Advice on supplements please

I was diagnosed hypothyroid last October with a TSH result of 7.03 (range 0.27-4.2) and what I think were results for t3 and t4 of 2.88 (range 1.8- 4.6) and 1.2 (range 0.7 - 1.8) respectively. I'm not certain about the last 2 as my printout is in Catalan (I live in Spain) and I only speak spanish. I also had raised Cholesterol 243 in a range of 180 - 240, very different from the UK range, I know!

My Dr put me on 50 mcg of levothyroxine and told me to come back in 3 months. I felt very much better at first. In January I had the TSH test again - result 1.72 ( same 0.27 - 4.2 range). Nothing else was tested. The Dr told me to continue with the same dose and return in July.

Although I am much improved I still have some symptoms. My hair is falling out and my skin is very dry. I don't have as much energy as I would like and I suffer terribly from insomnia. Before taking the levo I had a really sore and swollen throat. This went almost immediately I started the tablets but now it comes back once in a while. I tried talking to the Dr about it but he dismissed it. He also told me the high cholesterol was unrelated and to eat less fat.

So I've been following the posts on this site and doing some reading and I wonder if I should be taking supplements? I've read that adrenal support can help and I've seen some Nutri Advance tablets which claim to do this. The reason I've latched on to this idea is because I've suffered from a number of auto-immune problems for years - hypoglycemia, IBS and asthma. I've managed to keep them in check with probiotics and a low GI diet. I eat pretty well, little caffeine, lots of fruit and veg, not too much red meat etc. I've always thought I should be able to get everything I need from my diet but now I'm just not sure. I also wonder about selenium? I've seen tablets claiming to be thyroid support but these contain iodine and I'm wary of messing about with that.

My mother is also hypothyroid and claims to have been happy on levo for decades. Unfortunately she has exhibited symptoms during that time - such as irritability and extreme sensitivity to cold, which make me think she hasn't been treated correctly either.

I would welcome any thoughts or advice please.

13 Replies

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  • Hi Rosemaryanne

    I am afraid you will have to read and learn about hypothyroidism, like most of us on this forum have had to do. You will realise that doctors know little about how best to help us recover and feel good.

    Most doctors, like yours rely on theTSH result for a diagnosis and that doesn't help us at all. The TSH is from the Pituitary Gland and sometimes doesn't always work as doctors expect.

    You should have had a blood test after six weeks on levothyroxine, with an increase and every six weeks with an increase (if necessary) until you felt very well. 50mcg is a starting dose.

    A higher cholesterol is usual with hypothyroidism as everything in our body slows and higher cholesterol is very common. It will reduce naturally when on an optimum of medication. Your TSH is still too high for you to feel well. It should be around 1 or lower or suppressed. Doctors mistakenly believe we will have heart problems if our TSH is lower - wrong. You might get heart problems if dose isn't high enough.

    When you have a blood test for thyroid hormones you must leave approx 24 hours after taking levothyroxine before the test. Take levo afterwards. Have the test as early as possible as that's when TSH is highest and that's what doctors make their diagnosis upon. If doctor hasn't tested Vitamin B12, Vit D, iron, ferritin and folate ask for these to be done before taking any supplements. You should take levo first thing with one glass of water and don't eat for approx 1 hour as food can interfere with the uptake.

    Make a new appointment and tell your doctor you are having clinical symptoms (I hope he doesn't tell you that your hormones are o.k. and that you don't need more medication.

  • Thanks I know I'm not going to get anywhere with my Dr. I went to see him for another reason before my last test and the first thing he said was he hoped I wasn't trying to get tested early. I could buy extra levo here without prescription if that would work. I was hoping some supplements and/or dietary changes would help. When we get home to the UK next year (hopefully ) I'll be Searching for a sympathetic Dr.

  • In the meantime this is re vitamins.

    thyroiduk.org.uk/tuk/treatm...

    It is essential we have an optimum of thyroid hormones as lack of can lead to more problems, as it has a 'whole body' effect. This is another link:

    endocrineweb.com/conditions...

  • Very useful, thank you

  • Sorry, I've been thinking about this overnight. Felt so rubbish yesterday. Of course it's good advice to get tested before taking supplements. I can see that everyone is different and needs to find their own tailored treatment. I've been reading Dr Barry Durrant-Peatfield's book "Your the kid and how to keep it healthy ". Got to the symptoms of low adrenal reserve and I seem to have over half of them along with a lot of the hypothyroid symptoms. I can see there will be no quick fix. Very interested that you mentioned heart problems. My mum has recently been told she has a heart issue. This reinforces my belief that she has been under treated for years.

  • We have to read and learn unfortunately if we want to recover our health. Yes, being undertreated can cause bigger problems but it doesn't appear that the medical profession are aware of this fact. This is an excerpt:

    In most patients, then, TSH-suppressive doses of thyroid hormone don’t harm the heart. This justifies Dr. L.E. Shapiro writing in 1997, "In the absence of symptoms of thyrotoxicosis, patients treated with TSH-suppressive doses of L-T4 may be followed clinically without specific cardiac laboratory studies."[2]

    Dr. Gordon Skinner recently wrote that patients with normal thyroid test results who have symptoms and signs of hypothyroidism should be permitted undergo a trial of thyroid hormone therapy. Anticipating objections, Skinner wrote, "The dangers of osteoporosis and cardiac catastrophe—particularly during a three-month trial—are sometimes quoted, but these worries are unfounded and condemn many patients to years of hypothyroidism with its pathological complications and poor quality of life."[3] A correct interpretation of the available scientific evidence compels one to agree with Dr. Skinner.

    web.archive.org/web/2010103...

  • I do hope you didn't take your doctor's advice to eat less fat - he really is very ignorant, isn't he! The fat you eat has nothing to do with the cholesterol in your blood. Cholesterol is made in the liver. And we need it! We need to eat fat, good fat - animal fat, butter, olive oïl, coconut oïl... So, do carry on eating it. :)

    You are right that having a good diet may not be enough. Hypos very often have low stomach acid which makes it difficult for them to digest and absorb nutrients. So you could very well be low in vit B12, iron, etc. Even selenium, which is essential. However, you should get them tested first because some things can be toxic if you get too much. Iodine, for example. Never take extra iodine without getting tested, and even if you're low, Don't supplement yourself. Find a practicioner that knows what he's doing with iodine. Difficult, I know!

    However, what you can do is start taking large quantities of vit C. That can't do any harm, but can do a lot of good. It can help you absorb other things, like the iron from yor food, and the levo you take. So, pig-out on that for a start!

    Hugs, Grey

  • Yes I'm afraid he's a stereotypical Spanish male and not about to take notice of a female foreigner! The vitamin c is a great idea. I'll try that, thanks. As for the fat I agree it's ridiculous and if you could see this guy he's not exactly slim himself. I only managed to get my tsh tested because I saw a locum when he was on holiday. He was really surprised when he saw the results, didn't bother to examine me or ask about my symptoms, in fact he told me what they were and got that wrong as well!

  • I Don't know anything about Spanish males, but he sounds like the average doctor. lol

  • Doctors generally are just rubbish at understanding thyroids.

    Lets start with your TSH. Its may be acceptable in someone not taking supplements, but most hype people with no problems converting Levo still feel their best when their TSH is 1.0 or slightly below. Not that your doctor will understand the difference between normal and optimal!!! But at that level I would expect you to be better than with no Levo, but probably not the best you have ever felt!

    Going back to diet, a lot of hypthyroid folk, myself included, feel heaps better for cutting out gluten. Also make sure you get decent amounts of good fats including butter, red meat, olive oil. You need the fat to make the cholesterol to make your thyroid hormones (the reason the body raises cholesterol in hypo people).

    A lot of people are deficient, or at least not at optimal levels, in magnesium and it is worth taking a magnesium supplement. There are various ones on the market, some people don't get on with magnesium citrate or magnesium oil, and need a chelated form of the mineral. It needs its co-factors B6, whole food Vitamin C, and boron. Ordinary synthetic vitamin C (ascorbic acid) upsets the balance of Copper (complex stuff copper, you can be deficient, and toxic at the same time). Please eat liver regularly to help the right kind of copper get into the system.

    Magnesium is probably the best support for the adrenals you can take. Avoid adrenal extracts without strong evidence that you are not balanced, and under professional supervision. There are some supplements that claim to support the adrenals, but I haven't found them all that helpful. There are also a couple of herbs that are adrenal adaptogens - Rhodiola (which I take in the morning and it wakes me up somewhat) and Ashwaghanda (which I take in the evenings and it aids sleep). In most reported cases of 'Adrenal Fatigue' the adrenals themselves are working fine, its just the messaging system to them that is messed up. This usually causes sleep disturbances and all that goes with that. I have found the 'Adrenal Reset Diet' (book by Alan Christaianson) very helpful.

  • Very helpful, thanks. Where do you buy the herbs you mentioned?

  • Ebay or Amazon

  • Ok I'll look thanks

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