7 Best supplements for managing PCOS symptoms

PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) affects millions of women worldwide, and finding ways to manage its symptoms can be daunting.

It can cause various health problems and significantly impact the quality of life. Many women go to great lengths – from lifestyle changes to dietary supplements, all in the name of managing PCOS symptoms [1]. 

In this article, we will explore seven helpful supplements for PCOS and how they can improve your health.

How can I understand that I have PCOS?

A hormonal condition, PCOS affects women who are of childbearing age. High levels of androgens (male hormones), insulin resistance, and cystic ovaries are its defining characteristics [2].

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Symptoms of PCOS

Women suffering from PCOS may experience various symptoms, including:

  • Irregular menstrual cycles: One of the hallmark signs of PCOS is irregular or absent menstrual periods. This occurs due to hormonal imbalances, particularly elevated levels of androgens (male hormones) and insulin resistance.
  • Ovulation difficulties: Many individuals with PCOS experience difficulties with ovulation, which can lead to infertility or difficulty conceiving.
  • Hirsutism: Excessive hair growth in areas where males typically grow hair, such as the face, chest, and back, is a common symptom of PCOS. This is also linked to high androgen levels.
  • Acne and oily skin: Hormonal imbalances in PCOS can contribute to acne and excessively oily skin.
  • Hair loss: Thinning hair or hair loss on the scalp, known as androgenic alopecia, can occur in individuals with PCOS.
  • Weight gain: Many individuals with PCOS struggle with weight gain or obesity, often due to insulin resistance and difficulties in regulating blood sugar.
  • Skin changes: Darkening of the skin in areas such as the neck, groin, and underarms, known as acanthosis nigricans, is another potential symptom of PCOS.
symptoms of pcos

Impact of hormonal imbalances on PCOS

PCOS is primarily driven by hormonal imbalances, particularly involving insulin, androgens (such as testosterone), and estrogen.

These imbalances can disrupt the normal functioning of the ovaries and lead to the aforementioned symptoms:

  • Insulin resistance: Elevated insulin levels, often seen in PCOS, can cause the body’s cells to become less responsive to insulin. This can lead to increased insulin production, weight gain, and difficulties in regulating blood sugar levels.
  • Androgen excess: High levels of androgens can lead to the characteristic symptoms of hirsutism, acne, and hair loss. Androgens also interfere with regular ovulation.
  • Estrogen imbalance: PCOS can disrupt the balance of estrogen in the body, further contributing to irregular menstrual cycles and other symptoms.

What causes PCOS?

The exact cause of this disorder is unknown, but it is believed to be caused by various factors, including genetics, environment, and lifestyle.

Insulin resistance is a major contributing factor, leading to increased production of androgens and other hormonal imbalances.

What are the benefits of PCOS supplements?

For women with this condition, supplements are a helpful addition to a healthy diet and lifestyle. They can help improve insulin resistance, balance hormones, reduce inflammation, and support overall health [3].

However, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional before starting any supplement regimen. Let’s look closely at some supplements that can make a huge difference.

What supplements are good for PCOS?

1. Inositol

This naturally occurring carbohydrate found in foods like fruits, beans, and nuts plays a vital role in insulin regulation and cellular communication.

Research suggests that inositol supplementation may help improve insulin resistance, hormonal balance, and fertility in women with PCOS [4].

Benefits of inositol

  • Improve insulin sensitivity
  • Reduce testosterone levels
  • Support healthy ovarian function

The recommended dosage of inositol for PCOS ranges from 2 to 4 grams daily, taken in divided doses. It is safe with minimal side effects, although some may experience gastrointestinal discomfort.

Though inositol alone may not work wonders, it’s an excellent add-on supplement to your daily routine to manage the symptoms of this frustrating disorder.

2. Vitamin D

A deficiency in vitamin D is common in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. This essential fat-soluble vitamin supports various bodily functions, including regulating hormones, supporting immune function and bone health, and improving insulin sensitivity [5].

Benefits of Vitamin D

  • Improve insulin sensitivity
  • Regulate hormone levels
  • Support mood and mental health

Supplementation and dosage

The best source of Vitamin D is exposure to the sun. Just 15 minutes of sun exposure daily can significantly boost your Vitamin D levels.

But if you are time-deficient, the recommended daily vitamin D dosage for PCOS varies depending on individual needs, but a typical range is 1,000 to 4,000 IU daily.

Consult with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate dosage for you. Additionally, be careful not to exceed the recommended daily limit, as excessive vitamin D intake can lead to toxicity.

3. Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats in foods like fish, nuts, and seeds. They can help reduce inflammation, improve insulin sensitivity, enhance cardiovascular health, and promote a healthy hormonal balance for women with PCOS [6].

Benefits of omega-3 fatty acids

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Improve insulin sensitivity
  • Support mood and mental health

Dosage and precautions

The recommended daily dosage of omega-3 fatty acids for women with polycystic ovary syndrome is 1 to 2 grams. It’s essential to choose high-quality supplements to avoid potential contaminants.

Moreover, if you don’t consume fish, you can opt for omega-3 supplements derived from algae or krill oil. Consult with a healthcare professional before starting any supplement.

Incorporating Omega-3s into your diet can be easy and delicious and benefit women with PCOS.

4. Magnesium

Magnesium is an essential mineral involved in various bodily functions, including blood sugar regulation, energy and hormone production, and muscle function.

Women with PCOS often have low magnesium levels, which can aggravate insulin resistance and hormonal imbalances [7].

Benefits of magnesium

  • Improve insulin sensitivity
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Support mood and mental health

Dosage and Forms

A daily dosage of 200 to 400 mg of magnesium is recommended for PCOS. Magnesium supplements come in various forms, such as magnesium citrate, glycinate, and oxide.

These supplements can interact with certain medications, so consult a healthcare professional before starting any supplement.

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5. Zinc

Zinc is an essential trace element in hormone production, wound healing, immune function, and insulin regulation. Research suggests that women with PCOS may have lower zinc levels, contributing to hormonal imbalances, inflammation, and insulin resistance [8].

Benefits of zinc

  • Improve insulin sensitivity
  • Support hormone regulation
  • Promote immune health

Zinc supplementation and dosage

The recommended daily dosage of zinc for women with PCOS is 30 to 45 mg. Excessive zinc intake can lead to toxicity and interfere with the absorption of other minerals, so it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any supplement.

6. Chromium

This essential trace mineral enhances insulin function, potentially benefiting women with PCOS. Chromium may help reduce blood sugar levels and balance hormones by improving insulin sensitivity [9].

chromium
Photograph: pernilla11/Envato

Benefits of chromium

  • Improve insulin sensitivity
  • Support healthy blood sugar levels
  • Promote weight management

Chromium can be found naturally in many foods, like whole grains, broccoli, and potatoes. However, in some cases, supplementation may be necessary to reach optimal levels.

The recommended daily dosage of chromium for PCOS is 200 to 1,000 mcg. Chromium supplements are considered safe and can interact with certain medications, however, high doses may cause adverse effects in some women, so consult a healthcare professional before taking this supplement.

Overall, while it may not be the first supplement that comes to mind for PCOS treatment, chromium can undoubtedly be a valuable addition to a well-rounded regimen. 

7. N-Acetylcysteine (NAC)

This powerful antioxidant helps combat inflammation and oxidative stress associated with polycystic ovary syndrome. It may also improve insulin resistance, hormone balance, and fertility [10].

Benefits of NAC

  • Improve insulin sensitivity
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Support liver health

Suggested dosage and precautions

The recommended NAC dosage for women with PCOS is 1,200 to 1,800 mg daily. NAC is generally safe but may cause gastrointestinal side effects in some individuals. Consult a healthcare professional before starting NAC supplementation.

Closing thoughts

Supplements are a valuable addition to a healthy diet and lifestyle for women with PCOS. By improving insulin sensitivity, reducing inflammation, and balancing hormones, these supplements can help manage PCOS symptoms and improve overall health. 

Remember that a combination of supplements, lifestyle changes, and medical treatment can provide the best results in managing PCOS symptoms.

Always consult a healthcare professional before starting any supplement regimen to ensure safety and efficacy. 

FAQs

Can supplements cure PCOS?

Supplements cannot cure PCOS, as it is a complex and chronic condition. However, they can help manage and alleviate symptoms, making it easier to lead a healthier and more comfortable life.

Which supplements are commonly recommended for PCOS management?

Commonly recommended supplements for PCOS include inositol, omega-3 fatty acids, vitex (chasteberry), N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC), chromium, magnesium, and zinc. These supplements can help regulate insulin, balance hormones, and reduce inflammation.

Can I take multiple supplements at the same time for PCOS management?

Combining supplements for PCOS management is common, but it’s essential to do so under the guidance of a healthcare provider. They can help determine the right combination and dosages based on your specific needs.

Are there any side effects or interactions to be aware of when taking PCOS supplements?

Some supplements may have side effects or interact with medications. It’s crucial to discuss your supplement regimen with a healthcare provider to avoid potential complications and monitor for any adverse effects.

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[1]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9710389/
[2]https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/natural-treatment-pcos
[3]https://www.cnyfertility.com/pcos-supplements/
[4]https://drkathleenmahannah.com/blog/the-best-supplements-for-pcos
[5]https://lewis.gsu.edu/2021/12/09/pcos-daily-dose-of-vitamin-d/
[6]https://www.allarahealth.com/best-pcos-supplements-for-naturally-treating-pcos
[7]https://www.pcosnutrition.com/magnesium-benefits/
[8]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7468694/
[9]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28595797/
[10]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4306416/

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The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.