Vitamins and Minerals Role in PCOS Health

Managing weight and maintaining a healthy diet is a primary part of managing polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a metabolic syndrome. Many studies have found associations between hormonal imbalances, insulin resistance, obesity, and PCOS. Vitamins and minerals are an essential part of any healthy eating plan and are often the most overlooked.

This article discusses the role vitamins and minerals play in PCOS management.

Woman with vitamins in her hand
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How Vitamins Deficiency Affects PCOS

Vitamins have important functions within the body. For example, vitamin D deficiency has repeatedly been linked to insulin resistance, PCOS, and depression.

In women with PCOS, high insulin levels can cause the ovaries to make more androgens (a group of hormones that play a role in male traits and reproductive activity). This can cause increased body hair, acne, and irregular or few periods.

Insulin is the hormone that helps the cells and tissues of the body use glucose and having insulin resistance can increase your risk for both diabetes and PCOS.

Lastly, folate and vitamin B (12) treatments are shown to improve insulin resistance in patients with metabolic syndrome.

In studies, there have been correlations made between vitamin deficiencies and PCOS. In fact, a 2014 study published in Archives of Women's Mental Health suggests vitamin D deficiency may also be a modifiable risk factor for depressive symptoms in women with PCOS.

What Are Vitamins and How Do They Work?

Vitamins aid enzymes in doing their work as coenzymes. An enzyme is a special protein that causes a particular chemical reaction. Many enzymes require a coenzyme, which makes up a necessary portion of the enzyme. Without its coenzyme, thousands of chemical reactions would be left incomplete.

There are two different types of vitamins: fat soluble and water soluble.

Fat-Soluble Vitamins

Fat-soluble vitamins require special fat molecules called chylomicrons to be absorbed with them into the lymphatic system prior to entering the blood. Once they do enter the bloodstream, proteins are needed to carry them through the blood vessels. Because excess amounts are stored in the fatty tissue, it is possible to accumulate such large doses that they can become toxic. This typically happens due to taking inappropriate vitamin supplements, not because of diet imbalances. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble.

Vitamin D, often called the sunshine vitamin, is recognized as being important in controlling blood sugar and improving insulin sensitivity. Low levels of vitamin D are also associated with insulin resistance and obesity in women with PCOS.

Water-Soluble Vitamins

Water-soluble vitamins do not require special proteins to aid absorption into the bloodstream and are able to move freely throughout the blood and body cells. Excess amounts are secreted in the urine, preventing a toxic build-up. Vitamins B and C are water-soluble vitamins.

Vitamins B2, B3, B5, and B6 are also very useful for controlling weight in the following ways:

  • Vitamin B2: Processes fat, sugar, and protein into energy. It is also known as riboflavin.
  • Vitamin B3: A component of the glucose tolerance factor which is released every time blood sugar rises, to help keep levels in balance. It is also known as niacin.
  • Vitamin B5: Is essential for fat metabolism. It is also known as pantothenic acid.
  • Vitamin B6: Maintains hormone balance. Balanced hormones are key to maintaining a healthy body weight.

The Effect Minerals Have on PCOS

Minerals are inorganic materials, meaning they are not alive or do not originate from living things such as plants or animals.

Examples of minerals include:

  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium

Minerals serve many important functions within the body. Bones and teeth are made of primarily calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. The balance of fluids within the body is largely due to the movement of minerals such as sodium, potassium, and chloride within the different body compartments. Calcium and potassium are key players in the transmission of nerve signals and muscle contractions.

The body maintains its balance of minerals in a variety of ways, depending on the mineral. Calcium is stored in the body and in the bones and is released when it’s needed elsewhere in the body. When the body is missing some key minerals, like iron, the body will increase the amount that is absorbed during digestion. Generally, minerals that are not stored in the body tissues do not accumulate to toxic levels because excess amounts will be excreted in the waste. Grains, vegetables, dairy, and proteins are good sources of dietary minerals, while fruits, oils, and sugars are not.

As noted, vitamin D is required for calcium absorption, which further drives the point that proper vitamin and mineral intake is vital for women with PCOS.

Studies are now underway to see whether women with PCOS may have excess androgens due to altered cortisol metabolism.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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Additional Reading
  • Dudek S. Nutrition Essentials for Nursing Practice. 9th, North American edition. LWW; 2021.

By Nicole Galan, RN
Nicole Galan, RN, is a registered nurse and the author of "The Everything Fertility Book."