The Importance Of B12 For Thyroid Health

Posted by Lucy Walter on

The thyroid gland produces the hormone thyroxine. When it is in an inactive form it is known as T4. When it is active it is known as T3. This hormone is vital in that it, along with other hormones within your body, is produced to control various functions in your body. A dysfunction in the thyroid gland can lead to a deficiency in vitamin B12.

The difficulty that comes from such a deficiency is that your body cannot produce vitamin B12. It only enters your body through the foods you eat, or from supplementation. This is why a B12 deficiency is more common in older adults as a result in a change in diet or eating habits. There are other reasons why someone may develop a B12 deficiency.

How Vitamin B12 Deficiencies Can Happen

Although it may appear to be obvious, some individuals have difficulty in consuming enough foods that contain vitamin B12 however, there is a less obvious reason for deficiencies. Many individuals suffering from conditions including celiac or Crohn’s disease have difficulty absorbing the vitamin B12 they can get into their body from eating well.

Also, strict vegans tend to develop a deficiency in vitamin B12 as it is not available in plants. Additionally, individuals who have had weight loss surgery – stomach stapling in particular – can also develop a B12 deficiency as it can create havoc with the way in which your body extracts the vitamin from the food consumed through a regular diet.

Symptoms Of A Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Here’s the most interesting discovery that links a vitamin B12 deficiency to hypothyroidism. The symptoms of a lack of B12 can actually mimic the symptoms of a thyroid gland that is underactive. In other words, both conditions have the same symptoms. But there are even more interesting connections between the two very different kinds of conditions.

Hasimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism and is an autoimmune disease. It can actually result in damage in the intestines that can create issues in your body’s ability to properly absorb vitamin B12. The thyroid condition would be the result of the deficiency only because of how it prevents the body from absorbing the vitamin.

This is a case where hypothyroidism would be considered causing the deficiency in vitamin B12. However, the connection between the two goes much deeper than that. A deficiency in B12 can contribute to making a hypothyroid condition even worse. Researchers have found that this is why an individual with a vitamin B12 deficiency will also not respond well to treatment for hypothyroidism.

How The Conditions Can Be Properly Detected

The most reliable method to correctly distinguish the difference between the symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency and hypothyroidism is through blood tests. Some medical professionals can tell the difference but the only way to be completely certain is through blood examination. This allows for a correct diagnosis which leads to much quicker treatments.

How Vitamin B12 Deficiencies Are Treated

In the case of severe vitamin B12 deficiencies there are two normal ways in which doctors will treat the condition. One involves the requirement of injections of vitamin B12. These injections would be on a weekly basis to quickly rectify the situation. A high dose of a supplement would be the other common method. Less serious deficiencies are usually remedied with the addition of a daily multivitamin.

Precautions

Because the symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency and underactive thyroid can be the same, this is why it is vitally important to seek medical attention once you start to show some of the signs. Some of the symptoms include: dry, cold and yellowish skin, thinning and coarse hair, the inability to tolerate cold, brittle toe and finger nails, slowed body movements, feelings of weakness, tired or sluggish, mental issues and constipation.

If you are suffering from a number of these symptoms, you may have hypothyroidism or a vitamin B12 deficiency. If you are not suffering these symptoms but wish to prevent a vitamin B12 deficiency from developing, examine your daily diet. You are at higher risk of developing this condition if you are a strict vegan or have had stomach stapling surgery to deal with weight issues.

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