Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Thyroid Problems, Vitamin A and Cod Liver Oil

I have never been able to find a multi vitamin that worked for my daughter. In fact, she was sickest when she was on compounded vitamins through a nutritionist. On the compounded vitamins she had strep (twice) and a virus and looked horrible. I begged our pediatrician to do further testing and told him there was something wrong. He was nice, but he really didn't know what tests to run and to him she was just another sick kid. Another doctor in the practice said it was because she had celiac she wasn't growing and was constantly sick. But, my instincts told me there was something else going on.

Further testing with a doctor who specializes in thyroid problems revealed that my daughter had high beta carotene levels and low vitamin A--her body wasn't converting the beta carotene into vitamin A. Not converting beta carotene into vitamin A is a sign of a thyroid problem or a subclinical thyroid problem. High beta carotene and low vitamin A are not the only signs of an underactive thyroid--her thin hair, mood problems, puffy face and puffy eyes and poor growth were all are suggestive of a thyroid problem. Interestingly, when my daughter was sick with a fever she complained of he eyes hurting, which is sign of low vitamin A levels.

It turns out viruses--including the measles virus--can lower your vitamin A levels and low vitamin A levels to begin with can make it hard to fight the virus. According to the World Health Organization on Measles: "Vitamin A supplements have been shown to reduce the number of deaths from measles by 50%." Theoretically, most people are not deficient in Vitamin A--because if you can convert beta carotene into vitamin A--then a half a carrot a day will be enough vitamin A, but if you are not making the conversion because of a thyroid problem, you can become low in vitamin A. Environmental toxins such as pesticides can cause hypothyroidism so low thyroid levels might be a bigger problem today than they were in the past.

I suspected a thyroid problem a year ago and took her to an endocrinologist, who determined that her thyroid level of 3.75 was normal because it was in the normal range. But in January 2003 the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists decided the range should actually be 0.3 to 3 and based on her high TSH and many symptoms she should have been treated for a thyroid problem last year. One doctor that I spoke to said anyone with a TSH over 2.25 with a severe mood problems should suspect a low thyroid and consider treatment.

It is interesting that now that my daughter is on thyroid medication several doctors have looked at her previous test and wondered why she was left untreated for the last year. In addition to the thyroid medication we have her on cod liver oil--which is a natural form of vitamin A. She looks better and is healthier. I wouldn't say she is the picture of health--but she is so much better than she was and her puffy face and eyes have lessened. Thyroid medicine doesn't work for everyone. Oprah felt horrible on thyroid medication and I felt horrible on a compounded thyroid hormone and completely well on a mainstream thyroid hormone. So supplementation can be tricky--you really need exactly the right hormone level to feel well--and this is more of an art than a science.


Betsy said...

My older son is now on Synthroid. He had hardly grown in years and at the age of 9 was often confused for 5 year old. I kept pushing for more testing and finally one doctor tested the thyroid antibodies and found them to be high. He has grown more in the last year than in the previous 3 put together. He also feels better and looks healthier.

Now my younger son has a very low T4 and a borderline TSH level (would not be considered borderline by the numbers you used, but our VERY old school endo will not look at the new numbers) and I am wondering if he is next to get on thyroid meds. I figure it will happen eventually since generally their labs are almost identical.

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Shelini said...

Since giving birth am on too much Synthriod and my hair lose is crazy still working with doc on med, I've been taking cod liver oil and it feels great to know all the great things about it..

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natural desiccated thyroid said...

It is possible to avoid thyroid disease with proper diet and natural thyroid treatment. A good diet plus natural thyroid supplements can go a long way in keeping the thyroid gland in healthy condition.

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