Let’s hear it for the sunshine vitamin!
The health-boosting benefits of vitamin D have long been discussed. An essential nutrient, it’s vital for maintaining the health of our bones, teeth, and muscles by regulating the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. When our skin is exposed to sunlight, it manufactures vitamin D, hence the sunny nickname.
Vitamin D may also play a key role in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) management, as studies show that it may improve levels of hormonal, oxidative stress, and inflammatory parameters in PCOS.
However, many women with PCOS (and many people in general!) are vitamin D deficient. Most of us aren’t basking in the rays 24/7 or getting enough of the nutrient from our diets. It’s estimated that one billion people worldwide have a vitamin D deficiency.
So, how can we combat this? And what should vitamin D deficient women do to manage their PCOS symptoms?
Here’s the lowdown.
Please note that this blog post is not a substitute for official medical advice and is for informational purposes only. If you are concerned about your PCOS symptoms, suspect you have an underlying health condition, or wish to start a new diet/lifestyle/supplement plan, please consult your doctor first. Neither the author(s) nor the publishers of this content take responsibility for any potential health consequences or side effects experienced by any person following this educational content.
Is Vitamin D good for PCOS?
In a word: yes.
Around 67% – 85% of people with PCOS have a vitamin D deficiency. Randomized controlled trials have found that vitamin D supplementation may aid PCOS symptom management.
Let’s take a look at the reasons why.
Vitamin D benefits for PCOS
It may improve fertility
Irregular periods are one of the most common symptoms experienced by PCOS Cysters, caused by hormone imbalances in the body. The main offenders are excess androgens – male sex hormones that are also produced in the ovaries.
Although some PCOS Cysters have regular periods every 28 days, others have irregular cycles, and some don’t have periods at all.
Getting the right amount of vitamin D may help mitigate these issues. According to a preliminary study, there’s a relationship between irregular menstrual cycles and low vitamin D levels. Supplementation is encouraged to compensate for this deficiency and potentially aid fertility problems.
It may help lower the risk of other diseases
Women with PCOS have a higher risk of metabolic syndrome. This is a group of conditions that can lead to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke and other health problems. Metabolic syndrome is diagnosed when someone has three or more of these risk factors:
- High blood sugar
- Low levels of HDL (“good” cholesterol)
- High levels of triglycerides in the blood
- Excess abdominal fat (i.e. a large waistline)
- High blood pressure
So, where does vitamin D come into this?
Low levels of vitamin D are found to be significantly correlated with insulin resistance in women with PCOS. This is when the cells in your muscles, fat, and liver don’t respond well to insulin and can’t easily absorb blood sugar. Impaired insulin sensitivity is linked to all of the above risk factors.
Vitamin D may lower the risk factors of metabolic syndrome.
- One study found that calcium and vitamin D supplements significantly reduced high blood pressure in women with PCOS.
- Another study found that vitamin D helped prevent insulin resistance.
- And this study found that insulin, triglycerides, and cholesterol levels improved for overweight women with PCOS who took vitamin D for eight weeks.
More data is needed to corroborate these findings, but the research is promising so far.
It may improve mood
Low levels of vitamin D may contribute to poorly regulated mood and behavior, as a deficiency can impair cognitive function and brain health. This can result in moodiness, low energy, and general feelings of sluggishness.
PCOS is associated with an increased risk of anxiety, depression, or stress. This can be caused by various factors related to PCOS, including:
- Hormone imbalances that affect mood.
- PCOS-associated weight gain, acne, and hirsutism (i.e. excess hair growth) may cause self-consciousness and insecurity.
- Dealing with uncomfortable symptoms and health complications may cause stress.
- Infertility may lead to a low mood or depression.
While vitamin D is unlikely to resolve depression on its own, it may help to regulate your mood and improve your overall health.
Vitamin D foods for PCOS
The sun provides as much as 90% of the body’s vitamin D. But this may not be enough to meet your overall vitamin D needs. People with darker skin and older people typically don’t get enough vitamin D through sunlight. Your geographical location might also be a factor if you live somewhere with long winters or a cooler climate.
You can boost your intake with your diet. Vitamin D is found in a few foods naturally and in pretty small amounts. The daily value (DV) for vitamin D is 800 IU (20 mcg). The best sources include:
Salmon and other fatty fish
A 3.5-ounce serving of salmon can give you 526 IU of vitamin D, or 66% of the DV, depending on the type.
The yolk from one large egg contains 37 IU of vitamin D or 5% of the DV.
Some wild mushrooms are great sources of vitamin D2 because of their exposure to UV light. Morels are a type of mushroom that grows in the wild. One cup of these mushrooms contains 136 IU of vitamin D, which is 17% of the DV.
Vitamin D supplements for PCOS
We can all try to eat more foods containing vitamin D and get more sunlight exposure (whilst wearing SPF, of course!). But if you have a vitamin D deficiency, your healthcare provider will likely recommend taking vitamin D supplements.
Our OvaFit MetaMutli multivitamin is specifically formulated for women with PCOS.
Check out the lowdown:
- It provides a full range of over 20 key nutrient essentials (including Vitamin D!) that promote your body’s ability to efficiently convert carbohydrates into energy and manage your metabolism.
- It’s formulated especially for PCOS women to support immune health, metabolism, bone health, and more.
- The majority of minerals in this formula come in a ‘chelated’ form for better absorption and bioavailability. This is important because not all multivitamins are chelated, rendering them almost ineffective.
- It’s independently tested and certified by NSF International to guarantee that the quantities of vitamins and minerals contained in each dose are consistent with the label.
- PCOS robs us of essential nutrients that are critical for metabolic health. This multivitamin is designed to fill the nutrient gaps exacerbating PCOS problems like hair loss, cystic acne, fatigue, and weight gain.
Order it here.
For more tips on PCOS diet dos and don’ts, check out our podcast, A Cyster and Mister, and our handy blog posts on PCOS and Chill.