The thyroid-parathyroid glands share the same blood supply so it’s not uncommon to experience both thyroid and parathyroid health issues.
Although these glands have similar names they produce different hormones. Let me explain more…
The primary role of the parathyroid glands is to tightly regulate calcium levels within the body. Optimal calcium balance keeps your bones strong, and this nutrient is crucial for healthy muscle function, and nervous system activity.
Where Are The Parathyroid Glands Located?
You have four parathyroid glands which are normally only the size of a pea. For most people there are two parathyroid glands attached on either side of the back of the thyroid.
‘Para’ means near which explains the name given to these glands. The tiny parathyroid glands are closely situated to the thyroid.
If you thyroid has been removed it’s likely your parathyroid glands were also removed BUT you need to check.
The Vitamin D – Parathyroid Connection
The link between vitamin D and bone health was made when researchers discovered sunlight, or taking cod liver oil boosted vitamin D. This in turn helped prevent a soft bone disorder in children called ‘rickets’.
Today, vitamin D research shows this nutrient is vital to keep bones strong and healthy.
A drop in vitamin D is associated with higher production of parathyroid hormone. This has the potential to increase bone loss. It’s the reason maintenance of optimal D3 can help guard against excessive bone turnover.
How Do You Check Parathyroid Function?
It’s important to know the parathyroid hormone (PTH) blood test measures circulating levels of parathyroid hormone.
- Low parathyroid hormone levels –> reduced calcium uptake. It’s important to be aware the symptoms include tingling in the fingers and toes, muscle aches and spasms, fatigue, dry skin and brittle nails, headaches, anxiety, and depression.
- High parathyroid hormone levels –> calcium is dissolved from the bones which weakens the bones. This scenario puts you at greater risk of developing osteoporosis.
A check of parathyroid health is normally done along with testing calcium, and D3 levels within the blood. As these are fasting blood tests you should avoiding eating, or drinking fluids before testing.
Feeling concerned about parathyroid health? It’s vital to talk to your doctor about testing. To recap, there are 3 key tests you need to properly assess parathyroid function;
- Parathyroid hormone (PTH).
- Serum calcium.
- D3 (25-hydroxycholecalciferol).