Saturday, March 08, 2008

Here's to your health!

Have you ever decided to add something to your daily regimen, make a change to your diet or aim to build a seemingly healthy new habit into your life?

I have. Over the last six months or so. And because I was armed with all but one very small, but very important, piece of information, my plan nearly backfired.

What did I do? Well, it won't seem as exciting as I've built it up to be, but just wait for the punch line. I decided sometime during the early Fall to begin regularly taking a multi-vitamin. Great, right? It's probably written in every primer on nutrition and health on the market, isn't it? And I, with the exception of when I was pregnant or nursing, had been woefully lax in adhering to this simple rule. I was, I assured myself, quite possibly the only adult female in America, NOT taking her Iron, Calcium and other womanly important mineral laden vitamin. So, I started. I selected a very simple vitamin, ensuring that it met the daily requirements for a nearing middle-age (ahem) woman.

After a few weeks, I wasn't noticing any major changes in my health--for good or for bad, but I soldiered on with my health maintenance. But as time went on, I started feeling sluggish. I had a doctor's visit only to find that five additional pounds had found their way onto my new, healthy self--without any of the joy of eating more. Within the last several weeks, however, I was taking tired to a whole new level. I'd go to sleep exhausted and wake up even moreso.

Then, by a stroke of luck, I happened to see the results of a blood test I had done in late October, to check my TSH level (that's thyroid stimulating hormone for you healthy folk). **Ed. Note: I've had hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) for over a decade and have my blood tested and medication adjusted twice a year.** Why is this important, you might be asking? Why do we care about the results of your blood work, you say? Well, I'll tell you why. Because it just so happens that my TSH level in late October was nearly '5', which is considered in the normal range, but for someone with my thyroid condition, a level between 0 and 2.5 is the ideal. The only time my thyroid levels fluctuate are during pregnancy and since it's already March, I can confirm beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was simply NOT pregnant in late October. What, I then wondered, could have caused this change? When suddenly, it hit me. I had a vague notion about some long forgotten information about thyroid medication and its interaction with multi-vitamins. Sure enough, when I got home I was able to confirm that thyroid medication (Synthroid, et al.) should be taken at least 2 and in some cases 4 hours apart from a multi-vitamin. Why? Because the minerals in the multi-vitamin--specifically the minerals iron and calcium--lower and, even potentially block, the absorption of the thyroid hormone!

No wonder I was tired...and gaining weight...and a host of other hypothyroid-related symptoms...EVEN though I was religiously taking my thyroid medication. Why am I sharing this? Because it occurred to me that it's quite possible that if I, who have been on this medication for over ten years, didn't know immediately about this interaction, there might be someone else who could benefit from hearing my story.

I hope someone does. And, for the record, I'm feeling much better after less than a week of properly spacing these two daily doses! If you're interested, you can read more about this here, here and, regarding TSH levels and prenatal vitamins, here ( specifically the last paragraph).

1 comment:

Stina said...

I'm glad you figured it out and are feeling better!!!