11 September 2020

When Your Health Turns On You: #Hypothyroidism --- 8: Vitamin D – The Results!

Vitamin D3 capsule

It’s been a while, 20 April to be precise, since my last post in this series. But it has been worth the wait – on a personal front, and a Covid-19 front. The results are in!

The backstory for those just joining me:

During 2017 I was suffering lots of weird health symptoms, the most concerning being that my brain refused to function properly – hardly a useful trait in a novelist. April 2018 a lump developed on my neck: a swelling on my thyroid. A GP’s blood tests indicated I might develop Hypothyroidism, whereas symptoms and antibodies emphasised that I was suffering Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism, an autoimmune disorder. There are lots of autoimmune disorders – a common denominator tends to be a low Vitamin D level.

Note: I’m British and live in the UK. We have a National Health Service, free at the point of access, paid for via our taxes. Your mileage may differ, even if you live in the UK.

For the reasoning as to why, in January 2020, I joined a Facebook Vitamin D Support Group, you’ll need to read the back posts listed at the bottom of this page. In February I started on its suggested Protocol: a careful ratio of fairly high level Vitamin D3 and three ancillary balancing co-factors. I added in an Omega-3 capsule, a multi-vitamin & mineral tablet for my age group, which I’d been taking for over a year, this on top of my blood pressure medication. Yes, I rattled.

In March I had to take time off this cocktail when I had a hip replacement operation, but continued as soon as I was free of its medications and their side effects. The intention had been to take the Protocol for four months and then pay for a private finger-prick blood test (currently £39), but Covid-19 made an appearance – thankfully not in my family – and my mind focused on other things.

So it was the very end of July before I realised I was late with my intended test. I believe in stopping for at least a week beforehand any supplements. If I kept up supplementation to the hour of the blood test the result would be distorted.

14th August I had my result: 124nmol/L. I was ecstatic! I knew the supplementation was having an effect as I had been feeling so much better, more me. Back in May 2019 my level had been 48nmol/L. The given “within range” in the UK is 50-175nmol/L whereas the body needs it at 75+ to work at cell level. My level was now optimal. No wonder I was feeling better; no wonder the main swelling on my thyroid (I have one on each lobe) had diminished so much as to be almost unnoticeable. Hurrah!

The decision became: should I stay on the full supplementation level or drop the dosage, and if so, by how much so as to produce a maintenance level? Within days the decision was taken for me. An odd, slightly sore throat became a prominent sore throat, I had an increase in phlegm and the return of a nasal drip (all flags for hypothyroidism), and the swelling on my thyroid started to increase in size. Damnit.

I took advice from the Vitamin D Support Group and immediately the answer came back: Vitamin D has a half-life of approximately three weeks. If it is not constantly topped up, via sunshine on skin and/or supplementation, its potency fades. It was August, the height of the British summer. Damnit.

So I went back on the supplementation, though not quite at the high level I’d been on. I have, however, stayed with the same amount of co-factors, plus the multi-vitamin & mineral tablet and the Omega-3 capsule. Within the week the sore throat had abated, and the phlegm is gradually lessening.  It is my intention to pay for a full Thyroid & main vitamin panel blood test in early November, and depending on that result I’ll increase or maintain the supplementation level over winter.

November is when I usually have my annual “full” [pause for laughter] blood tests done by the GP to monitor my blood pressure medications, so we will be having a discussion about my Vitamin D level. Not that the results from privately bought blood tests will be added to my NHS record – y’know, in case I’m rushed into hospital and the medics want a “full” history of my health – but that’s a whole different argument I’m not going into here.

More important, at the top of this post I mentioned Covid-19 + Vitamin D results. While contemplating this post I watched a YouTube video by Dr John Campbell, who I’ve mentioned in previous posts, a lot in updates to Post 7. His video Covid-19: Vitamin D, First Clinical Trial uploaded on 6th September should be required watching for everyone, whether or not you have underlying health issues.

In the video he talks about a pilot trial run in one hospital in Cordoba, Spain, where a small number of patients admitted with Covid-19 and who had a low level of Vitamin D registered in the previous year were split into two groups. Both were given the hospital’s best available therapy for Covid-19, but one group had an added ‘active’ Vitamin-D. Out of both groups fourteen patients had to be transferred to ICU, but only one of those had been given Vitamin-D; the other 13 hadn't. The video is 27 minutes long, the eye-opener at 15 minutes, so watch until at least that point. It might save your life, or the life of someone you love.

As Dr Campbell asks, why isn't the UK initiating trials? Why isn't the World Health Organisation? I'd like to know why my region's Clinical Commissioning Group refuses to allow GPs to request testing for Vitamin D.


UPDATE 15 September:  The East Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group held its AGM online due to Covid-19, so I put that very question. As expected the response was a pat dismissal and buck-passing to Public Health England and NICE.

UPDATE 01 October: Dr John Campbell has a very interesting video "Vitamin D News & Science". Go watch https://youtu.be/B01ZlRfMnmU 

UPDATE 06 November: The result from my privately purchased Vitamin-D test shows 109nmol/L, down from 124nmol/L in early August, despite my being on a high-dose supplementation throughout.
Q: so what has changed? A: lack of sunshine due autumn.
What would have been the drop if I hadn't been taking a high-dose supplementation? It doesn't bear thinking about.


Image from PublicDomainPictures via Pixabay

 When Your Health Turns On You #Hypothyroidism series:

1: Symptoms
2: Vitamins & Minerals
3: Blood Tests
4: Vitamin Co-Factors & the Microbiome
5: Functional Medicine & YouTube
6: Covid-19 Coronavirus 

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