First For Women



Vitamin D shortfalls raise the risk of thyroid slowdowns by up to 70%, report researcher­s in BMC Endocrinol­ogy. “Vitamin D is essential for thyroid function,” says Richard L. Shames, M.D., author of Thyroid Power and creator of ThyroidPow­ “It has to be present at sufficient levels for thyroid hormone to do its energizing work.” So when deficits occur (as they do in up to 79% of women with a slow thyroid), fatigue often follows. Plus, new research links low D to Hashimoto’s, a top cause of thyroid slowdowns.

Adding to the problem: Because vitamin D is crucial for thyroid hormone to function efficientl­y, shortfalls can keep women who take thyroid medication from healing. Dr. Shames estimates that correcting low D levels has optimized thyroid treatment for more than 50% of his patients.

Doctors can run blood tests to test vitamin D levels, and home tests are available at If your D level is less than 50 ng/dL, the steps below can shore up stores to optimize thyroid function and restore energy.

Supplement­ing with vitamin D is key, especially in the winter, when levels dip by 62%. Dr. Shames advises taking up to 6,000 IU of D-3 if your levels are below 20 ng/DL, retesting after a few months and lowering your daily dose to 2,000 IU once levels reach 50 ng/dL. And opt for oil-based capsules. In a study at Atlanta’s Emory University, capsules lifted levels of the vitamin 47% more than tablets.

Eating magnesium-rich foods like nuts, seeds and leafy greens can help, says Dr. Shames. Indeed, research at Vanderbilt University in Nashville finds that magnesium activates enzymes that enhance the body’s ability to metabolize D.

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