Energy levels and metabolism are two of the best indicators of health and wellness. To encourage both to be at their best, thyroid health and vitamin B-12 intake should be closely monitored. A sluggish thyroid, or hypothyroidism, may cause vitamin B-12 deficiency and lack of B-12 can further exacerbate the slow thyroid or negatively affect energy levels.
Thyroid Gland Function
The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck. It’s in charge of the endocrine system and responsible for synthesizing thyroid hormones T3 and T4 which control metabolism and heartbeat. The gland secretes more thyroid hormone when you need a boost in energy, such as when you’re cold. That hormone boost cues your body to speed up your metabolism, or the rate at which chemical reactions occur, and this generates more heat and raises your body’s temperature. Consequently, thyroid hormones affect your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and that determines how many calories you burn while you’re at rest.
Vitamin B-12 Function
Vitamin B-12 is found in every cell of the body. It is required for cellular metabolism and energy production, the production and regulation of the DNA and for fatty acid metabolism. Unfortunately, plants and animals do not produce vitamin B-12.
Hypothyroidism and Vitamin B-12
Experts believe that 4.6% of the U.S. population age 12 and up suffers from hypothyroidism. Many people suffering from hypothyroidism are prescribed thyroid hormone replacement or other thyroid drugs. Of the two thyroid hormones, T3 is widely regarded to be clinically more effective than T4. However, even with T3 replacement, some patients do not fully recover from the symptoms of their deficiency.
Recent clinical data suggests vitamin B-12 deficiency as a cause. Hypothyroidism can compromise your ability to absorb vitamin B-12 and vitamin B-12 deficiency worsens hypothyroidism. Unfortunately, both deficiencies can go unnoticed and can be difficult to diagnose.
Some of the symptoms shared by both deficiencies include depression, lethargy, fatigue, disturbed sleep pattern and memory impairment. Where both deficiencies occur, vitamin B-12 supplementation must be paired with thyroid hormone replacement or drugs to fully resolve symptoms.
A study published in The Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association focused on the co-occurrence of the two deficiencies. Researchers evaluated the signs and markers of vitamin B-12 deficiency in 116 patients suffering from hypothyroidism.
The results of the study showed a high prevalence of vitamin B-12 deficiency among hypothyroid patients. In fact, 40% of the hypothyroid patients also suffered from vitamin B-12 deficiency. The researchers also noted that the classic signs of vitamin B-12 deficiency were insufficient for diagnosing this deficiency in hypothyroid patients. Instead, they recommended the screening of all hypothyroid patients for vitamin B-12 deficiency.
Vitamin B-12 Supplementation
Vitamin B12 deficiency can be treated with vitamin B-12 supplements. These are available in different forms including pills, melts, liquids, nasal spray, dermal patch and injections. Mild vitamin B-12 deficiency can still be treated with dietary sources of the vitamin. Those include lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products and fortified cereals.