Over-the-counter protein supplement resulting in impaired thyroxine absorption in a hypothyroid patient

P. A.D.M. Kumarathunga, N. S. Kalupahana, C. N. Antonypillai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Whey protein is a popular dietary supplement that is claimed to provide multiple health benefits. It has been shown to delay gastric emptying and impair ileal nutrient absorption. Additionally, some of the other additives like papain enzyme, soy lecithin in these protein supplements could interfere with L-thyroxine absorption. There is no evidence in the literature for the effects of protein supplements on L-thyroxine absorption. Herein, we describe a case of a 34-year-old lady who was on endocrinology follow up for primary hypothyroidism with stable thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels within the normal range while on L-thyroxine with a dose of 125 µg daily for the last 3 years, presenting with mild hypothyroid symptoms and elevated TSH level following a recent introduction of a protein supplement by her physical care adviser. Her treatment adherence and ingestion technique were good throughout, she was not on other medications or herbal remedies, there were no other changes in her food pattern or features suggestive of malabsorption, she was not pregnant, was taking the same L-thyroxine brand and TSH test was done from the routine lab. Since the only factor which could have contributed to the deranged TSH levels was the recent introduction of the whey protein supplement, we advised her to stop the protein supplement while continuing the same dose of L-thyroxine. Her TSH level was repeated in 6 weeks and was found to be normal (1.7 mIU/L). Our case report demonstrates that over-the-counter protein supplements could interfere with L-thyroxine absorption. Therefore, patients on L-thyroxine should be cautious when taking them.

Original languageEnglish
Article number21-0070
JournalEndocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism Case Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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