Tuesday, March 5, 2024

B Vitamins and Thyroid


The basic B-complex consists of a group of eight water-soluble compounds: thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), cobalamin (vitamin B12), folate (vitamin B9), and biotin (vitamin B7). Although each B vitamin is chemically distinct, they often work together in various biochemical functions throughout the body, from cellular energy production to healthy red blood cell formation to healthy neurological function. Most B vitamins, with the exception of vitamin B12, are not stored in the body. They must be acquired daily from the diet in order to maintain optimal health. Supplementing with bioactive B vitamins (e.g., methyl folate) is important to everyone, especially individuals who may not be able to convert inactive or synthetic vitamins to their active forms in the liver because of compromised liver function, poorly functioning enzymes, digestive disturbances, genetics, or age. Dietary supplements containing these active cofactors have enhanced bioavailability, ensuring the body gets the nutrients it needs. Every process that goes on inside our bodies requires energy, specifically metabolic energy. When the body does not have enough energy to function properly, different components of the body may malfunction in their own ways. For example, if the brain does not have enough energy, cognitive processes, such as memory and focus, may become impaired. The body converts fats, sugars, and proteins into ATP that is then used for energy. However, there are other factors involved that can affect how well our body can  make this conversion into the ATP molecules. 


The thyroid hormones are essential in maintaining and regulating the body’s metabolism. The thyroid gland makes the hormone T4 (thyroxine). T4 converts to T3 (triiodothyronine) and RT3 (reverse T3, rT3). T3 turns on the ATP (energy), while RT3 is a way to get rid of any unneeded T4, thus reducing energy output. This happens because the adrenal glands are too weak to handle the stress of the body’s normal metabolic energy and force a downregulation of energy production. Triiodothyronine (T3) is the most active thyroid hormone. Approximately 85% of circulating T3 is produced by mono-deiodination of thyroxine (T4) in tissues such as the liver, muscle, and kidney. Production of these thyroid hormones is controlled by TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone), which is released by the pituitary gland in the brain. The pituitary takes its orders from the hypothalamus. The adrenal glands, located on top of each kidney, help the  body deal with stress. If the metabolic activity is excessive, the adrenals perceive this as stress. In response to this stress, the hypothalamus will signal the pituitary to produce less TSH, thus producing decreased T4 and thyroid activity. This metabolic control activity utilizes various enzymes whose main cofactors are B-complex vitamins. Lack of B vitamins may lead to hypothyroidism because the thyroid gland cannot make enough T4. Hypothyroidism is a condition in which an underactive thyroid gland produces less than optimal amounts of thyroid hormone. A lack of the thyroid hormones can lead to fatigue, constipation, hoarse voice, puffy face, unexplained weight gain, pain and stiffness in the joints, muscle weakness, sensitivity to cold, elevated cholesterol levels, brittle nails, and depression. Hypothyroidism has also been linked to other health issues, such as heart disease, infertility, autoimmunity, and obesity. Metabolic correctors, along with proper nutrition, should come first in medical treatment. Knowledge of the safe and effective use of nutrient combinations, enzymes, hormones, and other naturally occurring molecules in their bioactive forms is essential to ensure an effective outcome. However, some patients may need more acute treatment for their particular condition, for which pharmacological therapy is recommended. Metabolic correctors have a low risk of toxicity. Pharmacological drugs often carry a risk of negative side effects and, in a chronic condition, should be the second choice if there is a metabolic correction alternative available.

Integrative and Functional Medical Nutrition Therapy by: Diane Noland, Jeanne A. Drisko, Leigh Wagner