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Thyroid. 2001 Oct;11(10):967-71.

The acute effect of calcium carbonate on the intestinal absorption of levothyroxine.

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Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, California 90073, USA.


To determine the acute effect of calcium, we measured levothyroxine absorption after ingestion of thyroxine (T4) with and without simultaneous ingestion of calcium (as calcium carbonate) in seven volunteers without thyroid disease. Serum total T4, total triiodothyronine (T3), free T4, and thyrotropin (TSH) levels were measured after ingestion of 1,000 microg of levothyroxine on two separate visits at 4-week intervals: (1) levothyroxine alone and (2) levothyroxine together with 2.0 g of calcium as calcium carbonate. The amount of absorbed levothyroxine was calculated as the incremental rise in serum T4 level during the first 6 hours multiplied by the volume of distribution for the hormone. When 1,000 microg of levothyroxine alone was given to subjects, the maximum average total T4 absorption was 837 microg (83.7% of the dose ingested) at 120 minutes. When levothyroxine was coadministered with 2.0 g of calcium (as calcium carbonate), the maximum average T4 absorption decreased to 579 microg (57.9% of the dose ingested) at 240 minutes. The total levothyroxine absorption over 6 hours was significantly greater with thyroxine than that with thyroxine and calcium (p = 0.02). The administration of calcium and levothyroxine in these subjects was associated with a significant reduction in the peak increment in serum total T4 (p = 0.02) and free T4 levels (p = 0.03), as well as a significant reduction in the overall increment in serum total T4 (p = 0.003), free T4 (p = 0.002), and total T3 levels (p = 0.01) over four time points (120 minutes, 240 minutes, 360 minutes, 1,440 minutes). In summary, this pharmacokinetic study in seven volunteers indicates that calcium carbonate acutely reduces T4 absorption.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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