There is a lot of research that supports the use of vitamin D for PCOS. I’m going to dive into the research and explain the benefits of vitamin D for PCOS and what you need to know to start reaping the benefits of this powerful supplement.
What is Vitamin D?
According to the National Institute of Health, vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin. Although you might hear it referred to as the sunshine vitamin since you can also get vitamin D through exposure to sunlight. It isn’t found in many foods but is often added to foods like milk, cereals, and orange juice.
Benefits of Vitamin D
Vitamin D offers numerous benefits including:
Supports the immune system
Promotes calcium absorption
Aids in bone growth
Lowers the risk of tooth decay and gum disease
Aids weight loss
May reduce the risk of certain types of cancer
Helps treat hypertension
May prevent type 2 diabetes
Vitamin D and PCOS
Why is vitamin D so important for PCOS? Research shows that approximately 85% of women with PCOS are vitamin D deficient. Low vitamin D levels could aggravate the symptoms of PCOS particularly insulin resistance, hyperandrogenism, irregular menstrual cycles, disruptions in ovulation, infertility, obesity and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Vitamin D can help improve some symptoms of PCOS like fertility, hyperandrogenism, insulin resistance, and mood. Let’s take a look at each.
Vitamin D and Fertility
PCOS is the leading cause of female infertility. Due to a lack of ovulation, or irregular ovulation, women with PCOS can have difficulty conceiving. But there is growing evidence that vitamin D can aid in improving fertility. Vitamin D receptors have been identified throughout the cells of the human body including the placenta, ovaries, and uterine lining. It has also been found that vitamin D plays a role in egg maturation and development. Women with higher vitamin D levels have higher odds of conception.
Studies have also found that vitamin D also helps those that are undergoing fertility assistance and those women with higher vitamin D levels were more likely to become pregnant. Some doctors have found that 800 IUs of vitamin D daily will increase fertility and reduce the risk of miscarriage. Vitamin D definitely has its benefits for women with PCOS who want to get pregnant. Make sure you are taking a prenatal that has vitamin D in it.
Vitamin D and Hyperandrogenism
Hyperandrogenism is when females have too high levels of androgens like testosterone. This can lead to acne, excess hair growth, hair loss and thinning. Some of the most aggravating symptoms for women with PCOS. A systematic review and meta-analysis of six trials of 183 PCOS women revealed that vitamin D supplementation significantly reduces total testosterone. Reducing testosterone levels in PCOS helps with a lot of the symptoms.
Vitamin D and Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance is very prominent in PCOS. Approximately 70% of women with PCOS are insulin resistant. And insulin resistance can be seen in overweight and lean women with PCOS. When insulin resistance is addressed, a lot of PCOS symptoms will improve. Let’s take a look at how Vitamin D can improve insulin resistance.
Here is what the research shows: Low 25(OH)D levels are found to be associated with insulin resistance in women with PCOS. Studies have shown that calcium plus vitamin D supplementation for eight weeks among vitamin D deficient women with PCOS had beneficial effects on serum insulin levels, serum triglycerides and cholesterol levels. Another study of vitamin D supplementation in women with PCOS showed improved insulin sensitivity.
Vitamin D and Mood
Women with PCOS are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. While there isn’t a ton of research on PCOS and vitamin D for mood, there is some evidence that vitamin D deficiency is independently associated with depression and inflammation.
Signs You Are Vitamin D Deficient
Unfortunately, most of the population is vitamin D deficient and could use a little boost. Here are some signs that you are lacking in vitamin D:
A weak immune system
Bone and lower back pain
If you want to know for sure that you are vitamin D deficient you can have your doctor run a simple blood test looking at the serum concentrations of 25-Hydroxyvitamin D or 25(OH)D. Anything under 30 nmol/L is considered vitamin D deficient.
Optimal Levels of Vitamin D for PCOS
It is critical to make sure that you are taking the right amount of vitamin D. This study showed that women who took 4,000 IU a day had better results in total testosterone, sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), and inflammation values than women taking 1,000 IU a day of vitamin D. Doctors consider a good range of vitamin D to be a value of 30 ng/mL. An optimal value would be 50 ng/mL. Women with PCOS should definitely try to get their vitamin D levels to be 50 ng/mL since it can help greatly with PCOS symptoms.
Sources of Vitamin D
If you are lacking in vitamin D there are some sources including exposure to direct sunlight, foods, and supplements that can help to increase your levels. First, try getting some good old sunshine. Try getting about 20-30 mins of sunlight every day. This can be harder depending on where you live and the time of the year. During the winter months when it is hard to get adequate sunlight, it is important to make sure you are supplementing with vitamin D. Also, the use of sunscreen can also affect the amount of vitamin D that is absorbed.
You can also get vitamin D from some foods like fatty fish and vitamin D fortified foods like milk, cereals, and orange juice. Lastly, you can get vitamin D from supplements.
How to Take Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin which means it should be taken with food. Preferably with some type of fat like cheese, nuts, nut butter, avocado, etc. which will help your body to absorb the vitamin D efficiently. Just note that it will take several months of supplementation to improve your levels.
Bottom Line: Should you take Vitamin D for PCOS?
Yes, vitamin D supplementation shows to improve symptoms for women with PCOS. Vitamin D is an affordable and easy supplement to implement daily.
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