If you have been recently diagnosed with PCOS, you may be overwhelmed with all the medications and supplements being pushed on you. You might even want to take a breather. We understand that. Getting a new diagnosis and adapting to a new normal can be overwhelming.
Even women who have been diagnosed for years but yet can’t find the right supplements; might feel the same amount of frustration.
The truth is, while there are different nutrition supplements out there, not all of them would benefit you. In addition, choosing the right PCOS supplement is not a one-size-fits-all phenomenon because our bodily needs are different.
Besides getting a supplement that is right for you, there are also safety concerns. How safe are the PCOS supplements you are taking? Are they wrecking more harm than good in your body?
These reasons and many others are why you shouldn’t embark on your PCOS journey alone. Just because a supplement is available Over-the-Counter does not translate to its effectiveness and safety. Always consult with a registered dietitian nutritionist who specializes in the management of PCOS before choosing a supplement.
This article will explore the best available nutrition supplements for PCOS and what to look out for when choosing a nutrition supplement for PCOS that is both safe and effective.
Do nutrition supplements work for PCOS?
When you think about PCOS, you probably think about your androgens going into overdrive. Well, you are not wrong. However, according to Rotterdam, there are at least two of three diagnosis criteria to be met first before you are diagnosed with PCOS.
In addition to high androgen, a woman with PCOS experiences chronic anovulation ( a condition in which a woman does not ovulate. Her periods may be irregular or absent). The third criteria to be met is having a polycystic ovary upon medical evaluation.
Once diagnosed, you will be managed based on your symptoms. For example, if infertility is the primary concern, then that would be the focus of the treatment. In addition, women who are battling with other PCOS symptoms like acne, facial hair, obesity, or glucose intolerance are managed accordingly.
Aside from being treated with medications like metformin, other treatment strategies that have been found useful for managing PCOS include exercise, diet, and nutrient supplementation therapy.
Studies have found that vitamins, minerals, and vitamin-like nutrients possess at least one functional property in the pathways that give rise to PCOS.
In fact, some nutrients play a regulatory role in the insulin signaling pathway and the synthesis of androgen. Remember that insulin resistance and androgen are the major culprits in the PCOS diagnosis.
For example, it has been found that a deficiency in inositol and vitamin D can complicate your PCOS symptoms. Inositol is believed to act as a second messenger in the insulin pathway and is deficient in women with PCOS. Giving inositol to women with PCOS has been found to decrease insulin resistance as it acts as an insulin sensitizer, just like metformin.
A low level of vitamin D has also been implicated in insulin resistance and may worsen your PCOS symptoms. Daily supplementation with vitamin D may help ease some PCOS problems like infertility and menstrual irregularities.
Several other nutrients like berberine, N-acetyl cysteine, and zinc have also been found to be useful in treating PCOS. But let’s come back to this later.
Before we dive into some of the best supplements for PCOS out there, let’s first consider the safety of supplements.
How safe are supplements for PCOS?
While supplements might be beneficial in managing PCOS symptoms, we also have to consider how safe it is.
And the scary truth is that we cannot guarantee the safety of many nutrition supplements. This is because supplements do not undergo such a process, unlike medications that undergo rigorous testing before approval by the Food and Drug Administration.
In fact, federal regulations give the responsibility to the manufacturers to ensure that their dietary supplements are safe and that the labels are not misleading.
This means manufacturers can make bogus claims on their labels, and not much will be done about it.
Aside from the fact some manufacturer’s falsely label supplements and make bogus claims, some nutrition supplements contain ingredients that are downright harmful to your organs. In fact, a study carried out in 2015 revealed that Dietary supplements result in an estimated 23,000 emergency room visits every year in the United States.
According to the FDA, it will be impossible to test all products marketed as dietary supplements that may have potentially harmful hidden ingredients.
In addition, some nutrition supplements may interact with your medications or pose risks if you have some medical issues. This is why it is important to let your doctor and registered dietitian nutritionist know all the medicines and other herbal supplements you are taking before deciding on a nutrition supplement suitable for you.
Safety precautions: what to look out for when choosing a supplement for PCOS?
As we have established earlier, it is not easy to know whether or not a dietary supplement is safe because they are not FDA regulated. However, there are independent, non-profit US Pharmacopoeial (USP) Convention Dietary Supplement Verification Program that tests to know whether a dietary supplement is of high quality and not contaminated or adulterated with other materials.
When you get a nutrition supplement, check for a label that shows it has been USP-verified. Brands that display the USP Verified Mark signal that what’s on their label is what’s in the bottle.
However, not all dietary supplements may be verified by the USP; there are some other companies that independently test and review dietary supplements to ascertain that the product contains the listed ingredients and is not contaminated or adulterated.
In addition, it is best to stick to domestically manufactured supplements rather than those imported from countries where regulations are unclear.
Another way to ensure that the supplements you’re taking are safe is to buy them from a reputable health store, pharmacy, or other reliable sources that provide some assurance of quality.
What supplements should you invest in for PCOS?
Inositol is likely the most popular supplement available for women with PCOS looking to get pregnant.
You may wonder what is special about inositol, and the answer is simple—insulin sensitivity.
As many as 70% of women with PCOS have insulin resistance. In women with PCOS, treatment with Myoinositols and D-chiro-inositol, the two most common forms of inositol found in supplements, has been demonstrated to increase insulin sensitivity and lower male hormone levels. Furthermore, they also improve ovarian function.
In fact, Myoinositol has been found to improve the number of good quality oocytes, clinical pregnancies, and delivery rates in overweight women with PCOS, making Inositol one of the top fertility supplements for PCOS.
Some research has shown that many common PCOS symptoms like insulin resistance, androgen levels, and obesity have a negative effect on microbes in the gut. Furthermore, other research suggests that prenatal androgen exposure might lead to an imbalance in the gut microbial, which can lead to PCOS later in life.
Taking Probiotics goes beyond digestion and gut health. They can also reduce inflammation and help correct hormonal imbalances for PCOS patients.
In one clinical trial conducted in 2015, 72 women aged 15-20 diagnosed with PCOS were divided into two groups. One group was given probiotics and the other a placebo, for 8 weeks. At the end of the 8 weeks, it was found that the women who were given probiotics saw a significant reduction in serum insulin levels. High insulin and high blood sugar levels are key symptoms of insulin resistance, a reduction in serum insulin is a win in the fight against PCOS.
In addition to all these benefits, probiotics also help boost the immune system.
N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)
N-acetylcysteine is an antioxidant used to manage several conditions, including asthma. Women with PCOS show decreased levels of antioxidants and increased levels of inflammation. NAC increases the level of glutathione, a known antioxidant and also has the ability to regulate the levels of inflammatory markers responsible for inflammation.
NAC can also help reduce insulin sensitivity, lower testosterone levels, control ovulation, and improve fertility in women with PCOS.
Even more astonishing, one Study that compared NAC with metformin found that NAC can improve fasting blood sugar (FBS) and fasting blood insulin better than metformin. NAC has also been revealed to have the same effectiveness in treating excess androgens as metformin. The effect of NAC on lowering androgen levels also helps combat common secondary PCOS symptoms like acne and facial hair growth.
In addition, NAC is a great choice for women with PCOS who are looking to get pregnant. NAC has been demonstrated to increase PCOS patients’ chances of getting pregnant significantly.
Most women with PCOS have been shown to be zinc deficient. In addition, zinc deficiency has been linked to PCOS symptoms such as insulin resistance and excess androgens.
Women who take Zinc supplements have seen a significant improvement in insulin resistance.
Zinc supplementation may help to improve hormonal imbalances and ovulation. In addition, zinc anti-androgen effects may also help improve other common PCOS symptoms like acne, facial hair growth, and alopecia.
According to a study published in 2015, about 67 to 85% of women with PCOS have low vitamin D levels.
When your Vitamin D levels are low, it may worsen PCOS symptoms, including insulin resistance, dysfunction in ovulation, menstrual irregularities, infertility, excessive androgens, and obesity. It may also increase your risk of cardiovascular problems.
Supplementing vitamin D alongside metformin and calcium may benefit menstrual regularity and ovulation. This makes it an important supplement for women looking to get pregnant.
Berberine is another important nutrition supplement that helps improve insulin resistance in the ovarian cells of women with PCOS. This action improves the ovulation rate per cycle, making berberine important in improving fertility and live birth rates in women affected by PCOS.
Berberine also has a high tolerance level and low side effects, which makes it useful in long-term use in managing women with PCOS.
This is not a comprehensive list of all the available PCOS supplements. There are several others that may be helpful in dealing with your PCOS symptoms. Keep in mind that different supplements have different effects and what works for one might not work for another. So, it is best to work closely with a health professional who specializes in treating PCOS to know the supplements available that would be best for your symptoms.
Why should you purchase your PCOS supplements at Holness Nutrition?
If you are ready to invest in nutrition supplements for your PCOS symptoms, you know there is another important step to take: ensuring whether the supplements you get are safe and effective for your symptoms.
While most supplements could be purchased over the counter, you cannot guarantee their safety or efficacy.
At Holness Nutrition, you are assured of obtaining the highest quality, drug-registered supplements from top industry brands. In addition, you will receive a personalized professional-grade supplements recommendation from a PCOS and hormone health specialist registered dietitian nutritionist. So book a free call today to get started.
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