The Top Supplements For PCOS
If you read last week’s post, you know that lifestyle changes are the foundation of managing PCOS, specifically eating a whole foods diet that is low in carbohydrates that spike blood sugar and avoiding toxins in the environment that can act like hormones. These aren’t the only approaches; they are a powerful first step in bringing hormones back into better balance.
Supplements are used as support while these changes are being made. They can’t be the only strategy because supplements can never be overcome with a poor lifestyle alone.
Having said that, here are seven of the most effective supplements for PCOS. Here’s a link to a protocol I created in Fullscript for these favorites.
Top 7 PCOS Supplements
Inositol, or vitamin B8, is one of the best supplements for women with PCOS because of its support of health blood sugar and ovarian health. Oftentimes, when you see inositol on a label, that is myo-inositol, but for PCOS, two forms are most helpful. Most studies have shown benefits with Myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol (DCI) at a specific ratio of 40:1.
Many individuals with PCOS have low vitamin D levels, which can impact overall health. A supplement may be recommended if your levels are low, and it should be combined with Vitamin K2 for best efficacy. Your goal level, unless otherwise indicated, is 50-70 ng/mL.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
Omega-3s can help decrease inflammation in the body. Many researchers believe that inflammation is a possible cause for insulin resistance and PCOS. Fish oil can help lower inflammation and help your cells to better use insulin, which is a root cause of PCOS.Studies show that omega-3s can help reduce testosterone and regulate the menstrual cycle in women with PCOS. Another study found that, along with a decrease in testosterone, omega-3s increased sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) levels.
Omega-3s can help decrease inflammation in the body. Many researchers believe that inflammation is a possible cause for insulin resistance and PCOS. Fish oil can help lower inflammation and help your cells to better use insulin, which is a root cause of PCOS.
Studies show that omega-3s can help reduce testosterone and regulate the menstrual cycle in women with PCOS. Another study found that, along with a decrease in testosterone, omega-3s increased sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) levels.
N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) is an antioxidant and amino acid that the body needs for overall endocrine health. A study of NAC found that NAC treatment had a significant effect on decreasing:
- BMI (aka weight loss)
- Hirsutism (less hair on face, chest and abdomen)
- Fasting insulin (better blood sugar control)
- Free testosterone (less oily skin, acne, and hair loss)
- Menstrual irregularities
They also found that NAC had similar results to metformin, drug that is used to treat high blood sugar. That doesn’t mean you should stop metformin if you’re taking it, but it may be worth a conversation with your doctor, especially if you are challenged by the side effects of metformin (GI upset, diarrhea, B-12 deficiency).
A review of studies found that NAC showed significant improvement in pregnancy and ovulation rate for women with PCOS.
Most women should be taking magnesium for overall health. Low magnesium has been linked to high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis, and other serious concerns. Taking magnesium can help reduce these risks while also improving energy, mood, hormone balance, bowel regularity, and more.
Low magnesium is associated with diabetes, since the body uses magnesium in the breakdown of sugar and usage of insulin. One study found that 300mg of magnesium at bedtime had a significant improvement in fasting blood glucose and insulin levels. Thus, increasing magnesium can help improve insulin resistance— and thus PCOS as well.
A combination of zinc and saw palmetto can help your body eliminate extra testosterone, which causes PCOS. These supplements actually reduce the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase that converts testosterone into a more powerful androgen called DHT.
Zinc is useful for reducing hair overgrowth, acne, mood disturbances, and weight gain in women suffering from PCOS related to excess testosterone. Overall, studies conclude that zinc positively impacts PCOS women’s metabolic profiles.
7. Vitex (chasteberry):
Vitex agnus-castus supports overall hormonal balance in the body, particularly influencing progesterone levels.
Vitex influences the master pituitary gland. This gland in your brain tells the ovaries how to do their job and how many hormones to make. Vitex can intercept this hormonal feedback loop and improve the balance of estrogen and progesterone and balance testosterone. This has been shown to help with PCOS symptoms like cysts, acne, PMS, miscarriage, and endometriosis.
While supplements alone can’t take care of the imbalances that PCOS causes, they CAN be a powerful tool for support. Not all supplements will work for all women, so it may take a bit of trial and error to find the right combination that works for you. If you’d like to discuss your situation further, please schedule a consultation using the button below.
Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone-balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Dr. Anna is the author of Perimenopause: The Savvy Sister’s Guide to Hormone Harmony. Order your copy at www.perimenopausebook.com.
Dr. Anna is available for 1-1 consultation. Find out more at www.drannagarrett.com/lets-talk.