There is a close connection between vitamin D and thyroid function. One of the most effective, abundant, reliable, and natural sources of vitamin D is sunlight. Research shows that vitamin D benefits many areas of the body including our cells, muscles, and bone health. It also has a notable influence on our immune system and thyroid function. In this article, we will unravel the significance of sunlight for our thyroid health and overall wellness.
Vitamin D And Thyroid: The Gift Of Sunlight
In this article:
- How Can Summer Be Beneficial?
- What is Vitamin D Doing?
- Vitamin D Deficiency and Autoimmune Thyroid Disorder
- Soaking Up Some Sun for Better Health
- Things To Avoid
- Other Sources Of Vitamin D
How Can Summer Be Beneficial?
Summer doesn’t only mark the end of school with three blissful months of freedom, it also provides universal health benefits. During the summer months, we experience more daylight hours, which provide a greater opportunity to absorb vitamin D. This powerful substance has such a significant impact on the body that it is frequently included in the family of co-hormones rather than just a vitamin.
What is Vitamin D Doing?
Vitamin D, along with Vitamin A, E, and K, is a fat-soluble vitamin. The active form of vitamin D, calcitriol, has an impressive influence on multiple cellular functions. Cellular regulation and production of important substances such as enzymes, hormones, and neurotransmitters are all reliant on proper vitamin D levels. Furthermore, vitamin D is also necessary for proper thyroid function. This vitamin is used in the final metabolic process that allows your thyroid hormone to function within the cell. If there’s vitamin D insufficiency in the nucleus, thyroid hormone is not able to interact with the cell, thereby causing dysfunction throughout the body. Deficiency of vitamin D can cause a wide array of issues. Below are the possible symptoms and conditions we associate with vitamin D deficiency.
- Various cancers
- Thyroid issues
- Autoimmune disorders
- High blood pressure
- Adrenal fatigue
Vitamin D Deficiency and Autoimmune Thyroid Disorder
One of the most important bodily regions affected by vitamin D is the immune system. If someone is experiencing vitamin D deficiency, they are at higher risk of developing harmful autoimmune thyroid problems such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (also known as Hashimoto’s disease) and Graves’ disease. Severe or extended periods of vitamin D deficiency can cause the system to become over-active and damage the thyroid.
In the case of Hashimoto’s disease, one’s own immune system attacks the thyroid causing irreparable damage that reduces its efficiency and productive ability. This can result in thyroid disorders such as hypothyroidism, as well as slowed metabolism and hormonal imbalances. In addition, those who are experiencing common symptoms of hypothyroidism and vitamin D deficiency such as fatigue, depression, aching bones, and recent weight gain may benefit from checking their vitamin D levels.
According to recent studies, there’s a connection between Hashimoto’s disease and vitamin D. In a Chinese study presented at the annual meeting of the American Thyroid Association in October of 2014, it was found that vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased TPO antibodies in autoimmune thyroid patients. This shows that insufficient vitamin D levels may be a significant contributor to autoimmune thyroid conditions. Of the 66 patients who partook in the study (34 had Hashimoto’s disease and 32 had Grave’s disease), 82 percent had low levels of vitamin D.
The connection between Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and vitamin D deficiency was reinforced further by a 2011 study. The study in question focused solely on Hashimoto’s patients. Of the 161 participants, 92 percent of them had a vitamin D deficiency. Although these numbers are staggering as well as frightening, they exemplify the importance of vitamin D regarding autoimmune function.
Soaking Up Sun Is for Better Health
Sunlight is the best and most natural source of vitamin D. Our skin’s exposure to sunlight specifically from ultraviolet B makes up 90 percent of vitamin D in our body. Furthermore, medical practitioners frequently recommend that we spend 15 minutes to an hour out in the sun each day. We can do this through numerous outdoor activities such as walking, napping, or even reading articles on thyroid wellness. Even if you have not been diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid disease or other thyroid conditions, it is greatly beneficial to understand why increased vitamin D intake and testing is being recommended by many medical practitioners. Here are some fun outdoor summer activities you can do to get sufficient vitamin D supplementation:
- Canoeing or kayaking
- Playing frisbee
- Going to parks
- Having a barbecue
- Bird watching
Things To Avoid
Being aware of the impact of vitamin D deficiency on our body is helpful but it is not the primary goal. Avoiding deficiency and providing the body with adequate amounts of this powerful vitamin should be high on our list of summertime activities. There are several situations, products, and activities we need to avoid to lower the risk of consuming our vitamin D reserves. The following list outlines some common contributors to vitamin D deficiency:
- Sunscreen that inhibits vitamin D production and absorption
- Washing off natural body oils needed for absorption prior to exposure to the sun
- Wearing excess clothing or not exposing one’s skin to the sun
- Poor weather due to location or time of year
- Chronic stress
- Environmental toxins such as pesticides and BPA’s
- Working indoors for extended periods
Other Sources Of Vitamin D
Alternatively, there are several ways to improve one’s vitamin D levels. Taking part in outdoor activities when the sun is shining bright can help improve one’s vitamin D absorption and intake. However, not all sunlight is created equal. Sunlight is composed of both UVA and UVB rays. UVB is beneficial in producing vitamin D whereas UVA can break down and destroy vitamin D. In addition to spending time outside, consuming the following foods can boost one’s levels:
- Beef liver
- Sour cream
- Vitamin D Supplements (chewable, capsules, drops etc.)
We are now aware that vitamin D is extremely important for our thyroid and overall wellness but how much do we really need on a daily basis? Watch this video by Mercola and learn more about vitamin D dosages!
Do you know other effects and benefits of vitamin D to our thyroid? Share it with us in the comments below!
Editor’s Note – This post was originally published on July 13, 2017 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.