The thyroid gland is a small critical organ that functions to balance your metabolism and other body functions and maintain body homeostatis. This small butterfly-shaped gland maintains a link to the brain through hormones secreted by the pituitary gland and in turn secretes hormones that affect the body. Thyroid hormones also affect nutrient absorption and use by the body. The thyroid hormone calcitonin affects the levels of calcium in your bloodstream. This important mineral is vital for bone, heart, nerve and muscle health. Your doctor can assess your thyroid health and treat related nutrient issues.
Calcium is an important essential mineral that is primarily found in your bones. It is also needed for healthy muscle, nerve and blood-clotting function. Each of your cells also contains this nutrient, and calcium is important for muscle contractions, including those of the heart. The website Lab Tests Online notes that low levels of calcium in your bloodstream can cause your cardiac muscle contractions to weaken and slow down, while high levels can result in a rapid heart rate. Fluctuations in calcium levels can also cause your skeletal muscles to spasm in a condition called tetany, cause mental confusion and even a coma. It is important to monitor calcium levels in patients who have chronic or severe illness to prevent these serious complications.
The thyroid gland is the small endocrine organ located below the larynx, or voice box, at the front of the neck. This gland produces important hormones that help your body orchestrate several critical functions, including metabolism to produce energy and regulate nutrient levels in your bloodstream. The Nemours Foundation notes that the thyroid gland is stimulated to produce hormones in response to messages from the brain through the pituitary gland. However, in thyroid disorders these metabolic functions are disrupted, causing symptoms such as fatigue, low energy, inability to balance body temperature and mood swings. Levels of calcium and other nutrients can also be affected. There are four main types of thyroid disorders. Hyperthyroidism results in excess thyroid hormone production, while hypothyroidism causes too little. Thyroid cancer and benign or non-cancerous thyroid disease also cause fluctuations in hormone production.
Vitamin D and Calcium
Other essential nutrients can affect your calcium levels as well. Vitamin D has many critical functions in the body including regulating your calcium levels. Dr. Theodore C. Friedman notes that patients with hypothyroidism often have low levels of vitamin D due to poor absorption of this nutrient from the small intestine or reduced ability to synthesize and activate vitamin D effectively. The NIH Osteoporosis and Natural Bone Diseases National Resource Center notes that low levels of vitamin D result in reduced production of the hormone calcitriol. This leads to a deficiency in calcium absorption from the intestines and a loss of calcium from your bones. Hence, it is important for individuals with hypothyroidism to have both vitamin D and calcium levels monitored as well as bone density scans to assess health.
A hormone called calcitonin is secreted by the thyroid gland and works in conjunction with parathyroid hormone, or PTH, which is secreted by the parathyroid gland to maintain blood serum calcium levels. Calcitonin works to reduce the amount of calcium your body takes from its own bones. Parathyroid hormone acts to increase blood calcium levels by absorption from bones and the intestines and by stimulating the kidneys to retain more calcium. When the function of the thyroid gland is disrupted causing imbalances in calcitonin production, calcium levels will also fluctuate.
Is This an Emergency?
- Lab Tests Online: Calcium
- Nemours Foundation: Endocrine System
- Good Hormone Health: Dr. Theodore C. Friedman: Vitamin D Deficiency and Thyroid Disease
- Acu-Cell Nutrition: Calcium and Magnesium
- NIH Osteoporosis and Natural Bone Diseases National Resource Center: Calcium and Vitamin D: Important at Every Age