Calcium and Thyroid Medicine and Surgery

Tess Thompson

Even though the thyroid is small in size, it is one of the larger glands in the endocrine system that is comprised of other glands like the pituitary, adrenal, pineal and thymus, besides the pancreas and testicles in males and ovaries in women. In males, the thyroid is located just below the thyroid cartilage, commonly known as the Adam’s apple.

Two of the three hormones (T3 and T4) secreted by the thyroid control the body’s metabolism, and therefore determine how quickly the body burns energy, produces proteins and controls the sensitivity to other hormones. The third hormone, calcitonin, plays a major role in maintaining the metabolic equilibrium of calcium. This is done through the management of biological mechanisms that operate via the autonomic nervous system to offset disrupting changes. The parathyroid hormone (PTH), released by the parathyroid, is responsible for maintaining adequate levels of calcium in the blood.

Considering the wide range of duties that the thyroid hormones perform, it is more than evident that symptoms of thyroid problems can surface in practically any part of the body. The sad part is that most doctors often fail to connect them with thyroid dysfunction. And what is worse is that many times, doctors either do not know or fail to mention that consumption of calcium can interfere with the absorption of thyroid medicine. This is one of the reasons why many people do not respond to thyroid treatment.

If the level of calcium in the blood increases, the follicular cells in the thyroid release calcitonin to stimulate the movement of extra calcium in the blood. Calcium in the blood, however, is controlled by the parathyroid. During thyroid surgery, care has to be taken to avoid damage to the adjacent parathyroid glands. Accidental removal may require daily supplemental doses of calcium and vitamin D to maintain adequate levels of calcium in blood.

Medication for an under-active thyroid (hypothyroidism) involves thyroid supplements, some of which contain desiccated thyroid sourced from animals. Taking a thyroid supplement requires regular monitoring to check and stabilize the level of thyroid hormones. The level needs to be arrived at to avoid the occurrence of symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid). This thyroid condition is associated with the excessive excretion of calcium through the urine and stool, resulting in the weakening of bones and osteoporosis. Surgical treatment and radiation therapy to treat hyperthyroidism can lead to an under-active thyroid due to over correction. Supplemental hormones may also be advised in such cases, requiring similar precautions.

Calcium is essential for cell physiology. It is a major mineral used in the mineralization of bones. Thyroid disease and medication can have a major affect of body structures. Thyroid medication should not be taken along with supplemental calcium and many other trace minerals. If you have thyroid problems, it will be prudent to discuss this matter with your physician. There may also be a need for some modification in your diet.

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