Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS, is a hormonal and metabolic condition that affects many women across the nation. It can lead to a variety of unwanted symptoms, including irregular cycles, excess body hair, weight gain, and even infertility.
Proper treatment of PCOS involves a holistic approach that takes the whole body into account. As a nutritionist, I help my clients with PCOS get to the root cause of their symptoms and figure out the best treatment protocol that is right for them.
Supplements can be a helpful option to balance hormones and address deficiencies. However, never take supplements blindly. They can do more harm than good if you’re not careful!
The best approach is to work with your healthcare team to determine which options are best for your health!
When it comes to supplements, there can be a lot of options. In today’s article, I will discuss how supplements may improve your PCOS symptoms and which options may help your situation to reduce those unwanted symptoms.
Treatment for PCOS should be a holistic approach including diet and lifestyle changes. If you haven’t already, check out my article on Dietary Recommendations For PCOS: Advice From a Dietitian-Nutritionist.
How Can a Supplement Help PCOS?
Have you been making lifestyle and diet changes but still aren’t getting the relief you want from your PCOS symptoms? Supplements may be just what you need!
Before going any further, it’s important to note that supplements can interfere with other treatments and medications. It’s important to work with a qualified professional before taking any new supplements.
However, supplements do have the power to promote ovulation and regulate hormonal imbalances. The ones I will discuss today work to manage metabolism, insulin resistance, and hormone balance.
To get the most benefits from your supplements, make sure to read labels and appropriately follow the directions. More doesn’t necessarily mean better!
Keep reading to gain insight into which science-backed supplement might work for you!
Inositol: (Myo-Inositol (MI) & D-Chiro-Inositol (DCI)
Inositol is a naturally occurring sugar that supports blood sugar and ovarian health in women. Its main impacts are improving insulin sensitivity, restoring ovulation, and improving pregnancy rates.
Inositol supplements should contain both Myo-inositol (MI) and D-chiro-inositol (DCI). Inositol has 9 stereoisomers, meaning 9 different three-dimensional structures. In the human body and PCOS, MI, and DCI are the most important stereoisomers.
This supplement works by decreasing insulin resistance and testosterone levels. Therefore, it reduces unwanted side effects like acne, hair growth, irregular menstruation, and infertility!
For the most positive impact on PCOS, you should look for an inositol supplement with a 40:1 ratio of MI to DCI. This ratio is important because the MI and DCI need to be present at particular amounts to work properly.
Never take DCI alone because it can increase testosterone and have negative side effects. A supplement with a 40:1 ratio of MI to DCI of 2,000 mg can be taken twice daily.
Vitamin D deficiency may play a role in the development of PCOS. Low levels may also enhance symptoms of PCOS (which you obviously do not want!)
Especially if you live in a cold climate, you may want to consider this supplement. Vitamin D can be received through sunlight exposure and it’s only found in limited foods like oily fish and fortified dairy.
Because of this, a supplement is usually the way to go if you have a vitamin D deficiency or live in a state that doesn’t get much sunshine.
A vitamin D supplement can support PCOS by improving hormones, inflammation, oxidative stress, insulin resistance, and fat metabolism.
The daily recommendation for Vitamin D is around 600 IU. However, this number can vary based on the severity of your deficiency. It is best to consult with your doctor or dietitian for the correct dosage amount!
Fish oil is a supplement rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Your body needs these fatty acids for functions ranging from cell growth to muscle activity.
With PCOS, fish oil can improve insulin resistance, which can be a primary driver of your symptoms. It is beneficial for insulin resistance due to the inflammatory properties of healthy fats.
By improving insulin resistance, fish oil can improve ovulation and fertility! But the benefits don’t stop there. Fish oil is also important for brain and eye development, along with disease prevention.
Resveratrol is in a group of compounds called polyphenols. They are antioxidants that protect the body from damage.
Resveratrol is found in over 72 plant species, including grapes. Have you ever heard about red wine having health benefits? This is where the idea comes from! However, we don’t recommend drinking a bunch of wine to resolve your PCOS symptoms (if only, right?).
Resveratrol is actually one of the most recommended supplements to take for PCOS. Not only does it have antioxidant properties, but it is cancer-protective, anti-inflammatory, heart-protective, and brain protective. WOW! That’s a lot.
For PCOS specifically, it can reduce testosterone and insulin. It also improves egg quality and production.
Resveratrol is safe up to 5 g per day, but studies show the benefits of consuming 1,500 mg per day (1.5 g).
Are you looking to improve your lipids and insulin sensitivity, and regulate your weight?
α-lipoic acid is an antioxidant that can regulate body weight by reducing food intake and enhancing energy expenditure.
α-lipoic acid can improve your good cholesterol and insulin sensitivity through anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It improves menstrual cycles, decreases the amount of ovarian cysts, and increases progesterone.
Studies have shown positive effects after taking 100-400 mg per day. As always, consult with your healthcare team about proper dosage amounts.
Folate is a B vitamin naturally found in some foods and is important for forming healthy cells, especially in the blood.
Folic acid is a common supplement given to women seeking fertility. It can lead to better egg quality and improved chances of pregnancy. Another reason it’s used in women is because it can decrease the risk of birth defects in babies.
A unique benefit of folate is its cancer and heart disease-protective properties. PCOS can heighten oxidative stress which increases cardiovascular risk, making folic acid a great supplement choice for women with PCOS.
If you’re struggling with infertility and have a family history of heart disease or cancer, this may be a good option for you.
Women planning to become pregnant should get 400-1,000 mcg per day. I recommend making sure this supplement is the methylated form as many people commonly have the MTHFR gene variant that cannot convert the synthetic folic acid form efficiently.
Carnitine is a nutrient that plays a crucial role in producing energy from fat. It’s found in many animal foods and is made in the human brain, liver, and kidneys.
In regards to PCOS, carnitine has been shown to do 3 things:
- Improve insulin sensitivity
- Help turn fat into energy
- Help with weight loss by improving insulin sensitivity
Low levels are linked with PCOS symptoms, so it may be a good idea to get your levels tested and supplement accordingly.
Lastly, zinc is an essential trace element that has many roles within the body. It plays a critical part in insulin formation, storage, and function.
Studies have shown it to balance blood sugar, optimize hormone production, and decrease PCOS symptoms. Further, zinc is a primary mineral involved with hair and skin health, and it has been shown to help with hair loss associated with PCOS.
Using around 50 mg per day has been shown to have beneficial effects.
There are many different options for supplements when it comes to PCOS. Hopefully breaking everything down helped you understand what may work for you!
Always remember that PCOS management should focus on diet and lifestyle first. However, the right supplement regimen can be that addition to make a world of a difference in your health!
To access these supplements in my professional grade supplement dispensary, click here. Remember to work with your healthcare team before taking any new supplements.
As a functional integrative nutritionist, I help women support fertility, improve hormonal health, and achieve sustainable weight management. Learn more about my current private coaching offers and services at this link.
Interested in a group coaching setting? My 4Ever Method Group Coaching Program may be right for you! Find out if it’s a good fit by signing up here.
Looking for more fun and educational nutrition content? Make sure to follow along with my Instagram where I share weekly tips and tricks for hormonal health, fertility, and weight loss. So happy to have you here!