Thyroidectomy is the removal of all, or part, of your thyroid gland. The surgical procedure is performed to address certain diseases, like cancer, a goiter or hyperthyroidism. The thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate all aspects of metabolic functioning. Following this procedure, you need to take synthetic thyroid hormones. Certain vitamins might also help your treatment. Consult your physician before taking any vitamins or supplements following a thyroidectomy.
People without a thyroid gland might have low levels of vitamin B-12. Several research studies conducted in the 1970s and 1980s found that an underactive thyroid potentially impairs the body’s ability to absorb vitamin B-12. A study published in “The Journal of Nutrition” in 1988 looked at rats with hypothyroidism caused by a thyroidectomy or induced by medication. The researchers found that the rats with low or no thyroid function had a reduced ability to absorb vitamin B-12. For adults, the recommended dietary allowance of vitamin B-12 is 2.4 mcg per day.
Vitamin D and Calcium
Hypocalcemia, or a loss of calcium, occurs in 1 to 2 percent of all patients following a total thyroidectomy. Research published in “Surgery” in 2002 examined the link between calcium and vitamin D supplements and the risk of hypocalcemia following thyroid removal. The researchers studied 79 patients following a total thyroidectomy and found that supplementing with calcium and vitamin D prevented symptomatic hypocalcemia. The participants received 3 g of oral calcium and 1 mg of vitamin D per day.
Vitamin C might help the body absorb synthetic thyroid hormones after a thyroidectomy. A study presented at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in 2008 specifically looked at the common thyroid hormone, levothyroxine. Eleven patients who were taking high levels of levothyroxine and still not reaching their target thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels were studied. The patients took 1 g of vitamin C diluted in water with levothyroxine for six weeks. All patients had lower TSH levels, with the average reduction approximately 69 percent.
Vitamin A also might be necessary for individuals without a full thyroid. People with hypothyroidism have a reduced ability to convert beta-carotene into vitamin A. A vitamin A deficiency could limit the body’s ability to produce thyroid stimulating hormones (TSH) after a partial thyroidectomy. A study published in “Acta Medica Austriaca” found that people with an underactive thyroid, or no thyroid, had significantly higher levels of beta-carotene and lower levels of vitamin A.
- “The Journal of Nutrition”; Effect of Hypothyroidism on Methylmalonate Excretion and Hepatic Vitamin B-12 Levels in Rats; E.L. Stokstad, et al.; December 1988
- “Acta Medica Austriaca”; Beta-Carotene, Vitamin A and Carrier Proteins in Thyroid Diseases; Aktuna D, et al.; 1993
- "Surgery"; Is Routine Supplementation Therapy (Calcium and Vitamin D) Useful After Total Thyroidectomy?; Rocco Bellantone, et al.; April 2002
- Cleveland Clinic; Hypocalcemia; Mario Skugor
- The Endocrine Society: Research Summaries