An alarming number of patients suffering low thyroid- hypothyroidism- may actually have underlying anemia from vitamin B12 deficiency, according to studies. How can you tell the difference between low vitamin B12 and low thyroid?
In a study focusing on vitamin B12 deficiency and hypothyroidism, scientists noted that nearly 40% of patients receiving treatment for low thyroid functioning also had significantly low levels of vitamin B12.
Thyroid and vitamin B12- what’s the link?
Researchers from the Aga Khan University in Pakistan observed 116 patients of hypothyroid and tested them for signs of vitamin B12 deficiency. They found that 46 patients with low thyroid disorder also had significantly low levels of vitamin B12.
- Many, but not all, hypothyroid patients with vitamin B12 deficiency reported symptoms that were consistent with low vitamin B12 levels- extreme fatigue, memory loss, painful numbness and tingling in the extremities, weak muscles, and slow reflexes.
- Other hypothyroid patients also reported similar symptoms, but had normal levels of serum vitamin B12.
- Still, telltale symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency were not always prevalent, despite blood test results indicating severe depletion of vitamin B12 in the blood supply.
- After receiving vitamin B12 supplementation for six months, both groups of hypothyroid patients, those with vitamin B12 deficiency and those with normal vitamin B12 levels, noticed a decline in symptoms related to vitamin B12 deficiency anemia.
It’s uncertain exactly why hypothyroid patients are prone to vitamin B12 deficiency, but it may result from two risk factors:
- Anti-thyroid antibodies: Sometimes, pernicious anemia, a common form of vitamin B12 deficiency, occurs because of an autoimmune dysfunction. History of autoimmune disorders therefore increases your risk of developing intrinsic factor antibodies that lead to pernicious anemia.
- Gastrointestinal disorders: Digestive problems, comorbid with thyroid disorders, often interfere with vitamin B12 absorption, resulting in depletion of vitamin B12 levels in the blood.
Why do we need vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is crucial for many important biochemical functions, including maintaining nervous system integrity, producing red blood cells needed to deliver oxygen, converting carbohydrates into energy, and metabolizing DNA.
Initially, when vitamin B12 levels drop, you may notice symptoms such as tiredness, depression, anxiety, and “pins and needles,” including painful numbness and tingling in the arms and legs.
Over time, your stores of vitamin B12 can slowly deplete to a dangerous low, increasing your risk for progressively debilitating ailments, such as dizziness, heart palpitations, extreme fatigue, brain fog, muscle pain, and difficulty controlling arm and leg movements.
Some of these symptoms may mimic signs of low thyroid, so it’s crucial to get tested for vitamin B12 deficiency often, especially if you already battle with hypothyroidism.
To treat vitamin B12, you may require a regimen of non-dietary supplements consisting of at least 1,000mcg of vitamin B12.
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