My Must Have PCOS Supplements
Do you really need to take supplements for your PCOS?
As much as I promote nutrition as the foundation of a healthy lifestyle, I also recognize the place that supplements have in our lives, especially for PCOS.
So yes, I do believe supplements are necessary to manage and reverse PCOS symptoms. Sometimes you will need more at a specific time, and there are some supplements that may need to be taken on an ongoing basis.
It can be daunting to navigate supplements with so much information out there and differing opinions.
Every case will be different however there are some supplements that I have found to be critical and commonly deficient in PCOS. And I have seen great improvements with my own health and with my clients, so here we go, these are some of my staples:
*Always check in with your health care provider before starting supplementation to make sure it is suitable for you.*
The most commonly deficient vitamin worldwide, and even more so in PCOS. Studies indicate that 3 out of 4 women with PCOS may show insufficient vitamin D levels.
Though technically a hormone, vitamin D is involved in many hormonal processes in the body, and receptors have even been found in the ovaries and endometrium.
Optimal Vitamin D status is vital for proper immune function, as it helps fight infections, and it could also lower your overall risk for chronic disease.
For women with PCOS, this hormone is essential as it has been shown to help regulate insulin production (deficiency has been linked with insulin resistance), reduce inflammatory markers, promote fertility (low levels have been associated with lowered pregnancy rates), decrease androgen production, promote ovulation, and prevent birth defects in pregnant women.
It also makes you feel good. Do you feel moody or down in the winter time? You may not be getting enough vitamin D!
Try to get 20 minutes of unprotected sun exposure daily, include vitamin D rich foods like sardines, wild salmon, eggs, and mackerel or look into a vitamin D3 supplement. If you do supplement, always take vitamin D3 with vitamin K2, to enhance absorption.
The superhero mineral for PCOS. I see magnesium make a tremendous difference in my clients’ symptoms and I have seen the same with myself. From supporting sleep, reducing anxiety, eliminating leg cramps, promoting digestive function, and easing PMS symptoms, this mineral seems to do it all!
It is also a natural anti-inflammatory, helps manage insulin production, promotes energy production and glucose uptake into the cell, regulates cortisol production, improves anxiety, and supports hormonal production. Not only is magnesium harder to get through our food supply (due to depleted soils), it is also dumped out of the body in times of stress, and it has been shown to be deficient even more so in women with PCOS.
Magnesium rich foods include almonds, leafy greens, kelp, raw cacao, sunflower seeds, and beans.
Look for magnesium citrate if you suffer from constipation as this will provide a mild laxative effect, otherwise choose bisglycinate for improved absorption and to receive the benefits for sleep, anxiety, and muscle relaxation. Typical dosages range from 150-600mg.
Most of us these days get too many omega 6 fats and not enough omega 3 fats (found in cold water fish and plants like flax, chia and walnuts). This results in increased inflammation. NOT what we want when treating PCOS!
Omega 3 fatty acids help lower inflammation, nourish and protect the brain (improving mood, anxiety, and reducing the risk for neurological degeneration), improve cardiovascular health, and support healthy skin, hair, and nails.
In studies for PCOS, omega 3 fats have shown impressive results by lowering androgens like testosterone, as well as triglycerides, and blood pressure. Not only that, supplementation can improve insulin regulation, weight control, and fatty liver disease in PCOS women.
To get omega 3 fats into your diet include plant sources like flaxseeds, chia, leafy greens, walnuts, and animal sources like wild salmon, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies.
Fish oil has been shown to be a more effective source of omega 3 compared to plant sources as the conversion to EPA and DHA (the specific essential fatty acids that are responsible for these benefits) is quite poor in the latter. If you are vegan the best supplement option for you would be an algae supplement. Typical dosing ranges from 1000 - 3000mg of EPA & DHA. Always choose a good quality source with third party testing!
If you suffer from acne, you may want to add more zinc into your day to day regimen. Zinc has anti-androgenic and anti-inflammatory properties which makes it a fantastic mineral to combat androgenic symptoms like hirsutism, acne, and hair loss. Zinc has been shown to improve insulin resistance, cycle regularity, and thyroid health by supporting thyroid hormone production.
It is also a very important nutrient for immune function and healing the intestinal tract in cases such as leaky gut.
Deficiency is common especially if you are taking hormonal birth control,
Zinc rich foods include seafood, yogurt, grass-fed beef, pumpkin seeds, and cashews.
Dosing typically starts at around 15-30mg. Zinc glycinate, picolinate, and sulfate are all good sources for supplementation.
B-vitamins are involved in numerous processes in the body including the metabolism of foods, neurotransmitter and hormone production, liver detoxification, adrenal function, and energy production.
Deficiency can worsen PCOS and create symptoms like fatigue, lethargy, weight gain, mood imbalances, and anemia.
If you are taking medications like metformin or hormonal birth control, you may want to look into a good quality B-Complex supplement as b -vitamins are depleted by these meds. Always choose a supplement with the active forms of the vitamins to make sure you reap the benefits.
Foods that can boost your b-vitamin status are leafy greens, liver, meats, algae, fish, and eggs. Always choose organic/pasture raised/free range animal products!
By far my favourite supplements of all time. These herbs have made the most significant impact on my health, and I incorporate them on a daily basis. Adaptogens are herbs that help enhance the body’s ability to respond to stressors and lower cortisol levels. They are great for people who are highly stressed, active, or experience sleep problems, because they help regulate our circadian rhythm. With PCOS there is a lot of stress on the body, physically and emotionally, and most women encounter adrenal imbalances. My personal favourites are ashwagandha, rhodiola, and holy basil. As a type A highly stressed person, since incorporating adaptogens into my routine my sleep has changed significantly, my anxiety has lessened, and my energy levels have increased.
Every adaptogen has specific properties therefore do your research before you pick the one for you. I like to rotate them depending on what I need and what I am experiencing in my life.
Mushrooms can also be classified as adaptogens and are great for immune and stress support. I love incorporating herbs and mushrooms as foods rather than pills into my diet, getting all the benefits and more! Four Sigmatic is my favourite for an afternoon pick me up or bedtime concoction, also amazing for travel! I am also obsessed with this turmeric reishi latte mix that puts me to sleep and calms me down right away.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. GUT HEALTH IS EVERYTHING. And studies have shown women with PCOS tend to have poor gut function. By improving our beneficial flora, also called our microbiome, we can improve hormonal balance (these microbes are involved in estrogen detoxification for example), nutrient status, weight balance, skin health, and immune function,
All of this results in improved blood sugar, fertility status, menstrual cycle regularity and ovulation, and reduced symptoms like PMS.
Be sure to include prebiotic foods (that feed our microbes) like under ripe bananas, raw leeks, onions, raw garlic, and dandelion greens and lots of vegetables to get that fiber! Probiotic foods include sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, tempeh and kimchi.
If you are supplementing, always look for a good quality probiotic, starting at atleast 15 billion CFU that includes acidophilus and bifido strains.
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