Tag Archives: THYROID

Categories THYROID


Thyroid Conditions

This may sound like a very ‘specific’ blog post and that’s because it is. It’s inspired by a few recent client cases who share similar pathology results, namely sub-optimal thyroid performance, compromised iron levels and undesirable cholesterol profiles. The relationship between these 3 markers is actually intertwined. Fixing one can not be done completely without fixing the others, so let’s take a ‘whole-istic’ look at how they interrelate. 

The Thyroid and Cardiovascular Health

Studies demonstrating the correlation between sub optimal thyroid function and poor cardiovascular health markers go back decades. A recent paper published in 2014 (1), compared 31 people with hypothyroidism and 58 controls (i.e. 58 people with healthy thyroids). 82% of those with hypothyroidism had metabolic syndrome* compared with 27% of those in the control group. Waist circumference, BMI and fasting triglycerides* were also higher in those with poor thyroid function. From studies like this, we can conclude that poor thyroid function can and does alter cardiovascular functions including:

  • blood pressure regulation
  • blood sugar regulation
  • serum triglycerides
  • HDL cholesterol (those with hypothyroidism tend to have significantly lower levels of HDL cholesterol – often referred to as ‘the good’ cholesterol.)


We don’t understand all of the intricacies between the thyroid and the cardiovascular system as yet. However, remember that the thyroid influences every cell in the body and essentially dictates the metabolism. With this in mind, it’s not difficult to imagine how thyroid health and cardiovascular health depend on each other to maintain normality.

[*Metabolic syndrome: a cluster of conditions that often go together indicating the development of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Includes high blood pressure, high blood triglycerides, insulin resistance, low HDL and higher than healthy waist circumference. A ‘wake up’ call to change the diet and lifestyle before more serious conditions arise. Triglycerides: level of ‘free fats’ floating around the blood essentially. Higher than normal levels indicate a higher risk of atherosclerosis i.e. plaque building up in the arteries raising the risk of stroke and heart attack]

Thyroid Function and Iron Levels

This relationship is a like the ‘chicken or the egg’ situation. Is it a sluggish thyroid that leads to poor iron levels or is it the other way round? I don’t see how we will ever know for sure and it most likely differs from person to person, however the two commonly present together. Here’s the deal.

  • Poor thyroid function can reduce the secretion of gastric acid and compromise digestion overall. This means mineral absorption including iron will be compromised which will lead to low iron levels and eventually anemia.
  • Iron is required as a co-factor for the production of thyroid hormones including T4 and T3. What this means essentially is that without optimal iron levels, T3 and T4 levels will not be adequate and TSH levels will rise above normal. This IS hypothyroidism.

So you can see how suboptimal thyroid performance can lead to iron deficiency and you can also see how iron deficiency may lead to hypothyroidism.

[My research for this article led me to an interesting study (2) examining Nepalese children. The paper showed a much higher (5 fold) risk of hypothyroidism in children with iron deficiency than those with normal iron levels. This highlights the importance of maternal nutrition during and after pregnancy as well as pediatric nutrition – a topic to be ‘parked’ for now as it would lead to far too many tangents.]

Iron and Cardiovascular Health

Iron is an important component of hemoglobin, which are the cells that carry oxygen around to other tissues in the body. Generally, when iron levels are sub optimal hemoglobin levels are also low. Can you imagine that your heart will need to work quite a bit harder in order to oxygenate your body without adequate hemoglobin levels? Consider the corresponding impact of this on your blood pressure too. This is the tip of the iceberg, simply to give you some indication of the relationship between iron and your ticker. The effects of low iron on cardiovascular health are much more extensive than this and well documented (3).

This Clinical Picture

Hopefully now, you can begin to understand why this picture presents itself so often in the one person. They are not separate problems to be dealt with singularly or one at a time. The ‘whole-istic’ approach acknowledges that they are intertwined and so must be the treatment.

You can imagine how this picture would feel in a person. Both low iron and sub-optimal thyroid leads to fatigue and even depression… add to this a stressed heart and poor blood oxygen levels and you can understand why getting out of bed everyday is equal to running a marathon. The weight can stack on (thanks to the thyroid) and this will further compromise cardiovascular health, raising triglyceride levels, increasing blood pressure and further compromising blood sugar control. The stress was bad before; its now insurmountable. Not to mention the colds and infections that hit every other week (low iron = compromised immune health).

So it’s probably not a picture one wants to ignore for long. It will get worst if it’s left untreated.

Who do you know that may fit this presentation? Pass this along to a loved one if you think it might help them in some way. Read more about nutrients and thyroid conditions here.

Nutrition hey? Who knew we were more than just the sum of a whole heap of parts? And who knew nutrients had anything to do with health?

[Note: a general pathology test is unlikely to cover full thyroid, iron and cardiovascular studies. One of these markers may be detected as abnormal, but it does not necessarily mean that more thorough testing will be run automatically. Most often this case presentation is ‘uncovered’ because the person is certain there is ‘something more’ as a result of the symptoms they are experiencing. ]

  1. R Haque, S Ferdousi, SS Ferdousi, W Rahman, MN Uddin, MM Hoque, (2014). ‘Metabolic Syndrome in Hypothyroid Patients’ Bangladesh Journal of Medical Biochemistry.DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3329/bjmb.v7i2.22414
  2. Saroj Khatiwada, Basanta GelalNirmal Baraland Madhab Lamsal. (2016). ‘Association between iron status and thyroid function in Nepalese children.’ Thyroid Research. DOI: 10.1186/s13044-016-0031-0
  3. Nikita Hegde, MD, Michael W. Rich, MD, and Charina Gayomali, MD. (2006).  ‘The Cardiomyopathy of Iron Deficiency.’ Texas Heart Institute Journal. Availablehere: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1592266/