Hypothyroidism? Adrenal Fatigue? Leaky Gut? Or Scurvy?
Parents often have a predictable set of complaints when they enter the childbearing phase. Conception, pregnancy, birth, and the extended post-partum period of lactation and responsive night time parenting leave them with a variety of symptoms that overlap under multiple conditions. The trends in the natural community to explain these symptoms include the ever popular hypothyroidism angle which is certainly a reasonable suspicion for most people in modern society. Adrenal fatigue and leaky gut all belong, too. But, what if a terribly simple but destructive reason tied all of them together?
What if the root issue was actually scurvy?
Oh, most modern people think scurvy is simply a page in history, a reminder of pirates losing teeth and dying while sailing the ocean. Yet, scurvy, especially the lighter, subclinical version, remains a stubborn issue even in developed countries. And it could be the team player behind the ambiguous but frustrating conditions parents find difficult to diagnose and treat.
Here’s the thing. Set aside the picture of pirates losing teeth and dying of large, open wounds. What if modern scurvy is more about chronic, suboptimal levels and not complete deficiency? What if your body got just enough today, but missed out the last few days? What would that look like as a list of symptoms? And how would you explain away the symptoms instead of seeing the bigger connection?
• Recessed gums, sensitive teeth, decay at the gum line: estrogen imbalance, aging
• Fatigue, weakness, lethargy: depression, lack of sleep
• Hair loss, thinning: post partum hormones, stress, aging
• Sensitive skin, breakouts, eczema: hormones, stress, poor diet, toxins
• Slow wound healing, bruises, painful limbs: anemia, blood loss from birth
• Foggy brain, joint pain, restless leg syndrome, gastritis/leaky gut: Hashimoto’s or hypothyroidism
• Nausea, loss of appetite, loss of thirst, heart palpitations, anxiety: adrenal fatigue
• Fertility complaints, cycle issues, glucose imbalance or sensitivity: fibroids, estrogen dominance, etc
All of the symptoms you complain about can be listed under these conditions. And these conditions can truly be a valid issue.
But, it’s worth noting that all of the symptoms listed above are varying stages of scurvy.
Even worse, when you research these overlapping conditions such as hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue, estrogen dominance, etc., you find that every single one of them is also connected to vitamin C deficiency. So even if scurvy is not the root cause, it’s still almost guaranteed to be present if any of these other conditions are present, too. For example, vitamin C and glucose enter the cells in our bodies through the same channels. So if your body is currently having trouble regulating glucose levels, which is common when hypothyroid, vitamin C can’t compete at the entrance of your cells and your body ends up deficient.
Our bodies do not make vitamin C. And our bodies do not store vitamin C beyond the concept of daily quotas. We must take in enough every single day. During important bodily functions such as pregnancy, birth, and lactation, that daily quota increases. Wharton’s jelly in the umbilical cord, for example, is primarily made of collagens, and thus requires adequate vitamin C to form correctly. Exclusively breastfeeding infants receive all of their vitamin C intake through human milk, so the maternal body will actually regulate the amount transferred through the milk to secure the child’s needs.
In addition to the logical increase in demand, several environmental factors also increase the need for vitamin C. Stress, sickness, exposure to pollution, alcohol, gut damage such as from ulcers or medications, and any other wounds such as physical damage during birth and surgery will all dramatically increase the need for vitamin C or deplete it rapidly.
So even if you are taking the suggested RDA amount of vitamin C daily, it might not be enough during high metabolic needs, or it might not be absorbed efficiently enough through the GI tract. Maybe you get enough most days. Maybe you absorb some but not all. And this is how you can easily develop a case of modern scurvy. You aren’t a pirate with gangrene and missing teeth. But, you’re starting to feel like one at this point.
If you suspect any of your symptoms could be related to a metabolic syndrome, thyroid and adrenal conditions, or other endocrine and metabolic issues, seek out professional help. Yes, it really is still important to do this even as a natural parent to get a clear picture of the situation. Research the full thyroid and adrenal lab tests available so you arrive prepared to request an adequate amount of tests because TSH alone is useless. Or, if possible in your case, consider ordering the tests directly from a lab. Endocrine and metabolic conditions can fester for years and almost always require a protocol with several steps to successfully manage or heal. The longer you wait, the more damage your body endures, so make a commitment to self-care by scheduling as soon as possible.
Once you have a context of the potential status of your body, now you can look at vitamin C. A deficiency in this area is most likely at play here, so making sure balanced vitamin C intake is part of your protocol is vital to recovery. Since vitamin C is common and simple, it is easily one of the most overlooked nutrients I’ve ever found in all of the times I’ve helped parents struggling with what I’ve dubbed, “Mom-disease.” I have witnessed people spend thousands of dollars, take rare and unusual remedies, and adopt stringent lifestyle changes in an attempt to resolve their symptoms. When what was missing for many of them was simply a vitamin C adjustment and related cofactors. It’s a tragedy.
The complementary trait of vitamin C is already confirmed in the medical literature. Scientists have already studied vitamin C to see if it enhances the absorption of thyroid drugs. It does. They’ve already studied vitamin C to check if it heals the thyroid after heavy metal/lead exposure. It does. They’ve also studied vitamin C and its connection to gastritis, ulcers, IBS, and other maladies that generally end up grouped as leaky gut. What they found is that people with GI complaints were more likely to be deficient in vitamin C and had an increased need for vitamin C due to the injuries in their guts. These same injuries also decreased the efficiency of absorption, especially if caused by bacterial infections that intentionally tried to disarm vitamin C to defend themselves.
All of this is to emphasize that careful research and attention to vitamin C is necessary for any parent who identifies with the symptoms listed above. Although you might feel like buying a massive vitamin C supplement right now or rabidly licking limes, it’s important to research all of the details of this nutrient. One detail to remember is that the kidneys filter leftover vitamin C. The body can only absorb so much at one time. And that absorption might be inefficient for you depending on your environmental factors. So taking a ton of it means you could pee your money out. More concerning, however, is that doing this consistently could stress out your kidneys. So focus on familiarizing yourself with the RDA, general bioavailability, and your individual factors that could increase your needs. Talk to your doctor if you have any signs of kidney damage or kidney disease, too.
The good news is it’s a cheap, fairly straight forward, water-soluble nutrient found in many fruits and vegetables. You don’t even have to buy a supplement and could simply focus on mindfully including more raw fruits and veggies in your diet. Nuts and seeds can also be a strong source of vitamin C but you must make sure they haven’t been over heated or stored for long periods of time because vitamin C is sensitive to heat and degrades over time. Finally, most fermented foods contain high amounts of vitamin C. If you’re one who craves bubbly, carbonated drinks or tart foods, that might be a sign from your body that you need more of this undervalued and overlooked nutrient. It’s not just a cold and flu fighter, it’s a quiet player in the background of many childbearing related issues. Take a few minutes to check it out today and you might just find yourself on a sturdy pathway to healing!