5 PCOS Supplements that REALLY Work

 
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When I was diagnosed with PCOS - I wanted to take all the possible supplement I could to make the annoying symptoms go away. I spent so much money on supplements that weren't even proven to help. All I ended up doing was making my hormones even more out of whack. Once I graduated with a bachelors degree in Nutrition Science and learned more about the fluid nature of nutrition, I wanted to generate a source for women with PCOS with supplements for PCOS that actually underwent scientific studies. So here it is - from common supplements such as fish oil to more obscure ones such as inositol, there is a growing body of evidence supporting the use of supplements mentioned below in the control of PCOS. Remember that as with any medication, these supplements may lead to medication interactions, side effects, and contraindications so it is important to speak with your doctor before beginning any supplement regimen. 

1. Inositol

Inositol is found in many plants, animals, and is produced by our bodies. It is commonly used to treat PCOS in the MYO-inositol form and DCI-inositol form, two of the nine available forms on inositol. These forms of inositol have been shown to significantly decrease weight, testosterone levels, blood pressure, insulin levels and triglycerides in those diagnosed with PCOS (6, 9, 10). They have also been used to increase fertility by affecting both ovulation frequency and overall egg quality (7, 8, 10).  It is recommended to consume a specific ratio of the two different forms of inositol, MYO and DCI at 40:1 respectively, with amounts of each ranging from 2-4 grams of the MYO form and 50-100mg of the DCI form (5).

 

2. Berberine

Berberine is a compound found in many plants that has been used in ancient Chinese medicine for thousands of years. It has now been studied in modern times in the treatment of fertility issues, insulin reactivity, and cholesterol levels in those diagnosed with PCOS. This compound has been shown to improve pregnancy outcomes in those seeking IVF treatments, lower triglycerides, increase HDL cholesterol, and improve insulin sensitivity (11, 12, 13). The therapeutic dose of Berberine is 1500mg per day however it is recommended to slowly increase dosage starting with 500mg one time per day and working up to three times per day. This slow increase will likely prevent GI upset, a common side effect of Berberine supplementation, however, if GI upset continues decrease dosage to 300mg three times per day (14). 

 

3. Fish Oil or a vegan alternative

Fish Oil, or omega-3s, supplements are commonly touted for their heart-healthy benefits including improving our good cholesterol, dropping our bad cholesterol, and normalizing our total cholesterol. For those with PCOS, this supplement does more than just promote a healthy heart. Fish Oil supplementation has been shown to decrease testosterone levels, decrease waist circumference, and increase the frequency of menstrual periods (15, 16). These scientific studies saw results with fish oil amounts of 2-3 grams per day. More research is needed on the specific benefits of fish oil for those with PCOS, but the research has proven its value for those looking to have a healthy heart. If you're plant-based like I am, you can use an algae supplement like this one: https://amzn.to/2KosUJl

 

4. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is not only the highlight of fall baking; in recent scientific studies, it has also shown its powers in improving blood sugars, menstrual period frequency, and hormone normalization (3, 2, 4). The action of cinnamon’s superpowers is deemed to be the slowing of digestion in the stomach. Otherwise known as gastric emptying, this increase in digestion time leads to lessened starch absorption, which translates to decreased blood sugar spikes (1). Cinnamon can be taken as a capsule or the spice added to your foods, only 2 teaspoons or 6 grams per day is needed (1). Beyond traditional baking recipes, try adding cinnamon to smoothies, breakfasts, coffee, and snacks.

 

5. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an important vitamin and hormone for all of our body’s cells. In those with PCOS, Vitamin D can play important roles in fertility, inflammation, and hormone levels. In recent studies, Vitamin D decreased testosterone, inflammation, and improved fertility outcomes (17, 18, 19). Deficiency of this vitamin/hormone is all too common even though it is readily available through sunlight and diet. Our Vitamin D level is determined using a blood test and those suffering from lower amounts will have to supplement accordingly, usually, supplementation of Vitamin D is recommended up to 4,000 IU daily (20).

 

Learn more about how I healed my PCOS naturally:

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READ BLOG: HOW I FEEL ABOUT KETO FOR PCOS?

Sources:

  1. Hlebowicz J, Darwiche G, Bjorgell O, Olof L. Effect of cinnamon on postprandial blood glucose, gastric emptying, and satiety in healthy subjects. Amer J Clin Nutr. 2007;85(6):1552-1556.

  2. Kort DH, Lobo RA. Preliminary evidence that cinnamon improves menstrual cyclicity in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized controlled trial.Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2014 Nov;211(5):487.e1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2014.05.009. Epub 2014 May 9.

  3. Wang JG, Anderson RA, Graham GM, 3rd, et al. The effect of cinnamon extract on insulin resistance parameters in polycystic ovary syndrome: a pilot study. Fertility and sterility. Jul 2007;88(1):240-243.

  4. Wiweko B, Susanto CAThe Effect of Metformin and Cinnamon on Serum Anti-Mullerian Hormone in Women Having PCOS: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Controlled Trial. J Hum Reprod Sci. 2017 Jan-Mar;10(1):31-36.

  5. Nordio M, Proietti E. The combined therapy with myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol reduces the risk of metabolic disease in PCOS overweight patients compared to myo-inositol supplementation alone. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2012 May;16(5):575-81.

  6. Genazzani AD, Prati A, Santagni S, et al. Differential insulin response to myo-inositol administration in obese polycystic ovary syndrome patients. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2012;28(12):969-973.

  7. Le Donne M, Alibrandi A, Giarrusso R, Lo Monaco I, Muraca U. [Diet, metformin and inositol in overweight and obese women with polycystic ovary syndrome: effects on body composition]. Minerva ginecologica. 2012;64(1):23-29.

  8. Unfer V, Carlomagno G, Rizzo P, Raffone E, Roseff S. Myo-inositol rather than D-chiro-inositol is able to improve oocyte quality in intracytoplasmic sperm injection cycles. A prospective, controlled, randomized trial. Europ review med pharmacol sci. 2011;15(4):452-457.

  9. Costantino D, Minozzi G, Minozzi E, Guaraldi C. Metabolic and hormonal effects of myo-inositol in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a doubleblind trial. Europ review med pharmacol sci. 2009;13(2):105-110.

  10. Venturella R, Mocciaro R, De Trana E, D’Alessandro P, Morelli M, Zullo F. [Assessment of the modification of the clinical, endocrinal and metabolical profile of patients with PCOS syndrome treated with myo-inositol]. Minerva ginecologica. 2012;64(3):239-243.

  11. Wei W1, Zhao H, Wang A, Sui M, Liang K, Deng H, Ma Y, Zhang Y, Zhang H, Guan Y. A clinical study on the short-term effect of berberine in comparison to metformin on the metabolic characteristics of women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Eur J Endocrinol. 2012 Jan;166(1):99-105.

  12. An Y, Sun Z, Zhang Y, Liu B, Guan Y, Lu M. The use of berberine for women with polycystic ovary syndrome undergoing IVF treatment. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2014 Mar;80(3):425-31. doi: 10.1111/cen.12294.

  13. Lin L. A Single Arm Pilot Study of Effects of Berberine on the Menstrual Pattern, Ovulation Rate, Hormonal and Metabolic Profiles in Anovulatory Chinese Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. PLoS One. 2015; 10(12): e0144072

  14. Yin J, Xing H, Ye J. Efficacy of Berberine in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes. Metabolism: clinical and experimental. 2008;57(5):712-717. doi:10.1016/j.metabol.2008.01.013.

  15. Nadjarzadeh A, Dehghani Firouzabadi R, Vaziri N, Daneshbodi H, Lotfi MH, Mozaffari-Khosravi H. The effect of omega-3 supplementation on androgen profile and menstrual status in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: A randomized clinical trial. Iranian Journal of Reproductive Medicine. 2013;11(8):665-672.

  16. Khani B, Mardanian F, Fesharaki SJ. Omega-3 supplementation effects on polycystic ovary syndrome symptoms and metabolic syndrome. Journal of Research in Medical Sciences : The Official Journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences. 2017;22:64. doi:10.4103/jrms.JRMS_644_16.

  17. Azadi-Yazdi M1, Nadjarzadeh A1, Khosravi-Boroujeni H. The Effect of Vitamin D Supplementation on the Androgenic Profile in Patients with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Clinical Trials. Horm Metab Res. 2017 Mar;49(3):174-179.

  18. Calcium plus vitamin D supplementation influences biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress in overweight and vitamin D-deficient women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial.

  19. Rashidi B et al. The effects of calcium-vitamin D and metformin on polycystic ovary syndrome: a pilot study.Taiwanese J Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2009;48:142–147.

  20. Office of Dietary Supplements - Vitamin D. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-Consumer/. Accessed April 20, 2018.