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Low Thyroid Function links to High Cholesterol!

Low Thyroid Function (or hypothyroidism as it is known), links to high cholesterol levels. Hypothyroidism is a common metabolic disorder in the general population. Surveys show a 4.6% prevalence of hypothyroidism (low thyroid function) in the general population (USA). 9.5% of the Colorado Prevalence Study participants had high levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). A naturopath looks at the optimal range being between 1-2 (TSH). Thyroid failure is more common in women with the prevalence rising with age.  Hypothyroid patients have increased levels of triglycerides and low-density lipoproteins (LDL). Hypothyroidism is seen as a common cause of secondary dyslipidaemia (high cholesterol levels). 

Low Thyroid Function & Cholesterol
Low Thyroid Function & High Cholesterol Links

Research shows that hypothyroidism (low thyroid function) can put you at a greater risk for high blood cholesterol, which can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Keeping your thyroid in balance helps to keep your cholesterol in check.

How Low Thyroid function impacts Cholesterol Increase

Decreased thyroid function is accompanied by reduced activity of the enzyme involved in making cholesterol, triglycerides (TG) and low density lipoprotein (LDL) levels which are increased in patients with hypothyroidism (due to lowered activity). Decreased LDL-receptor activity results in decreased clearance of LDL. This decrease in LPL activity is found in hypothyroidism, decreasing the clearance of triglyceride rich lipoproteins.

Low thyroid Function Cofactors
Low Thyroid Function Fixes

Why T3 is important?

Just remember thyroid hormones enhance the release of the enzyme involved in the first step of cholesterol synthesis and regulate cholesterol clearance. Too little thyroid hormones mean there is not enough cholesterol clearance and a build up of bad cholesterol (LDL) occurs. It is particularly important for T3, being the active thyroid hormone, as it upregulates and controls the LDL receptor gene activation. Low thyroid hormone may cause greater intestinal cholesterol absorption. The net effect is hyperlipidaemia (increased or high cholesterol levels).

High & Low Cholesterol
High Cholesterol impacts Thyroid Function

A team of scientists at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, Netherlands, examined data of 9,420 patients enrolled in the in the Rotterdam Study for nearly 9 years, looking at their levels of TSH, free thyroxine (fT4) and risk of heart disease or cerebrovascular disease.  What they discovered is that as fT4 increases, the risk of developing heart disease is doubled, and there is an 87% greater risk of suffering from an atherosclerosis-related event such as heart attack or stroke.

Abnormal Levels of Cholesterol

The higher abnormal cholesterol levels of both LDL and HDL have been linked with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease as cholesterol builds up on the arterial wall. Elevated levels of plasma cholesterol, particularly low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and triglyceride levels, are mainly responsible for hypercholesterolemia, which can also lead to other diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and cancer.

Low Thyroid Function Tests
Low Thyroid Function Tests

Basella alba, known as remayung, belongs to the family of Basellaceae and is a wild vegetable that was used for human health in ancient times. The leaves and stems of B. alba are used as an analgesic, antifungal, and antiulcer activities. This herb has been studied for its cholesterol lowering properties along with Bergamot. Further studies are still required.

Yes, this is all very complex, so what does it actually mean?

Your Thyroid Function

Maintaining proper thyroid function is crucial particularly in women as they age. Post-menopausal are particularly at high cardiovascular risk. This has been well documented however it is known your thyroid could definitely be playing a part.

Herbs that lower Cholesterol
Herbs to Lower Cholesterol

How do you improve Low Thyroid Function links Lower Cholesterol levels?

  • Maximise thyroid function through minimizing impacts from chemicals in the environment (chlorine and fluoride in particular) and reducing heavy metal exposure. You may need to be tested.
  • Support your body and make sure you have the thyroid function co-factors – Selenium, Iodine (checked first) and B-Vitamins) for optimal daily thyroid function.
  • If stressed, your thyroid will be affected. They come together! Fix your stress through gentle exercise and ensure good sleep.
  • Check your hormone levels. It’s important to know what is occurring not stabbing in the dark.
  • Fix your gut function. Optimal gut function is needed for proper absorption of all nutrients.
  • If you want to check if you have the APOE gene risk factor. Ensure your MTHFR is optimal through a whole body approach.
  • There are several phytochemicals (from plants) that have been studied over the years with promising effects.

See a qualified Naturopath Karen Green for your specific needs. Contact Karen on 0400836254 or, twitter @greeninghealth, Facebook: Read more on thyroid health here


Baskaran, G., Salvamani, S., Ahmad, S.A., Shaharuddin, N.A., Pattiram, P.D. & Shukor, M.Y. (2015), HMG-CoA reductase inhibitory activity and phytocomponent investigation of Basella alba leaf extract as a treatment for hypercholesterolemia, Vol.9, Pages 509—517, DOI

Lutz, J., Bano, A., & Pearce, E. (2019). Hypothyroid and Cholesterol: Too Little Thyroid Hormone, Too Much Cholesterol, Endocrineweb,

Rizos, C., Elisaf, M., and Liberopoulos, E. (2011). Effects of Thyroid Dysfunction on Lipid Profile, The Open Cardiovascular Medicine Journal, Vol.5, p. 76-84,

Vitamin K for Health

Vitamin K for Health

Vitamin K is an important fat-soluble vitamin for health. It consists of two main subfamilies: vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) and vitamin K2 (menaquinone).  Naturally occurring forms of phylloquinone (K1) are found in green plants and vitamin K2 is synthesized from bacteria with the intestine. Vitamin K1 has an important function in blood clotting and vitamin K2 moves calcium from soft tissue into bone.

Vitamin K is:

  • Essential calcium metabolism and maintenance of bone health
  • Assists normal healthy blood coagulation
  • Reduces bone mineral density loss in health post-menopausal women

Calcium, vitamin D & A, and estrogen are necessary to maintain bone health and even people with adequate calcium, sunlight and vitamins A & D can struggle to maintain bone health particularly in the latter years when estrogen is also lost. Vitamin D increases the need for vitamin K2 as well as increasing its benefits. Mega-dosing of vitamin D is not recommended as this can increase the risk of calcium deposits in soft tissues, another reason for more is not better! Quality of calcium and the correct nutrients is however important.

Vitamin K content in Foods

Evidence has emerged of the crucial role of vitamin K2 in maintaining health tissues. Vitamin K2 has been shown to assist calcium from blood vessels into bones and in doing so protects against cardiovascular disease whilst depositing calcium in bone and teeth. Vitamin K2 deficiency can occur within 7 days of a vitamin K2 deficient diet. Those that are considered at greater risk are those with:

  • Impaired gastrointestinal absorption
  • Chronically treated with antibiotics (minimising the ability of favourable gut bacteria to produce K2)
  • Newborns with immature gastrointestinal systems
  • Diets low in vitamin K
  • Fat malabsorption disorders
  • Intestinal bypass surgery
  • Liver disease and pancreatitis

Vitamin K2 and Bone Health

Vitamin K2 activates certain proteins (i.e. osteocalcin) which then allows them to bind to calcium. Vitamin D is dependent on vitamin K2, and together with vitamin A stimulate the production of osteocalcin (bone forming protein) and inhibits the production of osteoclast cells which break down bone tissue. Estrogen assists vitamin D to form bone and when estrogen levels drop in menopause this activity potentially increases bone loss. It is important to supplement with K2 along with vitamin D in menopause, in the prevention of osteoporosis, although it is equally important to check vitamin D levels (vitamin D 1,25-OH2-D3) before supplementing. Although unclear osteocalcin appears to be involved in bone remodelling or calcium mobilization. Even though vitamin A assists the production of osteocalcin, more is not better. Vitamin A and E excess has been shown to antagonise vitamin K uptake (i.e. prevent absorption and metabolism). It is always about a balance with nutrients!

Health Benefits of Vitamin K

As vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin it is best absorbed with dietary fat. People who have difficulty absorbing fat generally have difficulty absorbing fat-soluble vitamins.

Menaquinones are classified according to their side chains. The longer the side chain the longer it potentially resides in the body (i.e. MK-7), which determines the uptake within the intestine and its distribution throughout the body.

The menaquinones produced by bacteria are predominantly found in animal products such as meat, egg yolk, butter, cheeses and legumes. The most well-known MK-4 is a short chain structure predominantly found in eggs, meat and liver whilst MK-7 is found in higher concentrations within fermented cheeses and in the traditional Japanese food natto (produced by Bacillus subtilis from fermented soy beans.

Cardiovascular Disease and vitamin K2

As calcium is one of the causes of hardening of the arteries, a high arterial calcium score can be measured as a potential risk of heart disease. Studies have shown that adding vitamin K2 to the diet can reduce the arterial content and increase flexibility of the arterial wall.

Interestingly in the northern hemisphere calcification is highest in the Winter months and lowest in August (Summer), due to the animal sources of vitamin K. Grass fed however not grain fed animals have higher K2 in the fat of the animal.  Chickens must be fed inopen pasture to have K2 present int he yolk, conventional grain feed reduces vitamin K2 content. Processed (hydrogenated) margarine and other oils that contain cheaper versions of fats have synthetic forms of vitamin K (DHP) which studies have found contain lower amounts of K2.

Vitamin K in Food

Content of Vitamin K in selected Foods

Phylloquinone content ug/100g of food

<10 10-50 >100 >200
Milk Asparagus Cabbage Broccoli
Butter Celery Lettuce Kale
Eggs Green beans Brussel sprouts Swiss chard
Cheese Avocado Mustard greens Turnip
Red Meat Kiwi fruit   Watercress
Fish Peas   Collards
Corn Peanut butter   Spinach
Cauliflower Lentils   Salad greens
Grains Kidney beans    
Fruits (most) Soybeans    
Tea (brewed) Coffee (brewed)    

Cautions and Warnings

Pregnancy and lactation – all forms of vitamin K supplementation needs to be used with caution and under supervision only.

Using vitamin K in conjunction with anticoagulant medication ie. warfarin is not recommended and needs to be under supervision only.

See Karen Green your professional naturopath, nutritionist and herbalist for further support and guidance at and information here: Karen Green or information calcium read here


Gropper, S., Smith, J., and Groff, J. (2009). Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism, 5th ed. . CA, USA. : Cengage Learning.

K2 for Bone Health. (2016). Australia:

Copper Deficiency: Effects on Heart Disease

Copper Deficiency: Effects on Heart Disease

Copper is crucial for health, and its deficiency effects on heart disease are alarming. This story reminds the body needs balance! Interesting and crucial information adapted from David Watts, Ph.D., Director of Research Interclinical Laboratories).

Recently a popular news story warned that high, long term consumption of sweetened beverages such as soft drinks and soda may increase health risks. A study published in the journal Circulation (1) found that sugar sweetened beverages as well as artificially sweetened beverages were associated with mortality rates. The study consisted of over 37,000 men and over 80,000 women who were followed for over 20 years. Their conclusion found that consumption of the sugar sweetened beverage was associated primarily with cardiovascular mortality.
Heart Disease in Men and Women
Typically heart attacks occur more in men than women depending upon age. The average age for men having heart attacks is about 66 years compared to women whose average age is 70. Heart attacks can happen at any age and in either sex, but the rate is similar or equal in both men and women after 60 years of age. In fact, heart disease is the number one cause of death in both sexes. The study published in ‘Circulation’ also found that women fifty years and older, who consumed diet drinks had a 29% increased risk for heart attack and 23% increased risk for stroke.
High Fructose and Heart Disease
It seems that high fructose intake is the underlying factor in contributing to many of these statistics. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2) reported that the consumption of beverages containing 10, 17.5 or 25% of fructose produced a linear dose response increase in factors contributing to cardiovascular mortality. Risk factors include, lipid and lipoprotein abnormalities, uric acid, triglycerides, cholesterol, and apolipoprotein.
The American Heart Association (AHA) published their recommendations for the reduction in the intake of added sugars found in soft drinks and processed foods.
They state in the journal Circulation that “High intakes of dietary sugars in the setting of a worldwide pandemic of obesity and cardiovascular disease has heightened concerns about the adverse effects of excessive consumption of sugars.” The mean intake for all persons was found to be over 22 teaspoons per day. However, it appears that in the age group between 14 to 18 years, consumption is about 34 teaspoons per day. High fructose corn syrup used in most sweetened beverages is playing a role in the epidemics of insulin resistance, obesity, dyslipidaemia and type 2 diabetes (3).

The Fructose Copper Connection

What is the connection between fructose and heart disease? The answer may lie in the fact that fructose is known to antagonize the mineral copper. It has been well documented that adding fructose to the diets of animals induces copper deficiency (4). Although the same has not been sufficiently studied in humans, the response of humans to a high fructose intake may be similar to response to copper deficiency caused by high intake of fructose in animals.

 Copper and Heart Health
Copper is a constituent of many important enzymes. It is involved in oxidoreductase activity, electron transport, free radical scavenging, neurotransmission as well as immunity. When it comes to heart disease copper deficiency greatly affects the functioning of the heart.  Detrimental health effects of copper deficiency include: high cholesterol, poor glucose tolerance, abnormal ECG activity, increased LDL, lowered HDL (happy lipids), and high triglycerides, increased susceptibility of lipoproteins and tissues to oxidative damage. Increased blood pressure, plasminogen activator inhibitor type I, early and advanced glycation end products, atherosclerosis, fatty liver degeneration, cardiac hypertrophy and cardiomyopathy, optic neuropathy, iron overload and connective tissue damage (5). High dietary fructose intake is associated with non-alcoholic fatty liver degeneration (NAFLD) in animal models and is thought to be due to poor copper status. Patients with NAFLD have been found to have low copper availability. Liver and serum copper levels are found inversely correlated with the severity of NAFLD (6).
Lee et al., (2018) reported their findings of low hair copper and its relationship to the risk of developing NAFLD. Individuals with lower hair copper concentrations were found to have higher blood pressure and increased body mass index and waist circumference and lower HDL. Those who had NAFLD were found to have significantly lower hair copper levels (7).
Factors Contributing to Copper Deficiency
Copper should be adequate and in proper balance with other nutritional minerals for normal copper related functions. However, an antagonistic relationship exists between copper and other nutrients that can lead to an imbalance or copper deficiency. Copper deficiency can also be caused by genetic predisposition and malabsorption conditions. Bariatric surgery can also be a major cause of acquired copper deficiency contributing to haematological and neurological symptoms (8).
Copper Deficiency and Cardiac Disease
A study by Kedzierska, et al, (2005), found that plasma copper concentration can significantly affect activity of the erythrocyte sodium transport system, and copper supplementation may have therapeutic benefits for hypertensive patients (9). In hair mineral testing analysis copper deficiency in patients with hypertension and metabolic syndrome can be found. Most patients with hypertension in fact show an elevated tissue of sodium and potassium concentration along with a low tissue calcium and magnesium. The benefits of copper supplementation results in an increase of copper activated free radical scavenging enzymes such as superoxide dismutase (S.O.D.) and increased availability of nitrogen oxide, along with calcium retention affects as well. An increase in tissue calcium would aid in the reduction of sodium retention and thereby reduce elevated blood pressure.
Heart Disease and Gender
The development of heart disease is known to differ between men and women.  However, copper imbalance may be a key factor in both. The fact that men tend to have a greater incidence of heart attacks at an earlier age than women may rest in metabolic types. Men tend to naturally be more sympathetic dominant with lower tissue copper concentrations while women tend to be more parasympathetic dominant with higher tissue copper. However, after menopause women develop heart attacks at a similar rate as men. This is due to the reduction in estrogen which often corresponds to a reduction in copper retention. Often mineral patterns of women before and after menopause show a shift in their mineral patterns from parasympathetic toward sympathetic dominance along with a lowering of copper and elevation of their zinc to copper ratio.
Hair Zinc and Copper Levels and Predisposition to Heart Disease
Zinc and copper concentrations were measured in the hair and urine of patients who were hospitalized for myocardial infarction (MI). Mineral concentrations were also determined in the patient’s descendants and compared to a control group who had no family history of MI. Zinc was found to be higher and copper lower in the descendants of patients with MI suggesting a consistent rise in zinc and lowering of copper reserves in genetically predisposed individuals. The study suggests that in MI patients, a genetic disorder of mineral imbalance at a younger age can be used in predicting susceptibility to heart disease in individuals prior to onset and diagnosis in asymptomatic patients (10).

It should also be noted that excess tissue copper can result in decreased zinc activated S.O.D. activity and thereby, may contribute to hypertension and elevated cholesterol and triglycerides as well. This biphasic effect emphasizes the need to assess individual needs and treat the patient accordingly, instead of merely treating symptoms. HTMA can be used as a screening tool for the assessment of copper status and more importantly, copper’s relationship to other nutrients. If you would like to obtain your hair mineral analysis to check your levels contain Gaining Health Naturally today on 0400836254 or


HTMA Newsletter – May-June 2019 Heart Disease, Soft Drinks and Copper

1. Malik, VS, et al. 2019

2. Stanhope, KL, et al, 101, 2015

3. Johnson, RK, et al. Dietary Sugars Intake and Cardiovascular Health. A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. Circ. June 2010

4. Klevay, LM. Adding Fructose to diets of animals can induce copper deficiency. J. Biomed and Pharmacol. 2018

5. DiNicolantonio, JJ, et al. Copper deficiency may be a leading cause of ischemic heart disease. Open Heart, B.M.J, 2018

6. Song, M, et al. Copper Fructose Interactions: A Novel Mechanism in the Pathogenesis of NALFD. Nutrents, 10,11, 2018

7. Lee, S, et al. Low hair copper concentration is related to a high risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in adults. J.Trace Elem. Med Biol 50, 2018

8. Yarandi, SS, et al. Optic neuropathy, myelopathy, anemia and neutropenia caused by acquired copper deficiency after gastric bypass surgery. J. Clin. Gastroent. 48, 2014

9. Kedzierska, K, et al. Copper Modifies the Activity of Sodium Transporting Systems in Erythrocyte Membrane in Patients with Essential Hypertension. Biol. Trace Elem.Res. 107, 2005

10. Taneja, SK, et al. Detection of Potentially Myocardial Infarction Susceptible Individuals in Indian Population: A Mathematical Model Based on Copper and Zinc Status. Biol. Trace Elem. Res. 75, 2000

Menopause – A time of reflection and renewal

Menopause – A time of reflection and renewal

Menopause is often a time of reflection and renewal is what I hear myself saying to clients time and again. As I see more women having difficulties during this transitional time, isn’t it time we honour ourselves more? Menopause is the cessation of menses for 12 months or more and is a time of much change for women.  It occurs when there has been a change in a woman’s reproductive hormones and the ovaries no longer release any eggs. Menopause can occur naturally and at the expected age, prematurely or early.

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Gaining Health Naturally Naturopathy Brisbane, Sunshine Coast Qld

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