HYPOTHRYOIDISM: A reader asked if there is any medication out there suitable for vegans?

Medication recommendations should be discussed with your health care provider since individual situations vary. By Reed Mangels, PhD, RD



There are a number of different causes of hypothyroidism. Depending on your specific condition, certain medications may or may not be appropriate. We cannot recommend specific medications. We have not evaluated ingredients that are used in medication so cannot say with confidence whether or not a product is vegan.

A starting place, if you are trying to make decisions about medications, is to discuss options with your physician. Once you have a list of medications, websites like PDR – Prescribers’ Digital Reference can help you identify ingredients. You can also search online for specific medication names and the company that makes them. You can contact the company for more information. Your pharmacist may also be able to help with this research.

As an example of how you could approach this, suppose your provider told you that medications to treat hypothyroidism include Levoxyl and Synthroid. Products containing thyroid hormone from pigs are occasionally used but these have largely been replaced by synthetic hormones such as those in Levoxyl and Synthroid.

According to the company’s website, “The active ingredient in LEVOXYL (levothyroxine sodium) is a synthetic hormone that is identical to the thyroxine hormone naturally made by the thyroid gland.”

According to the PDR, Synthroid’s ingredients include lactose monohydrate (http://www.pdr.net/full-prescribing-information/Synthroid-levothyroxine-sodium-26). According to the company’s website, Levoxyl does not have lactose as an ingredient (http://labeling.pfizer.com/ShowLabeling.aspx?id=688). This is an obvious difference but we can’t say for certain whether or not either of these products contains animal ingredients. We also don’t know whether or not animal testing was used in their development.

The recent book, Even Vegans Die, offers some advice about medications. “It is also not practical to refuse medications that you need when no alternative exists. There are times when the only choice is a non-vegan choice. We work toward a world where there are alternatives to all products that involve animal use. But that world does not yet exist.”

Please discuss your specific needs and concerns with your physician.

The contents of this posting, our website and our other publications, including Vegetarian Journal, are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient information from company statements. It is impossible to be 100% sure about a statement, info can change, people have different views, and mistakes can be made. Please use your best judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.

Source: The VRG Blog Editor


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