Should you be supplementing with vitamin D?
Dr. Chris Heimlich DC, Director of the Arizona Thyroid Institute in Scottsdale, AZ Explains:
More and more people are taking vitamin D. They have seen on the news or the web that it is good for them. Taking vitamin D is good for you…IF YOU NEED IT.
Modern diets are lacking in Vitamin D rich foods. What are Vitamin D rich foods? Liver, organ meats, lard, many forms of seafood, butter and egg yolks.
The best-known function of active vitamin D is to help regulate blood levels of calcium and phosphorous. Vitamin D increases absorption of minerals from the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. In combination with parathyroid hormone, it enhances their reabsorption from the kidneys and their mobilization from bones into the blood. Vitamin D helps maintain calcium levels even if dietary intakes are not optimal. Calcitriol affects growth of normal cells and some cancer cells. Adequate vitamin-D status has been linked to a reduced risk of developing breast, colon, and prostrate cancers.
Sunlight is another important factor and source of Vitamin D. BUT, you should NEVER take vitamin D without having your Vitamin D levels tested, specifically, 25 OHD and 1,25 OHD. Most doctors only test 25 OHD. I feel this is a mistake. It is very important to have both levels tested. I see at least one patient a week that comes in taking Vit D that have low or normal 25 OHD levels and high 1,25 OHD levels.
Why could it be bad a bad idea to take Vitamin D? One reason is because it is a fat-soluble vitamin. That means it is tougher for your body to get excess amounts out of your system. Vitamin D is most likely to have toxic effects when consumed in excessive amounts through supplementation. Excess vitamin D raises blood calcium levels, resulting in calcium precipitation in soft tissues and stone formation in the kidneys, where calcium becomes concentrated in an effort to excrete it.
Why is Vitamin D so important with patients that have low thyroid symptoms like hair loss, depression, weight gain and fatigue? Vitamin D deficiency is associated with many, many autoimmune conditions including Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Autoimmune rates have been skyrocketing in the past 20 years and have been correlated with decreased levels of Vitamin D in the general population.
The number one cause of low thyroid in America is an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s.
Adequate Vitamin D levels help to keep the immune system balance so it doesn’t swing out of control into an autoimmune disease. When it comes to Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, the problems with Vitamin D deficiency is made worse by genetics. There are studies that show that more than 90 percent of the people with an autoimmune thyroid or Hashimoto’s have a genetic defect affecting their ability to process Vitamin D.
The take home message here is to NOT just take vitamin D because you think it is good for you. Find a thyroid doctor that can actually do the detective work and find out if it is something that you need.
Listen To The Audio:
Low Thyroid Symptoms and Vitamin D
Dr. Chris Heimlich, DC, DACNB, Scottsdale Thyroid Doctor Comments:
Although I have written posts about blood sugar and low thyroid symptoms in the past, I came across a recent article the other day that I wanted to share with you that links thyroid disorders and diabetes. The article states that Diabetes and Thyroid Disease appear to be closely linked. They also stated that the data did not differ between type 1 and type 2 Diabetes.
The article also suggested a common genetic background for both thyroid disease and diabetes. They also link the conditions to autoimmunity.
What most people do not realize is that type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease, just like Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (low thyroid) and Grave’s Disease. Type 2 Diabetes is also connected to autoimmunity at least 20% of the time. Research shows, just like this article does, that if you have one autoimmune condition, you have a higher chance of having another. I have also found this clinically.
The article, as do most texts, considers low thyroid synonymous with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
That is a huge take home message for you. According to the literature, when you have hypothyroid or low thyroid symptoms, it is synonymous with the autoimmune condition Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. As you know from reading my other blogs and watching my videos, just taking thyroid hormones is not the answer to getting your maximal health back when you have an autoimmune condition.
The summary of the article stated that there is an increasing body of evidence suggesting that insulin sensitivity, or drugs used to modulate it, will also affect thyroid growth and function. It also stated that a better definition of the interactions between Diabetes and thyroid hormones is necessary to optimize treatment of patients with diabietes mellitus. They also stated the high prevalence of thyroid dysfunction should result in regular screening of the thyroid function. I suggest get screened for thyroid function regularly even if you have not been diagnosed with diabetes. Of course like I have said on many different occasions, make sure you get complete testing, not just the TSH.
Dr. Chris Heimlich, DC, Scottsdale Phoenix Metro area Doctor Shares The Third of 7 Low Thyroid Mistakes Patients and Doctors Make….
As I consult with patients that suffer from hypothyroid symptoms on a daily basis at the Arizona Thyroid Institute located here in Scottsdale Arizona, I see 7 common mistakes that keep hypothyroid patients from experiencing relief from their thyroid symptoms. The third reason is this series is: Iodine Supplementation
Your Iodine Supplements May Be Making You Worse
When a patient has been diagnosed with low thyroid production, medically referred to as hypothyroidism, one of the first things commonly prescribed is iodine supplementation. You’ve probably been told that iodine is necessary for thyroid hormones synthesis. And it is, but here is the problem…taking supplemental iodine can be dangerous, and here’s why.
Worldwide iodine deficiency is a widespread problem. In areas of the world where iodine is deficient, iodine is the cause of many if not most cases of hypothyroidism. In areas where iodine is not deficient in the food supply, including the United States, iodine is not usually the cause of low thyroid.
In areas of the world with adequate iodine in food, or where salt is iodized, the most common cause of low thyroid is Hashimoto’s Autoimmune Thyroid. It is estimated that up to 90 percent of cases of hypothyroidism in the United States is from this autoimmune mechanism. Autoimmune thyroid is not primary hypothyroidism; instead it is a form of hypothyroidism that is caused by immune destruction. The amount of iodine that is contained is iodine supplements and thyroid natural support products act like gas on a burning fire.
In a 2004 article in the journal Thyroid, the author stated “…the explosive mix of iodine, TPO Ab, and H202 necessary for thyroid hormone synthesis, inadvertently provide the trigger for the autoimmune thyroid response.” It is this misguided inclination to give every hypothyroidism patient high doses of supplemental iodine that leads to increased thyroid gland destruction, and more suffering on the patient’s part. Most natural healthcare practitioners possess a very limited understanding of autoimmune physiology and continue giving iodine supplements for all cases of hypothyroidism, in the same way as the medical community uses thyroid replacement hormones as a “blanket” management for all low thyroid conditions.
What that means is iodine is a trigger. It’s a trigger for Hashimoto’s autoimmune thyroid.
Hashimoto’s autoimmune thyroid is the number one cause of low thyroid in America–not iodine deficiency.
This whole issue of iodine exposes a nasty similarity between traditional medicine and “alternative” medicine.
Traditional medicine is looking at TSH and T4 and T3 and they didn’t really care about iodine. They’re not even going to give you iodine because whatever the real cause of your low thyroid symptoms might be. The only thing you’re going to get from them is replacement thyroid hormones. No matter what. It’s pretty much the only tool they have to offer. (And you know the old saying…”If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like nails.”)
They don’t care if the cause of your symptoms is
- T4 to T3 overconversion problem…
- Under conversion problem…
- Thyroid binding globulin problem
—doesn’t matter. You’re getting thyroid hormones from the traditional medical doctor. This is why so many women STILL feel terrible.
So traditional medicine has nice little box. You’ve heard of thinking “outside the box?” Well Traditional medicine has their nice little dusty box, been sitting here for 30, 40 years and that’s how they do it.
Over here we have the not so alternative-alternative medicine approach. And what they do is they also have their sad, outdated box way of thinking. Inside their box is the idea that everyone with low thyroid needs iodine supplementation, or tyrosine, or broad immune system support ,or they need to take thyroid glandulars.
Here’s what the not-so-alternative medicine doesn’t know…conventional medicine, they do some testing. Not-so-alternative medicine does almost no testing at all. They’re still doing things like the Barnes underarm thyroid test and that is an ancient, prehistoric, non-useful way of evaluating the thyroid.
There are also people in this camp that are doing the iodine absorption test as if that had any real relationship to your need for iodine (it doesn’t).
The craziest thing is that these not-so-alternative practitioners ignore the fact that iodine is a trigger for Hashimoto’s. If you wanna give yourself Hashimoto’s, keep taking the iodine that one of the not-so-alternative medicine doctors gave you. They mean well, by the way. I’m not trying to slam them.
But that well meaning “alternative” doctor doesn’t understand the fact that what we’re really dealing with, almost 90 percent of the time, is not low iodine. The problem is an autoimmune problem.
If you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism but are not sure whether is is autoimmune, then it is in your best interest to have your thyroid doctor check your thyroid antibodies. This will indicate whether your hypothyroidism is from an immune cause and will help guide you in your decision of whether to include iodine supplementation in your diet. There are natural thyroid treatment options in the Scottsdale and Phoenix Metro area.
In my next post I am going to discuss Low Thyroid Mistake #4: Hashimotos
Dr Chris Heimlich, Board Certified Chiropractic Physician
Dr. Chris Heimlich DC, Scottsdale Phoenix Metro Area Doctor Shares The Second of 7 Low Thyroid Mistakes Patients and Doctors Make….
As I consult with patients that suffer from hypothyroid symptoms on a daily basis at the Arizona Thyroid Institute located here in Scottsdale Arizona, I see 7 common mistakes that keep hypothyroid patients from experiencing relief from their thyroid symptoms. The Second reason in this series is: High Cortisol Levels.
High levels or cortisol is another hidden cause as to why you still have thyroid symptoms even though you’re taking thyroid hormone or even though your lab numbers are normal.
So what is cortisol? It’s a hormone made in your adrenal gland. I know you have heard of them. They are known as the “stress” glands. They sit on top of your kidneys. They make the hormones aldosterone, cortisol, and androgens. The adrenal glands are crucial for your good health.
So what does cortisol do?
Cortisol is responsible for regulating your blood sugar. When cortisol is release by your adrenal glands, it is accompanied by cytokines. Cytokines are messengers used by your immune system. This creates an inflammatory response. These cytokines suppress the ability of your pituitary and your hypothalamus to make TSH, thyroid stimulating hormone.
When that happens you start to get some or all of the low thyroid symptoms below:
Hair falls out easily
Poor circulation and numbness in hand and feet
Morning headaches that wear off as day progresses
So follow me as I explain cortisol and low thyroid symtpoms….
Your adrenal glands make cortisol in response to stress. There are different kinds of stress. Anything that promotes inflammation or that causes inflammation, will make your adrenal glands pump out more cortisol.
As that cortisol is released, those cytokines are going to come out as well—that is what’s going to suppress your pituitary and give you low thyroid symptoms.
The most common causes of elevated cortisol are:
- Blood sugar regulation problems (high or low blood sugar, insulin spikes and valleys)
- Hidden gut infections or infections you haven’t been able to eliminate
- Chronic stress.
Well, let me say a couple words about each one of those.
When you have a “blood sugar problem”, it means that your blood sugar is not regular.
Your blood sugar is going up and down….
When your blood sugar goes up and down, your cortisol levels are going to go up and down…
…and the cytokines are going to go up and down….
…and then we have this whole pituitary getting squashed…
…and you not making enough thyroid hormones and you’re starting to have symptoms.
The key point to remember here is: You do NOT have to be diagnosed as a diabetic to have blood sugar problems.
There are two varieties of that blood sugar problem. You don’t have to be diabetic to have this. You can have hypoglycemia (reactive hypoglycemia), which means your sugar drops between meals…or you don’t eat when you need to and…when you do eat the next time, you get these big surges of insulin, big surges of cortisol.
It doesn’t matter to your body whether you have low blood sugar or high blood sugar; in both cases the blood sugar is not regular.
So, for example, if you get shaky, light headed or irritable in between meals and you have a thyroid problem…this could be one of the reasons why because that blood sugar going up and down, that fluctuation causes this fluctuation in cytokines and inflammation.
The second thing that can cause excessive cortisol is infection. It’s not necessarily like getting strep throat. We’re talking about, many times, hidden G.I. infections that you have no idea you have because you may not have any G.I. symptoms that cause high cortisol…and then low thyroid symptoms.
There’s a test that you can do that is a DNA PCR test of stool.This test is definitive as to whether you’ve got a parasite, a fungus or a yeast or some sort of pathogen living in your gut that’s driving – and that’s the word I use – driving your adrenal glands to keep pumping up cortisol—which makes increased levels of cytokines, which suppresses your pituitary.
Mental stress is the third thing that can cause these adrenal glands to keep pumping out cortisol. Many low thyroid sufferers are stressed by many different parts of their life. They feel bad. It’s the classic stress response. So, for those people – and this is part of what we do for my management program – we have to teach them how to deal with their stress.
I’m not talking necessarily about being a therapist. I’m talking about teaching you a very powerful but simple way of helping your body not have a stress response but have a relaxing response. If whoever’s taking care of you right now, if you’re under care, if they’re not addressing this stress component, you’re being underserved. I believe you’re being underserved. There are natural thyroid treatment options in the Phoenix Metro area.
If your stress levels are still high, your adrenal glands are still going to pump hard. Cortisol levels are going to increase to excess. Cytokine levels are going to increase, and it’s going to squash your pituitary. Remember, your pituitary is a key component if thyroid health.
In my next post I am going to discuss Low Thyroid Mistake #3: The Dangers Of Iodine
Dr Chris Heimlich, Board Certified Chiropractic Physician
Dr. Chris Heimlich DC, Scottsdale Phoenix Metro Area Doctor Shares The First of 7 Low Thyroid Mistakes Patients and Doctors Make….
Research shows that the most common reason for hypothyroid symptoms is an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. It is estimated that 80% or more of people suffering with hypothyroid symptoms have this autoimmune disease. If this is the case, why don’t doctors check antibody levels.
Before we talk about that, let’s look how bad an autoimmune disease really is. An autoimmune disease is where the body is attacking itself. The body tries to destroy different tissues inside itself. That is a serious problem.
Now the biggest reason doctors don’t check the antibody levels is because it does not change their management protocol. For thyroid treatment most doctors are going to give you synthetic thyroid replacement hormones, intermittently check your TSH, and call it a day. If you continue to suffer with the same symptoms as before they will be attributed to some other ailment, usually depression or anxiety, and be treated accordingly.
The second reason is that it is seen as a “medical waste” in the eyes of the insurance company. I do agree with the insurance companies on this. Why pay for a test if it isn’t going to change the course of management? The payment for a test that will not alter the course of management is in a way wasteful, but the real waste is in ignoring the underlying cause of the problem and leaving the patient to suffer.
Having no alternative management plan for Autoimmune thyroid, and the resultant medical waste of a test ordered but that has no bearing on the patients management are the two main reasons many Hashimoto’s patients go undiagnosed and ignored in the system.
It is critical to determine if your hypothyroid symptoms are from an immune mechanism. If it is from autoimmune disease, it should absolutely be managed in more comprehensive way, not only including some type of replacement hormone, but it should also include management of the immune systems destruction of the gland itself. A more comprehensive approach by a natural thyroid doctor in Phoenix AZ gives the patient a better chance to feel and function normally.
Dr. Chris Heimlich, DC, DACNB FIAMA Comments:
If you’re suffering from the thyroid problems and can’t get off the extra pounds, we may have a solution for you.
One of the most frustrating symptoms associated with low thyroid is weight gain. Although patients may have several symptoms associated with low thyroid, this is the one they often look most forward to resolving with help and support. It is extremely frustrating to eat like a bird, exercise like an athlete, and still not budge on the scales.
Here is a real conversation one of my patients had with her doctor. (not for the faint of heart)
Patient: “I can’t lose weight. I am exercising every day, watching what I eat, taking my thyroid medication, but still can’t make any progress. What can I do?”
Doctor: “Did you ever see anyone come out of a concentration camp that was fat?”
Doctor: “Did you ever see anyone come out of a concentration camp that was fat?”
Patient: “No. Are suggesting I starve myself? That isn’t healthy.”
Doctor: “You are probably just eating too much.”
How about that for bedside manner? That is the kind of recommendations that some patients are given.
I realize that this is probably an isolated case, but there are many women are told to starve themselves to achieve weight loss.
Now I am the first to admit, starting off in practice I did not pay too much attention to the weight issues of our patients. I felt it was more important to get the body to heal itself so it could get rid of the other symptoms associated with low thyroid, and the weight would take care of itself. My staff had told me that the weight was a very big issue and that I needed to be more sensitive to that aspect of the healing process. I would ask patients how they were doing, and the first thing they would talk about it the weight loss. After asking about their other symptoms, it was common to hear “oh I sleep better now, don’t have brain fog, my IBS is gone, not depressed, but I lost 18 pounds already.” They would forget about the other symptoms they used to have, and focus on the weight loss. It finally hit me, this is one symptom of major importance to the patient, and I needed to address it as such.
The inability to lose weight is often the symptom that prompts patients to seek out low thyroid treatment with their primary care physician. Unfortunately, the inability to lose weight isn’t always resolved once treatment begins.
If you’re in this situation, ask your physician or practitioner this question: why you are still having difficulty losing weight. If the answer is, “You just need to eat less,” or “You need to exercise more,” you should consider other support options and answers.
Although diet and exercise are important for everyone, there are many factors play a huge role in the weight issues.
Blood sugar, adrenal function, inflammation, GI function, and how the body is functionally working all could be contributing to your weight issue. If you are suffering with hypothyroid symptoms and still cannot lose the weight, find a doctor that will listen you, dig deep to find out what could be causing your symptoms, and will work with you to achieve your health goals.
Dr. Chris Heimlich, DC, DACNB Comments:
Now before I start getting the hate mail, hear me out. I just had another patient come in and tell me that her doctor had said that to her.
If you are suffering with any of the symptoms of Hashimoto’s, you know that it is a BIG DEAL.
Some of the symptoms of Hashimoto’s include:
- hair loss
- hair thinning
- cold hands and feet
- sleep excessively to function
- brain fog, slow thinking
- dry skin, flaky skin
- occasional HYPERthyroid symptoms
In America the number one cause for low thyroid is an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
This means that the number one cause for low thyroid n America is an autoimmune attack. Here are some examples of other autoimmune conditions: MS, rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus.
Meaning—your immune system has turned on you and is targeting your thyroid…and is killing it…. and that’s what’s causing you to be low thyroid.
And taking thyroid hormones will NOT do anything for this attack. You will continue to lose more and more of your thyroid.
But the standard of care for that is giving you thyroid hormones. I think you probably understand now that this not a thyroid hormone problem. That’s not the battle. The battle is an immune system battle; an autoimmune battle.
Here is a good way to think about the autoimmune attack on the body. It would be like coming into my office in shorts. You bring along your dog or cat. And it is just starts biting and scratching your legs, just really attacking you. I look at you and say “Gee, you have a leg problem. Here are some band-aids. Take these and put them on your legs. Here is a script of band-aids for the rest of your life for that leg problem. You may need more or less of them as you go through life. We will check on them every 3 to 6 months.
If I told you this, you would probably look at me like I had two heads. It wouldn’t make any sense. The animal attacking your legs is the problem, not the legs. It is the same thing with Hashimoto’s. The immune system attacking the thyroid is the problem, not the thyroid.
What most doctors are going to do for Hashimoto’s is monitor your TSH–thyroid stimulating hormone –level. They’re going to try to make it stay within a certain numerical range,—but that’s going to fluctuate all over the place and it’s not really getting to the problem.
The immune system will NOT only attack the thyroid, but it will start attacking the cells in the lining of your stomach that help you to be able to absorb B-12. When this happens you’ll end up getting pernicious anemia. Since 80% of neurotransmitters are created in the stomach, you can also get brain fog, memory loss, and other neurological symptoms.
The brain is also targeted by the immune system. It likes to attack the cerebellum. You can end up having vertigo, dizziness, and balance problems.
The immune system also attacks your pancreas and can make you start having diabetic symptoms, insulin problems, and adrenal issues.
Since every cell in the body has a thyroid receptor site, any part of your body can be attacked when the immune system no longer can tell what is friend and what it foe.
When most patients suffering from low thyroid symptoms learn about the autoimmune attack on the body, it makes perfect sense to them. It makes sense because that is how they feel. Like their body is being attacked.
Focusing the clinical management on slowing and modulating the autoimmune attack is crucial in Hashimoto’s Disease. How can you have a properly functioning thyroid if the body is continually attacking and killing it?
A functional approach to naturally supporting and modulating the immune system in autoimmune cases is the best way to help the body slow down or stop the attack on itself. Natural management of autoimmune conditions is complex. Support that is specific to the individual immune system is essential if you truly want to help Hashimoto’s Disease.
You have to find out how their immune system has shifted. Our immune systems have two parts: TH-1 and a TH-2. They are supposed to be balanced. If they are not, then we have a problem.
You have to find out which one of those has become abnormally dominant and why.
Is it because of an antigen? –something that the immune system has been trying to kill for so long that it’s increased its immune attack on this antigen and then it flipped the scales and now we have an autoimmune condition.
Or has the immune system become imbalanced because of disregulation. Hormonal surges can do this. Stress can do this. Blood sugar problems. Inflammation can do this.
So if you know someone that’s suffering with Hashimoto’s, or with low thyroid, and they don’t feel any better – even with thyroid medication – it is time to get them some help.
It’s time to find someone who can investigate this further.
There are millions of you out there right now that have this problem and you don’t know it.
It’s why you still have thyroid symptoms even though you’re taking medication–you have an autoimmune condition (whether diagnosed correctly or not).
And yes, it is A VERY BIG DEAL.
Dr. Chris Heimlich DC, Director of the Arizona Thyroid Institute in Scottsdale, AZ Answers a Common Question Asked By Women Suffering With Low Thyroid:
Here is a question I get asked a lot. Can you cure Hashimoto’s? When I get asked this question, I always tell the patient about Dr. Hawkinson. He was one of my instructors in school and he would always drill into our heads that-
“You only cure two things: bacon and ham. The power that created the body will heal the body. Your job as a doctor is to figure out why the body isn’t healing itself, remove any road blocks that are stopping it, help support it when necessary, and let it do what it was intended to do. “
So the answer is “no”. You cannot cure Hashimoto’s.
But…Can the symptoms of Hashimoto’s be reversed? YES!
Now Hashimoto’s is a genetic condition. That means you get it from your parents. It usually happens at three different times in a woman’s life: puberty, pregnancy, and perimenopause. And at these times your epigenetic factor can get turned on and your body has an auto immune response to your thyroid.
That means that your body starts to attack your thyroid and starts destroying it.
Now I know there are a few doctors out there saying that they can cure Hashimoto’s. That is not the case. Many times what they will do is look at the TSH level and when it goes back into the normal level they will say that the Hashimoto’s is cured. That is not the case. You can look at a woman’s TSH level throughout the year without treatment and it can bounce up and down. The same is true for antibody levels. They can fluctuate as well. That is why we are lucky when we test antibodies and they show positive. An estimated 15% of woman that have Hashimoto’s will not even show the antibodies on the blood test. That means they don’t make the antibodies.
So what do you have to do to help these ladies with Hashimoto’s? Well you have to help with reversing the symptoms; the constipation, fatigue, dry skin, cold hands and feet, brittle hair or hair falling out. You can reverse those symptoms. That can be done without question. So how do you reverse the symptoms? How do you do that? Well, the first thing you have to do is find a doctor that understands that Hashimoto’s is an auto immune condition. You have to look at gut toxicity, T cells, B cells, vitamin D and food sensitivities, blood sugar, adrenals, and all the stuff that plays a role in the immune function.
If your doctor is not trained in that and is not schooled in those ways, they are not going to be able to offer much help in reversing those symptoms.
So don’t get caught up in the idea of having to cure your Hashimoto’s. That is not possible. But it is possible to reverse the symptoms. You can be better. You can feel better.
What if you could to feel 70%, 80% or 90% better and your Hashimoto’s had not been cured?
Would that be worth it? Of course it would. So can you reverse the symptoms of Hashimoto’s? Yes you can, as long as your doctor knows how to help you.