What is PCOS?
Polycystic ovary syndrome, commonly referred to as PCOS, is an endocrine disorder that affects 1 in 10 people with ovaries in the UK. In people with PCOS, there is often an imbalance of hormones such as insulin and testosterone. This imbalance can result in several symptoms related to PCOS including loss of hair, irregular periods and hirsutism.
Should I take supplements for PCOS?
Supplements can be used to correct nutrient deficiencies. Your healthcare professional can advise if supplements are suitable for you.
Remember to take supplements for at least three to six months to be able to see if the desired effect is being achieved.
The Best Supplements for PCOS
There are a variety of supplements that may be beneficial in PCOS management. Continue reading to find out more.
Inositol (d-chiro-inositol and myo-inositol)
lnositol was categorised as a vitamin B complex and acts as a vitamin-like substance. Myo-inositol is involved in the function of FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone), and ovulation and can help to improve egg quality. D-chiro-inositol is involved in regulating testosterone production and lowering the risk of metabolic diseases such as high blood pressure and increased blood lipids.
A meta-analysis (review of multiple randomised controlled trials) found that supplementing with myo-inositol alone or in combination with d-chiro-inositol (DCI) may have beneficial effects. The evidence has found decreased insulin levels, a slight reduction in testosterone, and an increase in serum SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin). The review concluded that supplementation with inositol can help to improve the metabolic profile of individuals with PCOS, whilst reducing their hyperandrogenism.
Overall emerging research suggests it may be beneficial for PCOS management, however further research is required. We have a whole article on where you can purchase inositol.
Multiple studies have investigated the effects of vitamin D supplementation on individuals with PCOS. Due to the suggested benefits, including; improved insulin resistance, glucose levels and hyperandrogenism in patients with PCOS, it may be considered a possible treatment option for PCOS. However further wider studies are required to conclusively confirm the results.
The recommended amount of vitamin D supplementation is 10mg a day for the general population.
N-acetyl-cysteine, also known as NAC, plays an important role in the production of glutathione: an antioxidant in the body. A systematic review found that supplementation of NAC has been found to improve pregnancy and ovulation rates when compared to placebos. However further well-designed trials are required to examine clinical outcomes.
Studies investigating the effects of Omega-3 supplementation for PCOS, have found that it may help with regaining the frequency of periods as well as lowering levels of testosterone and cholesterol.
Takeaways for supplementation for PCOS
Whilst further research is required for many of the above supplementation recommendations for PCOS, the limited research does show promise in this area. If you are interested in trying supplementation, always consult with a health professional first.
Written by Michala Rooney. Reviewed and edited by Annabel Sparrow (Associate Registered Nutritionist).