, Volume 56, Issue 1, pp 138–145 | Cite as

Undertreated hypothyroidism due to calcium or iron supplementation corrected by oral liquid levothyroxine

  • Salvatore Benvenga
  • Flavia Di Bari
  • Roberto VitaEmail author
Original Article



The aim of this study was to assess whether oral liquid levothyroxine would correct tablet levothyroxine malabsorption induced by calcium or iron, two sequestrants of levothyroxine.


Nineteen adult hypothyroid patients with tablet levothyroxine malabsorption caused by calcium and/or iron supplements were switched from tablet to liquid levothyroxine at the same dose. Primary outcomes were: (1) significantly lower mean serum thyroid-stimulating hormone with the liquid compared with the tablet formulation, and (2) significantly greater rate of serum thyroid-stimulating hormone less than or equal to 4.12 or 2.5 mU/L.The mean follow-up was 25.2 ± 16.5 weeks.


TSH was lower with liquid levothyroxine compared with tablet levothyroxine (7.48 ± 5.8 vs. 1.95 ± 1.3 mU/L, P < 0.001), both in the calcium group (8.74 ± 7.2 vs. 2.15 ± 1.4, P < 0.001) and iron group (8.74 ± 7.2 vs. 1.68 ± 0.9, P < 0.001). Thyroid-stimulating hormone levels ≤4.12 mU/L in all patients, calcium group and iron group were more frequent post-switch (95, 87 and 100%) compared to pre-switch (26, 22 and 29%, P < 0.001), and so were thyroid-stimulating hormone levels ≤2.50 mU/L (66, 59 and 76% compared to 5, 9 and 0%, P < 0.001). The pattern held comparing the first liquid levothyroxine thyroid-stimulating hormone levels and the first tablet levothyroxine thyroid-stimulating hormone levels or the corresponding rates of thyroid-stimulating hormone levels below the target.


Liquid levothyroxine is resistant to the sequestration by calcium or iron. The high rate of thyroid-stimulating hormone normalization already at the first check (6–8 weeks) should avoid frequent adjustments in levothyroxine doses and assays of thyroid-stimulating hormone, with consequent financial savings.


Hypothyroidism Undertreated hypothyroidism Levothyroxine replacement therapy Malabsorption of levothyroxine 



This was an independent study, and, thus, we did not receive any funds to perform it.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

S.B. was an invited speaker at symposia organized by IBSA. The other authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Clinical and Experimental MedicineUniversity of MessinaViale Gazzi,Italy
  2. 2.Master Program on Childhood, Adolescent and Women’s Endocrine HealthUniversity of MessinaViale Gazzi,Italy
  3. 3.Interdepartmental Program of Molecular & Clinical Endocrinology, and Women’s Endocrine HealthUniversity Hospital, Policlinico Universitario G. MartinoViale Gazzi,Italy

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