitamin D helps prevent breakdown of bone and increases the strength of the skeletal system.
Mood regulation. Low vitamin D is linked to a 14 percent rise in depression and a 50 percent rise in suicide. Raising vitamin D helps improve anxiety and depression.
Brain health. Vitamin D3, the biologically active form, has neuroprotective effects, including the clearance of amyloid plaques of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Reduced cancer risk. Good vitamin D levels are linked with lower rates of breast, ovarian, prostate, and pancreatic cancers.
Sleep. Good vitamin D levels improves sleep.
Immune regulation. Vitamin D plays a key role in dampening inflammation.
This is especially important in dampening autoimmune Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
Research shows more than 90 percent of people with autoimmunity have a genetic defect that causes vitamin D deficiency and therefore need to take more.
A common thread in all chronic illnesses, inflammation is shown to be reduced by adequate vitamin D levels.
How to boost vitamin D
Sunshine. Expose your skin to 20 to 60 minutes of sun per day. If your skin is dark or you live at a northern latitude you need the higher amount of time. The more skin you expose, the more D you produce.
Food. Include salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, and egg yolks in your diet.
Supplement. Vitamin D has two forms, D2 and D3.
Vitamin D2 is seen on mainstream vitamin labels, however, vitamin D3 is twice as effective at raising vitamin D in the body.
Mainstream dosage advice is based on bone density and not preventing chronic health conditions.
Take vitamin D in an oil-based soft gel capsule or liquid form with a meal that includes fat.
For Hashimoto’s management, take 5,000 to 10,000 IU per day. Some people take higher doses if their genetics hamper absorption. Test your levels every three to six months.
Emulsified vitamin D
Emulsified vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) enhances absorption and helps prevent toxicity.
Ask my office about finding out whether you need to boost your vitamin D levels to better manage you Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
How to learn if you have Hashimoto’s low thyroid
Many patients are not diagnosed with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s until after several years and going through several doctors. It is a demoralizing journey richly illustrated in my book The Truth About Low Thyroid: Stories of Hope and Healing for Those Suffering With Hashimoto’s Low Thyroid Disease, through real-life stories from patients in my practice. Managing Hashimoto’s goes far beyond using thyroid medication as you must work to stop the immune system from attacking the thyroid. For more information on identifying and managing Hashimoto’s low thyroid, contact my office.
About Dr. Josh Redd, Chiropractic Physician — Utah, Arizona, New Mexico functional medicine
Dr. Joshua J. Redd, DC, MS, DABFM, DAAIM, author of The Truth About Low Thyroid: Stories of Hope and Healing for Those Suffering With Hashimoto’s Low Thyroid Disease, is a chiropractic physician and the founder of RedRiver Health and Wellness Center with practices in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. He sees patients from around the world who suffer from challenging thyroid disorders, Hashimoto’s disease, and other autoimmune conditions. In addition to his chiropractic degree, Dr. Redd has a BS in Health and Wellness, a BS in Anatomy, and a MS in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine. He speaks across the nation, teaching physicians about functional blood chemistry, low thyroid, Hashimoto’s, and autoimmunity. You can join his Facebook page here.