Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (also known as autoimmune thyroiditis) is an autoimmune inflammatory condition where the body produces antibodies that attack its own thyroid gland. It can often be associated with the presence of other autoimmune diseases like coealic for example. Read on to see how Vitamin D may be a key player in it’s management.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis can be asymptomatic or subclinical for a long time but can eventually cause a depletion of thyroid hormone and low thyroid function. If left untreated it may cause damage to the thyroid gland. It is marked by the presence of autoantibodies but these are not commonly tested for unless TSH is persistently raised. If there is a lack of thyroid hormone there is medical treatment to help restore normal functioning levels. However, there is none such treatment to reduce autoantibodies. Thyroid peroxidase antibody (TPOAb) and thyroglobulin antibody (TGAb) are two autoantibodies and can be drivers of immune dysfunction and inflammation.
Vitamin D and Selenium
Some research suggests that vitamin D may be able to modulate the body’s immune response in a way that reduces the level of autoantibodies. Most of us are aware that sunlight is a key provider of Vitamin D. However even on a clear day in Ireland our sunlight is simply not strong enough to provide in the winter months. If you are dark skinned, you need even more exposure to sunlight to obtain optimal levels. As a result, deficiency is relatively common, this is not good news if you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Similar research exists for selenium. There have been a number of studies, with variations but all saying pretty much the same thing. In 2002, one study showed that supplementing with 200ug selenium for 3 months decreased antibodies (anti-TPO) from 900 to 600 IU/ml. This is about the same kind of decrease we see in our clinic in 3 months. One quarter of patients in the treatment group had complete normalisation of their antibodies and thyroid ultrasound.
As always, we say ‘test don’t guess’ as over supplementing can be unhelpful and sometimes harmful.
Omega 3 fatty acids may also be helpful for reducing any associated inflammation. This can be done via supplementation if appropriate or through consuming good amounts of oily fish like salmon and sardines. We can also look at different sources of inflammation such as that possibly arising from the gut. Up to 80% of our immune system is centered here and calming the immune system often begins with the digestive tract. Didn’t Hippocrates suggest that all disease may begin in the gut?
If you would like more information about the services we offer, including testing, please get in touch.