A morning cup of coffee is an essential part of many people who love to start their day with a jolt of energy. But if you've been diagnosed with hypothyroidism and you're taking thyroid hormone replacement medication, your morning routine may need some adjustments. You see, drinking coffee while taking thyroid medication could have unintended side effects that could leave you feeling anything but awake.
So how should you drink your daily dose of joe if you're taking thyroid medications? How does coffee interact with thyroid medication anyway? Keep reading to find the answers!
Thyroid hormone replacement therapy is a type of medication that restore the hormones normally produced by the thyroid gland. It's used to treat those with hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid, which is a condition that occurs when your thyroid gland doesn't produce enough of its hormones, including thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) thyroid hormones.
With thyroid hormone replacement therapy, the levels of your thyroid hormone will be back on track. This can help support your thyroid health and alleviate hypothyroidism symptoms like weight gain, fatigue, hair loss, depression, and more.
There are numerous types of thyroid hormone replacement medication available, including:
Levothyroxine is the synthetic form of T4 (the inactive thyroid hormone). It's currently the most commonly prescribed medication for hypothyroidism. Some of the most common brand names include Levoxyl, Unithroid, and Synthroid.
Liothyronine is the synthetic form of T3 (the active thyroid hormone). If your symptoms don't improve with levothyroxine alone, your doctor may prescribe a combination of liothyronine and levothyroxine. Some brand names of liothyronine include Cytomel and Triostat.
Natural desiccated thyroid (NDT) contains natural forms of T4 and T3 derived from dried porcine thyroid glands. It's the preferred option for many hypothyroid patients as it offers better improvements in symptoms. Some brands of NDT are Armour Thyroid, NP Thyroid, and WP Thyroid, as well as VitaliThy, a natural desiccated thyroid you can buy online.
Taking thyroid hormone replacement medication is crucial to keep the levels of your thyroid hormone in check, but you need to make sure that you are taking it the right way.
The general recommendation is to take your thyroid medication on an empty stomach with no food or drink except water. The ideal time is in the morning, about an hour before breakfast. This will help ensure that our body absorbs all the medication properly throughout the day since.
And yes, taking thyroid medication on an empty stomach means you should avoid coffee.
Coffee contains caffeine, which is a stimulant that can accelerate intestinal motility – the muscle contractions that transport food through the digestive tract. In other words, it helps your intestines move food through your digestive system more quickly. Moreover, caffeine has a slight laxative effect, and it can raise the amount of fluid passing from your body to your intestines.
These things can cause your thyroid hormone medication to move through your intestines too quickly and not get absorbed properly. Some of the medication may even leave your body through the stool before it has a chance to be absorbed. This means that you won't get enough supply of thyroid hormones, so your thyroid hormone levels will be lower than normal. Thus, you'll continue to experience symptoms of hypothyroidism like fatigue, cold intolerance, weight gain, and muscle weakness.
Levothyroxine has been the subject of the majority of studies on coffee and thyroid hormone absorption. However, anecdotally, people taking NDT and liothyronine can also experience issues with absorption if they take the medication along with coffee. This suggests that you might want to refrain from consuming coffee together with any thyroid hormone replacement therapy.
Since it's the caffeine in coffee that can interact with your thyroid hormone medication, this also means that you should not consume foods and drinks that contain caffeine together with your thyroid hormone medication. Aside from coffee beans, here are some sources you may need to avoid:
Certain types of tea - while herbal teas are naturally free of caffeine, some teas, like oolong, black, green, and white teas, contain caffeine. You may want to stay away from green and black tea extract as well.
Coffee-flavored food products - these include any products with coffee flavorings, such as ice cream, candy, and frozen yogurt
Chocolate - chocolate products, from chocolate bars to hot cocoa, contain caffeine.
Protein bars and energy drinks
Some medications, such as drugs for PMS and migraines
If you're taking thyroid hormone replacement medication, you don't actually need to cut off a coffee from your life. It's all about timing.
The key is to simply wait at least an hour after taking your thyroid hormone replacement medication before drinking coffee or consuming other caffeinated products. This allows the medication to be fully absorbed into your system before the caffeine in the coffee can interfere with its absorption.
Habitual coffee drinking can be a tough habit to break, especially when you've always started your day with a cup of joe or indulged in sugary and processed breakfasts that may contain caffeine. But if you take your thyroid hormone replacement medication in the morning as soon as you wake up, it's a great idea to find alternative ways to start your day energized and refreshed.
Besides, those who drink caffeinated beverages and eat processed breakfast cereal, crave carbs and sugar later in the day. Sugar and carbohydrate cravings aren't good for you if you're trying to lose the weight you've gained due to hypothyroidism. Plus, it may also cause blood sugar fluctuations, which won't be helpful for your hypothyroid symptoms.
To get the coffee taste without caffeine, you might consider trying a roasted chicory root latte. It tastes just like a cup of coffee and may help keep you awake in the morning, but it doesn't contain any caffeine.
If drinking coffee or other caffeinated beverages in the morning is something you can't live without, you might want to consider taking your thyroid hormone replacement medication at night instead. Take it at least 3 to 4 hours after your last meal of the day, right before you go to bed, and enjoy a deep and restful sleep.
Besides interfering with the absorption of your thyroid hormone medication, coffee can actually affect your thyroid health. If you have hypothyroidism, you may find that coffee can really make you feel energized and help you deal with fatigue. This is because caffeine is a stimulant, so you may find that it can temporarily stimulate your metabolism to work faster. Thus, it may provide temporary relief from your hypothyroidism.
It's important, however, that you drink caffeine only in moderation. While it can help ease your hypothyroid symptoms, it cannot replace your thyroid hormone replacement medication. Plus, coffee in large amounts can put more stress on your thyroid, especially if you have Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
In addition, consuming too much caffeine may exhaust your adrenals. Coffee stimulates your adrenal glands to secrete more cortisol. And high levels of cortisol can eventually lead to hypothyroidism.
In addition to coffee and other caffeinated beverages, there are several other things you need to avoid while taking a thyroid hormone replacement pill. These include:
The absorption of thyroid medicine may be hindered by iron. It's best to take any necessary iron supplements at least two hours before or after taking thyroid hormone replacement medication.
The absorption of thyroid medicine can be affected by calcium as well. If you have to take calcium supplements, it's recommended to do so at least four hours before or after taking your thyroid hormone replacement medication.
Soy can also hinder the absorption of thyroid medications. It's a good idea to eat soy at least three hours before or after taking thyroid hormone replacement medication if you wish to include it in your diet.
Check out our guide on the best time to take thyroid medications.
Being diagnosed with hypothyroidism doesn't mean you have to say goodbye to caffeine forever. You can absolutely enjoy them, but you need to ensure that you don't mix your favorite cup of coffee or green tea with your thyroid hormone replacement medication. It's generally recommended to wait at least an hour after taking your medication since the caffeine in coffee beans can interfere with absorption. If you don't wait, the drug may work less effectively in controlling your thyroid hormone levels. Remember, taking care of yourself is key to managing hypothyroidism, and making sure you get the most out of your medications is essential.
Moreover, while caffeine may provide temporary relief from hypothyroidism symptoms, it shouldn't be used as a substitute for your thyroid hormone medication. Plus, consuming too much caffeine can actually cause imbalances in your body. It's important to manage your hypothyroidism with thyroid hormone replacement therapy, such as VitaliThy, an NDT supplement that contains Thyroid (USP) and is free from common allergens like gluten and lactose.
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