Vitamin D and Autoimmune Thyroid Disease-Cause, Consequence, or a Vicious Cycle?

Nutrients. 2020 Sep 11;12(9):2791. doi: 10.3390/nu12092791.


Vitamin D is a steroid hormone traditionally connected to phosphocalcium metabolism. The discovery of pleiotropic expression of its receptor and of the enzymes involved in its metabolism has led to the exploration of the other roles of this vitamin. The influence of vitamin D on autoimmune disease-namely, on autoimmune thyroid disease-has been widely studied. Most of the existing data support a relationship between vitamin D deficiency and a greater tendency for development and/or higher titers of antibodies linked to Hashimoto's thyroiditis, Graves' disease, and/or postpartum thyroiditis. However, there have also been some reports contradicting such relationships, thus making it difficult to establish a unanimous conclusion. Even if the existence of an association between vitamin D and autoimmune thyroid disease is assumed, it is still unclear whether it reflects a pathological mechanism, a causal relationship, or a consequence of the autoimmune process. The relationship between vitamin D's polymorphisms and this group of diseases has also been the subject of study, often with divergent results. This text presents a review of the recent literature on the relationship between vitamin D and autoimmune thyroid disease, providing an analysis of the likely involved mechanisms. Our thesis is that, due to its immunoregulatory role, vitamin D plays a minor role in conjunction with myriad other factors. In some cases, a vicious cycle is generated, thus contributing to the deficiency and aggravating the autoimmune process.

Keywords: Graves’ disease; Hashimoto thyroiditis; autoimmune thyroid disease; vitamin D; vitamin D receptor.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Graves Disease / blood*
  • Graves Disease / complications*
  • Humans
  • Thyroiditis, Autoimmune / blood*
  • Thyroiditis, Autoimmune / complications*
  • Vitamin D / blood*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / blood*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications*
  • Vitamins / blood


  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin D