New patients to our office frequently asked if they should be taking vitamin D for their low thyroid symptoms like fatigue, insomnia, hair loss, weight gain, depression, cold hands and feet, anxiety and all the other symptoms that go along with having low thyroid function. Here are better question to ask:
How do I determine if I need it?
How much should I take?
How do I monitor the vitamin D I am taking to make sure I get enough, and not too much?
Something you should know is that vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, it acts like a hormone. That means if you take too much of it, you do not get it out of your system as quickly as you would a water soluble. Take vitamin C for example, it is water soluble. If you take too much of it, your body will quickly and efficiently get it out of your system.
We have several patients that come in every week that have had their vitamin D checked in the past by their doctor and were told that there are levels were low and to just start taking some vitamin D.
This is a big mistake. Vitamin D levels need to be rechecked to make sure that the dosages right.
Here is an all too common scenario. The patient gets their vitamin D checked by their thyroid doctor. The test comes back and shows that they have low vitamin D levels. The patient is then told to take 50,000 units one time per week, usually on a Monday. I’ve even had patients that were put on dosages as high as hundred and 150,000 units to be taken one time per week.
Does this make any sense to you? Is taking one large dose of anything one time per week the best way to increase your levels? Let’s use an analogy. Let’s say that instead of your doctor checking you for vitamin D, you were checked to see if you had a deficiency of apples. The doctor runs the tests and finds that yes you do have a deficiency of apples. Would it make sense to eat 50 apples at one time every Monday?
Or do you think it would be easier for your body to absorb the nutritional value of those apples by eating seven apples throughout the day, seven days a week? Of course the answer is to take smaller dosages more frequently. The same holds true for vitamin D.
If you have been checked for vitamin D deficiency, you probably only been checked to see what you’re circulating vitamin D levels are and not your stored vitamin D levels. You want to make sure that you have both the circulating as well as the stored vitamin D levels checked at the same time. In the past five years, I’ve only had one new patient come in and that has had both her circulating and stored vitamin D levels tested.
I average about one person per week that comes in to our office that will have a low circulating vitamin D level, but there stored levels will be high. It is common to see this type of pattern in patients that have an autoimmune thyroid condition called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
If you are thinking about taking vitamin D or you are on vitamin D, make sure you find a doctor that knows what we have just talked about. Find a doctor that will check your circulating and stored levels before you start taking vitamin D and after you’ve been on it for 2 to 3 months to make sure that the dosage is right for you.