PCOS Review Newsletter #41
1) Is Vitamin D a "Missing Link" in PCOS?
There is a "forgotten vitamin" that can play a very important role in dealing with PCOS and improving your overall health.
It's vitamin D, the "sunshine" vitamin. Unfortunately, women with PCOS tend to have lower than adequate vitamin D levels. This is not good.
Optimal vitamin D levels are important for:
- Improved fertility (a big problem in PCOS).
- Controlling weight (a big problem in PCOS).
- Liver health (fatty liver disease and damage is common in PCOS).
- Reducing insulin resistance and avoiding pancreas exhaustion (common in PCOS plus increased risk of diabetes).
- Prevention of bone loss and osteoporosis.
- Positive mood and cognitive performance.
- Breast health.
- Gastrointestinal tract health.
- Nervous system health.
- And more!
You're more likely to have a vitamin D insufficiency if you live in northern latitudes or cloudy climates, stay mostly indoors, or are fully clothed or use sunscreen when outdoors. Or if you are a strict vegetarian.
For many, vitamin D supplementation will be helpful.
Last month, we mentioned that a new nutritional supplement for PCOS will be coming to market very soon. This product will contain a substantial amount of vitamin D. So you will want to consider this supplement partly for its vitamin D content.
2) Vitamin D and Fertility
Medical studies have established a role for calcium in egg maturation and normal follicular development. As you may know, PCOS is characterized by abnormal follicular development and there is some indication that insulin resistance in PCOS may impair egg quality.
Vitamin D plays a crucial role in calcium absorption and regulation and thus may help to normalize the development of your follicles and increase odds of becoming fertile.
A study conducted at Columbia University investigated whether vitamin D and calcium dysregulation contribute to the development of follicular arrest in women with PCOS, resulting in reproductive and menstrual dysfunction.
They studied 13 women who had PCOS symptoms that included chronic lack of ovulation, excessive male hormones and vitamin D insufficiency. Nine had abnormal pelvic sonograms with multiple ovarian follicular cysts.
All were hirsute, two had hair loss, and five had acanthosis nigricans.
Vitamin D combined with calcium supplementation resulted in normalized menstrual cycles within 2 months for seven women. Two became pregnant and the others maintained normal menstrual cycles. These data suggest that abnormalities in calcium balance may be responsible, in part, for the arrested follicular development in women with PCOS and may contribute to the pathogenesis of PCOS.
Supplemental vitamin D may be one of the many things you can do to increase your ability to become pregnant.
We'll talk about other benefits of vitamin D in future
Thys-Jacobs S, et al, Vitamin D and calcium dysregulation in the polycystic ovarian syndrome, Steroids. 1999 Jun;64(6):430-5.
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