I have talked about Vitamin D a lot. It is quite magical really. A "vitamin" that is really like a hormone, that affects most systems in your body. From your cardiovascular system, to your immune system, your bones, preventing cancer... and yes, research is showing its awesome benefits for those of you with PCOS as well.
Here are a few reasons to make sure you are getting enough Vitamin D if you have PCOS:
Vitamin D Helps Blood Sugar Balance
Numerous studies have shown how Vitamin D can benefit women with PCOS by helping to balance their blood sugar and insulin response. Insulin resistance is very common with women with PCOS and research has shown supplementation can help lower fasting blood sugar and circulating insulin.
Vitamin D can Lower Inflammation
Inflammation and autoimmunity are common causes of PCOS in women. When you are able to lower this inflammation and immunity response you can improve your cycles and symptoms. One study did show that women with lower levels of Vitamin D were unable to stop the inflammatory cascade compared to women that had adequate levels.
A study published in Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology showed that women that were infertile had significant improvement in menstrual regularity after 3 months of supplementing with Vitamin D and Calcium. It has also been shown to increase quality of eggs!
Can Assist in Fertility Treatments
If you go down the route of more conventional fertility treatments, using complimentary help, such as taking Vitamin D has been shown to improve treatment and outcomes. One study of women with PCOS who took Clomid to stimulate ovulation had more mature follicles and were more likely to have a successful conception then those that had lower Vitamin D levels.
What is enough Vitamin D?
You can measure your blood levels by testing 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D). While a "true" deficiency is under 20 ng/mL, however, from my functional nutrition perspective and from working with clients we definitely want to see it over 50 ng/mL and optimally between 60-90 ng/mL. Especially if you are dealing with PCOS or o autoimmune conditions.
Most people are also deficient in Vitamin D, and it has been shown that women with PCOS have a higher rate of deficiency. There are a lot of factors that can affect your Vitamin D status, one reason that people may be deficient is not getting much sunshine, but also if you use sunscreen that will block Vitamin D, as well as being overweight can make it harder to absorb and metabolize, and some people are genetically unable to take all of that goodness from the sun and convert it into an active form very well.
Here are a few tips for getting more Vitamin D:
- Get some outdoor time in the sun without sunscreen and with some exposed skin. Obviously you do not want to get burnt. But even 10 minutes a day in the sun can help substantially with your Vit D levels.
- Eat some Vit. D rich foods. Animal products that are raised healthfully, in pastures and organically will contain more Vit. D then conventionally raised foods. A good example of this is Eggs! Pasture-raised have been shown to have much higher content of vitamins and minerals than conventional eggs. Other foods are liver, beef, pasture-raised dairy and seafood such as salmon, sardines, and herring.
- You can supplement with Vitamin D3. There are many factors that can go into a low Vitamin D levels so it is best to work with a nutritionist and get a clear idea of your case and why you have low levels. If you supplement find a high quality, reputable source.
Want to talk more about this? Join us over in the Natural Fertility Support community over on Facebook. We would love to have you there and you will gain so much more valuable information and tips!
El-Shal, A. S., Shalaby, S. M., Aly, N. M., Rashad, N. M., & Abdelaziz, A. M. (2013). Genetic variation in the vitamin D receptor gene and vitamin D serum levels in Egyptian women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Molecular Biology Reports,40(11), 6063-6073. doi:10.1007/s11033-013-2716-y