Post-thyroidectomy, many patients are told to take calcium supplements. Calcium is essential for bone health and also helps the body absorb other nutrients like iron. If you’re not sure why your doctor prescribed calcium after thyroidectomy, read on!
Hormonal changes affect calcium absorption
When thyroid surgery is done, it can change your thyroid hormone levels and affect calcium absorption. The thyroid gland has a significant role in how the body takes up and regulates calcium; if we don’t have enough thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism), our bodies take less calcium from food and supplements to use elsewhere, like bones or other tissues.
Calcium deficiency can cause bone loss (osteoporosis) which makes you more susceptible to fractures and tooth decay.
There’s also some evidence that hyperthyroidism increases the risk of kidney stones due to increased urinary excretion of calcium-containing substances such as oxalate crystals found in foods like spinach and chocolate!
If your surgeon suggests taking a daily dose of 1000-1200 mg of supplemental calcium after thyroidectomy, it’s probably a good idea to take them. Talk with your doctor about what dosage is best for you and if any medications might negatively affect the supplements!
In addition to taking calcium supplements post-thyroidectomy, patients should also be advised on dietary changes, so they don’t become deficient in this vital mineral. There aren’t many foods rich in natural sources of calcium; most contain oxalate or phytates, which inhibit absorption by binding to the minerals during digestion (and especially when taken together).
Natural sources of calcium
Leafy greens like spinach have high amounts of these substances while very few other vegetables do – think broccoli, bokoya and kale, along with beans & lentils, are some other examples!
Milk, yoghurt and cheese are the most common dietary sources of calcium. But suppose you’re concerned that thyroid surgery has decreased thyroid hormone levels to cause hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. In that case, these dairy products can be challenging to digest and absorb appropriately due to lactose intolerance which is very prevalent among patients with thyroid diseases. If this sounds like you, there’s still hope because lactic acid bacteria (LAB) have been shown in studies to convert milk sugars into readily absorbable forms of calcium & protein by fermentation- similar processes used for making buttermilk or kefir from regular milk!
Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum are examples of lacto-bacteria used in yoghurt and buttermilk production.
LABs have also been shown to fight inflammation and thyroid disease by converting milk sugars into lactic acids that reduce thyroid hormone levels! There’s even evidence that the calcium found in dairy products is better absorbed when fermented instead of eaten raw or cooked, especially if you’re taking thyroid hormones that interfere with nutrient absorption!
If you want more information on thyroidectomy recovery after surgery, check out our blog post “Thyroid Surgery Recovery – What To Expect On The Other Side“. If your doctor prescribes any medication for thyroid diseases like hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, you can also see our thyroid disease section for more information.