Dealing with PCOS symptoms can be a cumbersome task. Dietary supplements accompanied by healthy food, a proactive lifestyle, stress management, adequate sleep and lots of support can make it much easier to manage your symptoms and have regular menstrual cycles. In this article, we'll explore the top supplements that can help you manage this condition.
Women with PCOS suffer from a variety of symptoms such as acne, hair fall, hirsutism, weight gain, infertility, anxiety, depression–the list goes on. While there is no cure for PCOS, it can be managed to a great extent with the help of dietary supplements, healthy food, a proactive lifestyle, stress management, adequate sleep and lots of support (We've got your back!).
Taking the correct supplements can play a significant role in improving your PCOS symptoms. You can expect to have lesser mood swings, better metabolism, higher levels of energy and so much more. Not to forget: regular menstrual cycles (we missed you, aunt flo).
Keeping that in mind, we've compiled a list of the top 7 supplements for PCOS that have been backed by scientific research.
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Inositol is a carbohydrate that has a significant contribution in influencing the functioning of insulin. It is used for the treatment of several disorders including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, PCOS, and others. This substance is found in natural food sources such as grains, grass-fed meat, organic fruits, nuts, beans, etc.
A study suggests that inositol may be beneficial in treating patients with depression, particularly those who also suffer from the premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
In another study conducted in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus, it was found that inositol supplementation reduced blood glucose and HbA1c levels. This means that inositol may be useful for pre-diabetic or diabetic PCOS patients.
According to another study, Myo-inositol has the potential to improve insulin resistance while D-chiro-inositol addresses hyperandrogenism, menstrual irregularities, infertility, and promotes ovulation.
D-chiro-inositol can also lower blood pressure levels as well as
plasma triglyceride concentrations.
A randomized controlled trial compared the efficiency of different ratios including the 40:1 ratio and found that the best ratio for restoring ovulation and improving other symptoms of PCOS is the 40:1 MI/DCI ratio.
Addresses hyperandrogenism, menstrual irregularities, infertility.
Increases insulin sensitivity.
Beneficial for reducing HbA1C and blood glucose levels.
Lowers blood pressure and plasma triglyceride concentrations.
Our Recommendation: Unived PCOS Management (Inositol 40:1) (Also includes vitamin D3, folate, calcium, magnesium and chromium)
Chromium Picolinate is used as a supplement to help control blood sugar levels, and high cholesterol. It is a supplemental version of Chromium which is a trace mineral that helps insulin work efficiently.
A study has shown that the supplementation of chromium picolinate can be used in women with PCOS for the reduction of body mass index, fasting insulin, and free testosterone.
In another study, a group of patients was given chromium picolinate while another group received metformin. It was found that chromium picolinate helped reduce fasting blood sugar and insulin levels. It also showed that it has a better tolerance as compared to metformin, although the treatment with metformin was beneficial in decreasing hyperandrogenism.
In a controlled trial conducted on two groups of women, it was found that this substance is beneficial in decreasing insulin resistance and promoting ovulation in PCOS patients.
Reduces fasting blood sugar and insulin levels.
Better tolerance compared to metformin.
Decreases insulin resistance.
Reduces BMI and free testosterone.
Our Recommendation: Unived PCOS Management (Inositol 40:1) (Includes 25mcg of chromium picolinate)
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is found in food sources such as fatty fish, egg yolks, red meat, liver, etc. Human skin also has the ability to make vitamin D on its own when it is exposed to sunlight.
The new working culture and pandemic have limited us to working indoors due to which a majority of working individuals don't get enough sun and are deficient in vitamin D.
People who live in countries that are farther away from the equator don't get enough sun either. The lack of UVB rays results in a lesser production of vitamin D, leading to a vitamin D deficiency.
According to a study, a vitamin D deficiency runs in about 67% to 85% of PCOS patients. This means that if you have PCOS, there is a high chance that you also have a vitamin D deficiency.
Several observational studies also suggest that there may be a link between vitamin D levels and metabolic disturbances in PCOS but there haven't been any solid conclusions so far.
Vitamin D possesses enormous benefits for women with PCOS. When supplemented in high doses for a minimum of 12 weeks, it can help improve insulin sensitivity, glucose levels, hyperlipidemia, and hormonal functionality.
Furthermore, Vitamin D can improve egg quality and sperm quality and lead to better fertility outcomes.
As per an article published in Osteoporosis International, a daily dose of vitamin D is much better than a weekly dose while monthly administration is considered to be least effective.
In order to reach optimal vitamin D levels of 40 ng/ml, it is recommended to take 5000 IU daily. It is best to ask your healthcare provider to run lab tests to find out your vitamin D levels. This way, you can optimize the dosage of your supplements to meet your current requirements.
Improves insulin sensitivity.
Improves glucose levels.
Helps in hormonal functionality.
Beneficial in hyperlipidemia.
Our Recommendation: Unived B12+D3
(*Include vitamin B12, vitamin C and zinc on the basis of your current health profile and deficiencies)
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Magnesium is a vital mineral that is found in nuts, green leafy vegetables, beans, legumes, seeds, etc. It has key role and is required for over three hundred enzyme systems in the human body. It helps in healthy bone formation, glucose control, insulin metabolism, and even promotes heart health.
A research that assessed the eating habits of PCOS patients suggested that 1 out of 4 women did not have a sufficient amount of magnesium in their diets.
Additionally, observational studies indicate that there's a link between insulin resistance and magnesium.
Magnesium is required for appropriate glucose utilization and insulin signaling.
Taking magnesium supplements can, therefore, improve insulin resistance and decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Magnesium supplementation can also be beneficial in relieving symptoms of anxiety.
Improves insulin resistance.
Reduces risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Relieves symptoms of anxiety.
Our Recommendation: Unived Marine Magnesium
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Berberine is a chemical that can be found in multiple plant species such as Oregon grape, tree turmeric, barberry, and goldenseal varieties.
Berberine can be beneficial for PCOS patients in helping them in weight loss and improving insulin resistance.
In a study that was published in the European Journal of Endocrinology, it was found that berberine had similar properties to metformin and could lower insulin and glucose levels. This is why it can be a great alternative to metformin.
Researchers also found that berberine can reduce total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL levels and help improve good cholesterol levels.
In one of our previous articles, we've already talked about how NAFLD and PCOS have insulin resistance as a common factor and how this makes women with PCOS more prone to developing NAFLD.
Berberine is an amazing supplement that can help you improve overall liver functioning and prevent the build-up of fat in the liver.
Lowers total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL levels.
Lowers insulin and glucose levels.
Improves insulin resistance.
Assists in weight loss.
Helps prevent NAFLD.
NAC is a supplemental form of the amino acid L-cysteine.
A systematic review published in Obstetrics and Gynecology International has shown that NAC can promote ovulation and pregnancy rates. This suggests that NAC can help boost fertility in PCOS patients.
NAC has the ability to lower androgen levels and treat menstrual irregularities.
In a study conducted to compare the effects of metformin vs NAC, it was found that NAC lowered total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein levels.
In fact, metformin and NAC had similar effects and were equally efficient in decreasing the BMI, fasting insulin levels, hirsutism score, free testosterone, menstrual irregularity, and HOMA IR index.
This means that NAC can be an excellent substitute for metformin, especially for women who do not want to deal with the side effects of the latter.
Decreases BMI, fasting insulin levels, hirsutism score, free testosterone, menstrual irregularity, and HOMA IR index.
Lowers total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein levels
Increases ovulation and pregnancy rates.
Vitex, which is also commonly known as chaste berry, is typically taken to alleviate PMS symptoms, breast pain, and menopause.
Now, here's the thing: Vitex can be marvelous for some women and wreak havoc for others.
It is efficient in lowering prolactin, promoting ovulation, and relieving symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.
It raises levels of luteinizing hormone and since some women with PCOS already have high LH levels, it can worsen their symptoms.
Chasteberry or vitex shouldn't be taken alongside fertility medication or taken immediately after stopping birth control pills. Furthermore, if taken to regulate cycles, it is advisable to take it for a short period of time as it may become less effective if taken for a long term.
This is why vitex should be strictly taken under the supervision of a doctor because it can possibly worsen the symptoms of PCOS for some women.
Helps lower prolactin.
Raises LH levels**
Helps with breast pain.
Helps with symptoms of PMS.
(**Some women with PCOS already have high LH levels and should be cautious while taking this supplement)
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Things To Keep In Mind:
When it comes to PCOS, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. PCOS is a very individual condition and it affects different people in different ways.
There's no pill that can get rid of ALL your symptoms which is why you need to take supplements based on your individual needs. The more you learn about your specific symptoms, the better you'll be able to cater to your unique requirements.
Before planning to include any supplement in your diet, make sure that you consult your gynecologist or healthcare practitioner. Always follow their instructions for dosage and let them know if you face any side effects.
It must be noted that supplements cannot replace food. They are meant to 'supplement' a healthy diet. What this means is that, while supplements can help you make up for nutrient deficiencies, they cannot replace healthy foods.
Try to get most of your daily dose of nutrients from natural sources. It's best to consume fresh and organic fruits and vegetables to ensure that you get the nutrients you need to thrive. Also, buy local produce and try to eliminate or reduce the use of plastic altogether.
If you wish to connect with our in-house PCOS expert, please reach out to us at email@example.com or connect with our customer care number +91-7217828733
Written by Samia Arshan.
Samia is a Delhi-based content writer who is passionate about women's health, wellness, and nutrition. Her motive is to empower women and help them fight their battle with PCOS.