Question: A friend of mine told me to look into how vitamin D plays a role in my TSH levels. She said something about how vitamin D is actually a hormone or something like that. She is super smart, but I totally do not understand what she is talking about. What do you think about vitamin D? Does it have anything to do with my high TSH levels?
Answer: There is some new (or should I say “newly re-discovered”) information that validates some of this information. Try as they might, doctors (even the highly specialized) do NOT know everything about how the human body works.
There is a good article by Theodore C. Friedman, M.D., Ph.D., which talks about how vitamin D deficiency and hypothyroidism are related. He refers to several studies performed over 20 years ago which point to this fact. It’s actually very interesting stuff.
I have always been one to point out that humans NEED sunshine. In moderation, sunlight makes us happy, healthy, and warm. As an additional bonus, it allows our bodies to naturally produce vitamin D.
Vitamin D is essential to health. More than a few diseases can find their roots in vitamin D deficiency. In time, we will surely find more ailments that have roots in our general lack of vitamin D.
I have also been quick to point out that general health should be one’s target, even if normal TSH levels are your primary goal. Every organ in your body works together. Therefore if one part of your body is unhealthy it can affect the other parts (such as your thyroid). Vitamin D is essential for overall health in the body.
So, if your TSH levels are outside of the normal range, it wouldn’t hurt to have your vitamin D levels checked. In the lab, they call this a 25-hydroxyvitamin D test… sometimes called a 25(OH)D. This is a blood test, so be ready for a needle.
Your numbers should be above 50 ng/ml (125 nmol/L). If they are not, then you need to get more sun, or supplement with vitamin D3.
If you have the opportunity to get out into the sunlight throughout the day, I highly recommend it. Yes, yes, I know that many people will scream “skin cancer” at this point, but as time goes on we are finding that vitamin D deficiency may actually be the greater risk.
For those who cannot get a little sunshine every day (or are not willing to take the risk that accompanies sun exposure), I recommend 2,000 IU of D3. Any good health food store should have a good quality D3 supplement.