The most common causes of thyroid disorders are autoimmune diseases. There is a confirmed link between vitamin D and these types of disorders.
The American Thyroid Association says the autoimmune disease
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common cause of underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism. For overactive thyroid, or hyperthyroidism, the most common cause is Graves’ disease.
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According to Holtorf Medical Group
, two presentations made at the 2014 meeting of the American Thyroid Association offered evidence of the link between vitamin D and both types of autoimmune thyroid disease.
Dr. David Clark, writing at Hypothyroid Mom
, summarized the results of another study in 2011 where 92 percent of study participants with Hashimoto’s were found to be vitamin D deficient. He also explains that because vitamin D is an important regulator of the immune system, too little of it can cause the immune system to become overactive and unbalanced. This results in an autoimmune attack on the body’s systems, including the thyroid gland.
Two main ways of increasing levels of vitamin D involve sun exposure and dietary intake of the nutrient.
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There is an ongoing debate among dermatologists and other healthcare practitioners about how much sun exposure is adequate for vitamin D intake while not posing increased risk for skin cancer. Dr. Theodore Friedman recommends mild exposure
of 15-30 minutes each day, but adds that dark-skinned patients need more exposure since they naturally absorb less vitamin D through sunlight. Supplements for vitamin D can be beneficial as well.
Friedman recommends that all patients with thyroid problems be screened for vitamin D deficiency.
Clark says that even though patients with thyroid disorders are very likely to be deficient in vitamin D, he advises patients to discuss the appropriate supplemental dose with their physician since taking too much vitamin D can make the thyroid disorder worse, and it can cause other health issues.
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