One of the hardest symptoms to handle with thyroid disease is feeling very depressed. Anxiety can worsen with depression and that can cause worry and stress.
Stress is hard on our Thyroid, and can literally “chip” it away over time. Thyroids can get very small and lose function as time passes. The absolute best time to start making the right decisions for your health, is always the present.
Feelings of depression and anxiety can worsen during the winter months here in the US, especially for those with Thyroid Disease when the days are shorter and the weather is colder. Those who feel depressed are less productive at work, less active with their children, and less present in personal relationships. Depression also affects how we feel about ourselves and our perceived self worth.
Sunlight helps our bodies to make our own Vitamin D. Because the sun is out for a shorter period of time, we have less Vitamin D synthesis happening in our skin. Having low Vitamin D levels is directly linked to Depression and Thyroid Disease, among many autoimmune conditions, and illnesses like cancer. Getting enough Vitamin D is crucial during the winter, and all year long.
Most of my thyroid patients were low or chronically low in Vitamin D at the beginning of their health journey. Increasing Vitamin D has been clinically shown to raise TSH, the thyroid stimulating hormone in the pituitary gland that stimulates the thyroid to produce T4, which is converted to T3, which stimulates metabolism in all of our body’s systems. So Vitamin D is pretty important!
Food sources of Vitamin D are great, though it may not be enough to significantly raise your levels when starting to increase your intake. This is especially true if your Vitamin D levels have been low for quite some time. Your body needs to build up it’s stores of Vitamin D, which is fat soluble, and stores partly in the liver.
Besides being the “Joy Vitamin” Vitamin D helps our bodies to absorb minerals such as calcium and phosphorus, helping to strengthen our bones. Calcium and Phosphorus are electrolytes that signal electrical impulses in our bodies, regulating functions vital to life like our heartbeat.
Vitamin D can be found in a variety of foods:
Wild caught Salmon
Grass fed organic beef liver
Cage free organic eggs
There are several other nutrients that boost absorption and assimilation of Vitamin D. These include the mineral Magnesium, and Vitamin K2. It is recommended to take both of these with Vitamin D for a more holistic approach to supplementation with better bioavailability.
Look for supplements that are made from Whole Foods. Most vitamins sold in stores are synthetic- created by man as a “replica” of the vitamin. The issue is, synthetic supplements do not fulfill all the countless functions that natural vitamins do, and we can become low on vitamins that we are supplementing with, despite testing in the “normal” range in a blood test.
Natural vitamins are from nature. This includes plants, fungus, and animals. A Whole Food Supplement with Vitamins D3 and K2, along with Magnesium; will be labelled as a “Whole Food” supplement.
The RDA for vitamin D is 600 IU daily. Clinical therapeutic doses tend to start at 3000 IU and can go higher than 30,000 IU. Most of my personal thyroid patients share that they feel well on a dose of 3,000 IU/day.
Because Vitamin D is fat soluble, there is a chance for enough D to store in the liver and become toxic. Most people low on Vitamin D can take 10,000 IU for a month, then lower dosing to 3,000 for maintenance. Vitamin D toxicity is extremely rare, though I have witnessed one case of toxicity in a patient whose physician prescribed 50,000 IU a day of synthetic Vitamin D for several months.
The functional range for vitamin D is 50-70, with a target of 70 being ideal for optimal health. When Vitamin D levels drop below 40, that can be a precursor to autoimmune disease including Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Graves Disease. Levels below 30 are directly linked to cancer and other deadly diseases. Most medical labs give a wider, and less healthy range, which can start as low as 25 or 30. This is difficult in obtaining a diagnosis in low Vitamin D from your physician if you are functionally low in Vitamin D, though fit within that lab’s “conventional” range. If you have ever been diagnosed with depression or anxiety, there is a good chance your Vitamin D levels are low.
Symptoms of low Vitamin D include Thyroid disease, fatigue, lethargy, depression, possible confusion or forgetfulness, getting sick often, joint pain, low immunity, and painful bones. If you suspect you have low Vitamin D, fill up on foods loaded with Vitamin D, start supplementing at 3,000 IU/day, and get outside as much as possible. Even in the winter! The sun can synthesize Vitamin D on our faces, along with all other exposed areas of skin.
There are products designed for people with chronically low Vitamin D that include special lamps and lighting. These can be very effective for those living in Northern Climates where sunlight can be limited in winter months. Sitting with clothing removed in front of a quality Vitamin D lamp for 30 minutes a day is a great way to increase Vitamin D in your body.
Increasing sun exposure can be as fun as going for walks outside and having picnics with your family. Sunshine is free. Set an alarm in your phone as a reminder to take your Daily D supplement, and enjoy Salmon, eggs, beef, mushrooms, and other delicious foods with Vitamin D. When your Vitamin D levels rise into the functional range, depression symptoms improve, and feelings of anxiety lessen.