Graves Disease and Tinnitus Cured: Vitamin D Corrects Hyper-Thyroid and Resulting Ringing in Ears

I was two years into my efforts to control Graves’ Disease (hyper-thyroid) via reductions in caffeine and alcohol,* and seemed to be having some success, when I read in (of all places) Parade Magazine** that a lack of vitamin D causes all sorts of health problems, including Graves’ Disease.

Now that made a lot of sense!

That explains why the hyper-thyroid was worse in late winter and better in late summer. (I was diagnosed in February and much better by July.)

That explains why Graves’ Disease spontaneously remits in 30% of cases, as the diagnosing physician told me. (He didn’t say why and I assume he doesn’t know.)

I’d had almost no vitamin D since 2000.

I had been avoiding the sun religiously since February 2001 when I had a basal-cell-carcinoma removed from my face—so my body was not getting a chance to generate the vitamin from the sun.

I was getting Vitamin D only from the salmon I’d eat once or twice a month.

I thought I was getting vitamin D from yogurt and cheese but was shocked to learn that vitamin D is added only to milk, which I was not drinking regularly. (A quick review of nutrition labels confirms this travesty of the FDA.)

I ran right out and bought vitamin pills.

I began taking one multi-vitamin (100 IUs D), one D3 cholecalcifero (400 IUs D), and one cod liver oil gel-tab (135 IUs D) every time I remembered, which might be once a day for three or four days and then not at all for a week or two.

I started drinking milk and allowing myself some sun.

On any given day, I might have 1,000 IUs D and then I may have none for a week. (When I haven’t been in the sun and I forget to take the pills, I get twitchy and my heart beats too fast.)

The article in Parade recommends 2,000 IUs a day in supplements and says that our ancestors, running around in the sun, were getting 10,000 IUs a day.

My supplement of 1000 IUs clearly is not enough.

So now it’s April 2007 and I’m a year into my vitamin D therapy: How am I doing?

Well, that is until a few weeks ago when winter finally caught up with me.

Living in a coastal town in Northern California,
a person doesn’t get much sun, even in the summer.

I supplemented my summer with four trips to sunnier latitudes, where the sun is more potent: Hawaii in October, San Diego in November, Baja in December, and San Diego again in February. All that wore off by the end of March.

Cod liver oil rules.

Also, about a month ago, I ran out of the cod liver oil gel-tabs and I didn’t buy any more. Thus I conclude that the 135 IUs I was getting from cod liver oil are more effective than the 900 IUs I get from the D3 cholecalcifero.

My new prescription: Cod liver oil and more trips to the sun!

*In addition, I stopped eating mercury-laden fish. I had been eating a lot more than the FDA’s approved limit and, although I could find no reference to that as a cause of Graves’ Disease, I figured eliminating sources of mercury was worth a try.

**March 19, 2006 page 11. I didn’t keep the name of the article or, unfortunately, the author.

21 smashing comments for this post.

  1. Thanks Said:

    This is the article in Parade you reference:

    http://www.parade.com/livelonger/pages/Nutrigenomics_piece

  2. John Scoone Said:

    I’ve had a form of tinnitis for about 18 months now, and it’s been getting progressively worse. Last week, I heard a radio program that was extolling the virtues of Vitamin D, and how most people don’t get enough. I used to work outside, and now I’m inside most of the time. I went out and bought a bottle of D3, and after a couple of days, the ringing in the ears is diminished. I also have more energy in general. I’m convinced that I have had Vitamin D deficiency for going on 3 years now (since I changed jobs). I see you also recommend cod liver oil. I’ve also been drinking a little fish oil, and I’ll try the cod liver oil pills as another supplement.

  3. Rosalie Ross Said:

    Dear John,

    I happy to hear that you’re feeling better.

    I’ve been feeling better, too–it’s summer and there is more vitamin D available from the sun, but I’m finding the amount of time I’m willing to be in the sun is not enough and I keep forgetting to take my vitamin pills, so I relapse.

    I’ve taken to having sardines for lunch on occasion. I dress them with a tablespoon of cod liver oil, some chopped onions and nasturtium flowers, and I eat them on crackers. The cod liver oil seems tasteless taken this way, and you get a lot more than from the gelcaps. Bon appetit!

  4. Penny56 Said:

    Seven weeks ago I was diagnosed with Graves’s disease with associated Vit D deficiency. My specialist started me on medicaiton to block the formation of free T3 and T4. My thyroid function is slowly improving. But the eyes are sometimes worse and I am also very tired. I wonder if anyone is experiencing similar after effect of treatment?

  5. Rosalie Ross Said:

    Dear Penny,

    Sorry to hear of your troubles. It seems to me you have a lot of company, both with your eyes continuing to bother you and with the medicine making you feel tired.

    My right eye is the one affected. It bothers me when I’m stressed and it actually bulges out more, usually in the afternoon after I’ve been running around doing errands. It also seems worse if I’m angry and I feel like no one understands my point of view.

    My eye has actually receded a little since I started the Vitamin D. It certainly doesn’t bother me as much. My doctor said that in one-third of cases, the eyes get completely well on their own.

    You are not the first person who has told me that medicine prescribed by a doctor for hyperthyroid caused them to feel sluggish. I would definitely complain to my doctor about it.

    I manage without medicine, but my path isn’t smooth. Right now I’m realizing that I’m probably low on Vitamin D again. It’s December already, so I haven’t been getting any useful sun lately, and alas, I haven’t been taking my vitamins.

    My first symptom is subtle–it becomes really easy for me to get into a heart-racing panic. On second thought, I guess it’s not so subtle! To calm myself, I organize my worries and explain to myself how things will work out.

    When it gets worse, my heart rate stays high no matter what I’m thinking. I feel like I’m in a perpetual panic and it’s no fun.

    Good luck getting your metabolism back to normal.

    Yours,
    Rosalie

  6. Sean O'Donnell Said:

    UPDATE:
    The cause of tinnitus has been found to be immunological in origin by biomedical researchers at University of Melbourne. Supplementation of vitamin D3 has been shown to merely suppress the immune system,thus on providing palliation in the short term,while the dysregulation of the immune system increases over time. Therefore it is no longer advisable to supplement vitamin D for those with chronic illness including thyroid disorder and Grave’s disease.New treatment based on definitive modeling of the immune system and vitamin D can be viewed here http://www.vimeo.com/2599416

  7. Rosalie Ross Said:

    Thank you, Sean.

    I clicked on the site and started listening to the video–a lecture by Trevor Marshall about antibiotics and their effects on the immune system.

    I translate Sean’s comment and the bit in the lecture about vitamin D thusly: Your tinnitus may be caused by illness and is a symptom of that illness. Vitamin D as a supplement (D3 added to milk in the U.S. and in vitamin pills) suppresses your immune system and so suppresses the symptoms, tinnitus being one.

    The first thing to do is visit your doctor to figure out if your tinnitus is caused by an underlying illness.

    Vitamin D is actually a fat based hormone and is made in your body by a complicated process. Our scientists are not sure exactly how D3 fits into that process.

    I personally don’t trust D3 and prefer to get my vitamin D from the sun or, when the sun is not available, from cod liver oil, which, at least, is not artificial.

    Rosalie

  8. tinnitus causes Said:

    There are also two very important minerals that will help you rid yourself of the symptoms of Tinnitus. These minerals are Zinc and Magnesium; they will help protect you with the problems caused by Tinnitus.

  9. cochran Said:

    Really informative blog. Graves Disease and Tinnitus may be cured with Vitamin D and a good diet, but medication may also be required.

  10. Eloise Tietje Said:

    One of the most typical causes of tinnitus is damage of the nerves within the inner ear. The inner ear contains nerves that send sounds to your brain for interpretation. If the nerves get damaged, unusual impulses may be sent, triggering the mind to assume that there is sound. This explains the varieties of noise that may be heard as a result of tinnitus.

  11. David@remedies for tinnitus Said:

    I am in the sun all the time, I live in Colorado and am an outdoor enthusiast. I also take fish oil also. So why do I have Tinnitus? This is starting to drive me crazy.

  12. rosacea Said:

    Very interesting read. Vitamin D is one of the most under-appreciated vitamins. It may also be involved in the skin condition rosacea and, perhaps, other inflammatory skin conditions.

  13. Milton Hare Said:

    Vitamin D supplementation is clearly an important factor in Graves Disease and any other autoimmune disorder. You can safely take up to 10,000 iu of Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) daily, along with calcium, magnesium and zinc supplements (available as an inexpensive three-pill-a-day bone support supplement, Calcium 1000 mg, Magnesium 500 mg, Zinc, 10 to 15 mg). I personally feel the Marshall protocol referenced above is without merit. Graves and tinnitis can be greatly ameliorated, permanently, by fairly high doses of Vitamin D3. Kaiser HMO sets the normal range for Vitamin D3 in the blood at 30 to 100 ng/ml (or 75 to 250 nanomoles/liter, an alternate way of expressing this quantity). 50 ng/ml is a good, optimal dose, and it’s difficult to reach this level unless you are getting the equivalent of 5,000 iu D3 every day, from sun or supplements. Dark skin color is adaptive to higher sun levels at the equator. So if you have dark skin, you’ll take much longer to get your Vitamin D from the sun. It’s wise for everyone to take supplements unless you really really do get out in the sun with skin exposed. One excellent site is VitaminDCouncil.org. Other researchers who are worthy are Michael Holick and Reinhold Vieth. Please do take higher doses of Vitamin D. You can take 5,000 iu of D3 for three or four months and then get a 25(OH)D vitamin D test from your doctor to find out whether you are above 50 ng/ml.

  14. kitchen renovation broward Said:

    I enjoy seeing websites that understand the value of providing a prime resource for free. I truly loved reading your post.

  15. Colin Said:

    I have an allergy to fish, so cannot eat it, what other foods (apart from seafood) are good for Vitamin D? I also live in Scotland – so getting plenty sun is not going to happen!!. I have had Graves for approx 19 years, I have suffered from tinnitus, very mildly, on and off for a few years – I always put it down to listening to too much loud music. Over the last few months I have noticed it getting steadily worse. 5 months ago I had a severe septicemia brought on by an abdominal abscess, it seems that my tinnitus has gotten worse since being in hospital being pumped full of antibiotics. Does anyone know if this is connected? Any suggestions? I haven’t been back to my doctor yet but after reading this site, I’m going!

  16. McMurdo Said:

    Colin–Google “food sources of Vitamin D” to find a list of foods with Vit. D. For support for your worsening tinnitus, check out the online support group at dailystrength.org. You can have some of your questions answered there as well.

  17. Poesie Said:

    Thank you for every other informative blog. Where else
    may just I am getting that type of info written in such a perfect manner?
    I’ve a challenge that I’m simply now running on, and I have been on the look out for such info.

  18. Lisa reddrop Said:

    Hi,
    I have had Graves disease and tried everything. For anyone suffering from bulging eyes, you must get your TRAb levels down and try Bromelain tablets. I take 4 a day and it helps me so much with my eyes.

    Rosalie responds: TRAb levels refers to a thyroid test that your doctor can order. Bromelain tablets would be a pineapple extract enzyme (I don’t know anything about this).

  19. Nancy Said:

    Colin, antibiotics can cause or make worse your tinnitus. Mine suddenly flared in April, possibly from inflammation of the eustachion tubes triggered by allergies. Nothing, including strong steroids, have helped, and a recent dose of antibiotics has just made it worse. I am hoping that getting all these strong drugs out of my system will eventually relieve the problem. I take D3, fish oil, and magnesium, but they aren’t doing a thing yet to help this recent flare up.

  20. prenatal vitamin side effects Said:

    I stumbled on this blog. I have discovered it to be positively useful and it has helped me out loads. I am hoping to contribute and aid different customers like it’s aided me. Great job.

    Rosalie responds: Thank you.

  21. Nikolas Britton Said:

    Please note that it can take upwards of 5 months for oral vitamin D3 supplements to reach peak serum concentrations within the body. It’s ok if you only take it when you can remember, but it’s important that you take in more than 30,000 I.U. per month (i.e. 1,000 I.U. per day). I would recommend a minimum of 60,000 I.U. of vitamin D3 per month.

    Further realize that the vitamin D supplied in food is vitamin D1, and this form of vitamin D may have no effect on hyperthyroidism.

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Health Tip
People with tinnitus are found to have lower levels of zinc and B-12. Get yours in a B-Complex plus Zinc and Vitamin C
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Health Tip
Hyper-thyroid can cause tinnitus, even before a hormone imbalance is detected. Vitamin D helps your body regulate thyroid. Get it naturally from
Cod Liver Oil


Information in these pages is not a substitute for visiting your doctor
and is not intended as medical advice.


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