3 Reasons to Take Vitamin D If You Have PCOS

More people are recognizing that vitamin D is important for good health. It helps build strong bones and boosts your ability to fight colds and infections.

Vitamin D affects many systems in your body and is related to serious diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. So maybe it's not surprising that vitamin D also plays a role in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Woman pouring vitamin D capsules into her hand

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About 67% to 85% of women with PCOS are vitamin D deficient, which means they don’t have the recommended amount of vitamin D in their bodies. These low levels of vitamin D seem to aggravate PCOS symptoms.

In this article, you’ll gain a better understanding of why taking vitamin D could help you with fertility problems, mood disorders, and chronic diseases related to PCOS.

Improves Fertility

Having a regular menstrual cycle can play an important role in helping you conceive. PCOS can cause irregular periods, which can lead to fertility problems.

Taking 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D with 1000 milligrams (mg) of calcium has been shown to regulate the menstrual cycles of women with PCOS. In studies, treatment included at least three months of daily supplements.

In addition, studies show that without sufficient vitamin D, women don’t produce normal, mature eggs. As a result, they may not be able to conceive or carry a healthy baby to full term. 

Low vitamin D can also cause problems with the uterus. It may not develop properly or be able to support a baby’s development.

Ensuring adequate amounts of vitamin D, then, can help mitigate these issues. This may be particularly important for women with PCOS who are experiencing pregnancy challenges.

Vitamin D also helped women with PCOS who were taking the fertility drug Clomid (clomiphene). With the vitamin supplements, these women had more success conceiving via in vitro fertilization (IVF).

The vitamin D seems to result in women having more mature follicles, which are the sacs that release eggs. This means more healthy eggs could be harvested for IVF so they can be combined with sperm in a lab for later implantation.

Recap

Vitamin D may help with PCOS-related fertility problems in those who are deficient. Supplementation may help:

  • Regulate the menstrual cycle
  • Help eggs fully mature
  • Help the uterus become strong enough to support a baby
  • Promote more mature follicles, which can help those planning for IVF produce more viable eggs

Lowers Your Risk of Other Diseases

With PCOS, you’re more likely to develop other serious health problems. Many of these are related to metabolic syndrome. 

Metabolic syndrome refers to a group of conditions that put you at risk for heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. These conditions include:

Metabolic syndrome affects 33% of women with PCOS. To prevent complications related to metabolic syndrome, women with PCOS are usually advised to lose weight and eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. 

A lack of vitamin D has been directly linked to metabolic syndrome. For instance, in studies:

  • Vitamin D helped prevent insulin resistance, a condition in which your body can’t regulate blood sugar.
  • Insulin, triglycerides, and cholesterol levels improved for overweight women with PCOS who took vitamin D for eight weeks.
  • Vitamin D and calcium supplements significantly reduced blood pressure in women with PCOS.

Recap

Increasing your vitamin D levels can help you avoid illnesses associated with metabolic syndrome and related disorders, the risks of which are increased when you have PCOS.

Better Mood

It’s estimated that 50% of women with PCOS suffer from anxiety and up to 27% are depressed. These rates are much higher than those of depression and anxiety among women without PCOS.

Anxiety and depression can be caused by a number of factors related to PCOS symptoms:

  • Hormone imbalances may throw off mood.
  • Growth of facial hair and body changes can make women self-conscious about their appearances.
  • Dealing with health complications can cause physical and financial stress.
  • Infertility can lead to severe depression.

There's a difficult cycle between depression and PCOS-related illnesses. Symptoms of depression may include appetite changes, physical pain, digestive issues, and sleep problems. These can further aggravate health problems that are associated with PCOS, including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and high cholesterol. 

Increasing your vitamin D is one way to help regulate your mood and break out of the cycle in which health problems lead to depression and depression leads to even more health problems.

Recap

Women who have too little vitamin D are more likely to have depression, regardless of their general health. But if you have PCOS, you need to be more aware of this since depression increases your risk of health problems you're already likely to develop because of your condition. Be sure to see your doctor for any changes in mood.

How Much Vitamin D Is Needed?

There isn’t a suggested dosage of vitamin D specifically for PCOS. Women ages 19 to 50 are advised to take 600 IU each day, but this may not be sufficient for many women with PCOS.

Some women may need to increase their intake. Talk to your doctor about your specific needs.

Sources of Vitamin D

Few foods naturally contain a significant amount of vitamin D. But you can get some from:

  • Fortified milk and cereals
  • Eggs
  • Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna

The sun provides as much as 90% of the body’s vitamin D. That may not be enough to meet your overall vitamin D needs, though.

Plus, wearing sunscreen blocks the sun's rays from your skin to such an extent that vitamin D cannot be manufactured. Many areas of the United States also don’t get enough sun to ensure that those living there get enough exposure to make sufficient vitamin D.

Summary

Vitamin D deficiency can make symptoms of PCOS worse. Taking a daily vitamin D supplement with 600 IU may ease some PCOS problems such as infertility, weight gain, and anxiety. That in turn, can improve your overall health and further improve your emotional state and energy, which can lead to even more wellness gains.

Vitamin D supplements are not "miracle pills" that will make PCOS or other illnesses disappear, but they could be an important part of living well with PCOS.

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13 Sources
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