Top 3 Lab tests I do if we Suspect its Your Thyroid
Today I had a patient come in who told me a story I hear over and over: She was feeling run down, knows she is overwhelmed and stressed at work, and has "hasn't felt herself in years". She suspected her thyroid. I did a health history and we ran the lab tests which included the 5-point thyroid test (which your not likely to get with your family physician) and in her case, the DUTCH 24-hour urine panel, to see when her body was making its hormones, and if they had shifted, or were lower at night and therefore keeping her awake.
Here's the deal. If you let yourself get burnt out or run down, because life events happen, and maybe you're not eating enough protein or taking time to rest each day, then couple-that with a stressful job or life-stage and you get the recipe for how almost all auto-immune diseases start (the other way is if you have an infection, or a genetic predisposition). The following are the top 3 nutrients that I check for in every suspected hashimoto's, graves, or hypothyroidism patient.
The Top 3 Lab Tests to Add to Any Thyroid Bloodwork Panel:
1. Ferritin (Iron)
Low iron levels are sabotaging to the functional aspect of the thyroid, of supporting energy production in the mitochondria, and muscle function. We can test iron levels by looking at stored iron in our body called ferritin. The normal reference range for ferritin is from 10-291 ng/mL for women. Men, message me here if you are fatigued, your muscles hurt after working out, and your always feeling run down, as your iron levels may also be at play, but your reference range is different.
I often have my patients work their ferritin levels up to over 40, ideally aiming for as high as you can get. You won't be alerted to an abnormal level if your iron is at 12, but you will also be functioning with a iron level at just above the cut-off. And why leave such a functional aspect of your body with no room for stress, getting sick, or otherwise? Even if you are not formally diagnosed with anemia, you can still benefit from raising your iron stores to above 40. You'll see this benefit if you always have low energy, hair loss, always feeling cold, weak or brittle nails, palpitations or shortness of breath, brain fog and more.
Take the guess work out of knowing if your thyroid is under-functioning and keeping you cold, making your nails weak & brittle, giving you hair loss and low-energy, by getting your ferritin levels checked.
If you experience heavy menstrual periods, are vegan/vegetarian, or have a chronic digestive disorder it’s even more important to have your ferritin assessed on a regular basis.
2. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 deficiency is frequently reported in those with thyroid conditions and I certainly see this on a daily basis. In fact, a 2014 study stated that over 55% of patients with an autoimmune thyroid condition had low B12 levels. Signs of too little Vitamin B12 can include fatigue, weakness, memory loss, anemia, and tingling in the hands or feet.
We get all of our B12 from our diet in the form of animal products (plants do not contain B12), so again, if you are vegan or vegetarian you definitely need to have your B12 checked.
Another condition called Pernicious Anemia, commonly co-exists with autoimmune thyroid disorders. If you have pernicious anemia, your body is unable to absorb B12 from any food source, and you will require consistent supplementation.
3. Vitamin D
Most of us know that Vitamin D can be helpful for our immune system for preventing colds and flu, but it is also an essential vitamin for preventing and healing thyroid conditions. Also, when patients go into remission post-cancer treatment, the naturopathic standard is to get your vitamin D levels up and over 150 nmol/L. So if we know it is that powerful, it's important to test then supplement.
Low vitamin D levels have been implicated in the development, severity AND progression of autoimmune thyroid conditions such as Hashimoto's Disease and Grave's disease. Vitamin D can also be anti-inflammatory for the thyroid and has a role in reducing thyroid specific antibodies.
Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency can include fatigue, muscle/joint pain, and frequent colds and infections. Our body makes it's own Vitamin D but only with exposure to the sun - and a specific percentage of skin surface area exposed at that. I know I don't get enough, so I will happily supplement.
Test, don't guess!
Blood lab tests and urine lab tests are available to help understand what your baseline levels are, and to use as a tool to track your progress towards meeting your body's needs and moving into maintenance mode. I do all these tests in the clinic. Pricing ranges from $65-$1200/test.
Ask your naturopathic doctor what tests are available for you. If you don't know, you can't grow.