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The Best PCOS Supplements



PCOS is a complicated endocrine disorder that affects 1 in 10 women in the UK (1). Driven by higher-than-normal androgens (‘male’ sex hormones) and insulin resistance, PCOS is often behind many challenging symptoms, including weight gain, acne, hair thinning, insulin resistance, and menstrual irregularities

While medication for PCOS has its place, it’s not the only way to manage it. Tweaks to your diet and lifestyle can be just as helpful – and that’s where PCOS supplements come in.
 

What supplements are best for PCOS?


Before we begin, it’s worth mentioning that supplements aren’t designed to substitute healthy eating if you have PCOS. A nutritious PCOS diet – diverse, colourful, and crammed with whole, minimally processed foods – should always be a  priority, as it will help manage your symptoms and give you agency over your body.
 
However, emerging research suggests certain supplements can be tremendously valuable for those with PCOS when included as part of a balanced lifestyle (2). With that in mind, here are the best supplements for PCOS.
 

PCOS Supplements

 

Myo-inositol for PCOS


As far as PCOS supplements go, myo-inositol is the gold standard. A water-soluble vitamin with a similar structure to glucose – sometimes referred to as vitamin B8 – this nutrient plays an essential role in the body’s communication with cells.
 
Perhaps most notably, myo-inositol is believed to reduce insulin resistance, which is often symptomatic of PCOS (3). Insulin helps cells absorb and utilise glucose. However, if you become insulin resistant, your cells are unable to use insulin properly. When this happens, blood sugar increases, which can harm health.
 
Studies suggest supplementing with myo-inositol may improve insulin sensitivity, meaning cells become better at responding to insulin, blood sugar levels can balance, and the body produces less insulin (4).
 
Other findings have reported that myo-inositol may reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome in women with PCOS – linked to obesity, abnormal cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar) – as well as hypoandrogenism (excess androgen hormones) – responsible for many troubling symptoms like acne and hirsutism (abnormal hair growth) (5).
 
Equally encouraging is that myo-inositol administration may improve ovarian function, egg quality, and pregnancy rates in those having fertility treatments, such as in vitro fertilization (6). PCOS can make conceiving slightly harder, so these findings are promising.
                                                                         
The recommended dose of myo-inositol for women with PCOS is 2 grams in the morning and 2 grams in the evening. For convenience, we recommend choosing powdered myo-inositol and mixing it with water.
 
You can read more about supporting PCOS with myo-inositol here.
 

PCOS Vitamins

 

Vitamin D for PCOS


Not only is vitamin D3 fundamental to good health, supporting immunity, bone health, muscles, and inflammatory responses, but it also deserves pride of place in any PCOS arsenal.

Recent scientific literature has found women with PCOS are often deficient in vitamin D3, which may contribute to insulin resistance, hypoandrogenism, metabolic syndrome, poor egg quality, and lower pregnancy success – distinguishing symptoms of the condition (7)

Besides this, vitamin D3 may also affect mood and mental health. Poor emotional health is one of the less discussed implications of living with PCOS, but it remains an important issue. One study found low levels of vitamin D were an independent predictor of depression in women with PCOS (8).

To help manage your PCOS symptoms, you may wish to supplement with a high-strength vitamin D3. Look for a formula that provides between 400iu and 1,000iu. 
 

Vitamin B6 for PCOS


Vitamin B6 is a hard-working, multifaceted nutrient that supports countless areas of health, including many of those affected by PCOS.
 
Vitamin B6, crucially, contributes to normal homocysteine metabolism, which is significant as elevated homocysteine levels may increase the risk for cardiovascular and reproductive symptoms in PCOS (9).
 
Vitamin B6 also supports the regulation of hormonal activity, as well as nervous system and psychological function, making it a useful addition for PCOS.

We recommend adding a high-strength vitamin B6 supplement to cover any nutritional shortfalls. Aim for 50mg per day.
 
You can read more about managing PCOS symptoms with vitamin B6 here.
 

Folic Acid for PCOS


Folic acid is the synthetic version of folate, a water-soluble B vitamin naturally found in food. It plays a vital role in immunity, energy production, cell division, and psychological function – and PCOS management.
 
Research suggests supplemental folic acid may support the metabolic profiles in women with PCOS. One study found that taking 5mg of folic acid – compared to 1mg and the placebo – improved glucose metabolism and cholesterol levels in women with PCOS (10).
 
Another study found the combination of folic acid and myo-inositol supported fertility in women with PCOS by reducing insulin resistance, which is commonly experienced in those with the condition (11).
 
To support your folic acid intake, we recommend supplementing with a high-strength formula that provides 400µg.
 
You can read more about using folic acid during pregnancy with PCOS here.  
 

Zinc for PCOS


Although zinc is best known for its role in immunity, it can also support many aspects of PCOS, especially since those with the condition are often deficient (12).
 
Studies reveal zinc supplementation may positively affect insulin resistance, one of the main biochemical signs of PCOS (13). Some findings even suggest a zinc deficiency may be partly behind the insulin resistance seen in PCOS (14).
 
Acne is another common symptom of PCOS, caused by excess androgen production. Though not specific to PCOS, zinc may help reduce moderate-to-severe acne, making it a valuable addition for women struggling with skin changes triggered by PCOS (15).
 
There’s even some research proposing zinc may improve hair loss and unwanted hair growth (hirsutism) in women with PCOS, which – like acne – also stems from excess androgens. One study found zinc supplementation considerably reduced PCOS-related hirsutism and hair loss in just eight weeks (16).
 
To support your zinc intake – and help manage your PCOS symptoms – we recommend supplementing with 15mg daily. 
 

Omega 3 for PCOS


That omega 3 fatty acids are important for overall health and wellbeing isn’t anything new. Now, research suggests that omega 3 supplementation may also support many areas of PCOS. 
 
Emerging evidence points to omega 3 fatty acids – DHA and EPA – reducing PCOS-related factors, including insulin resistance and androgens (17).
 
Additional research proposes essential fatty acids may improve lipid profiles, ease oxidative stress, and lower inflammatory markers – all of which may reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular disease, a risk factor for PCOS (18).

Most studies investigating the therapeutic effect of omega 3 on PCOS gave participants high-strength formulas. With this in mind, consider choosing a premium-grade, quality fish oil supplement that delivers around 1300mg (DHA + EPA).
 
If you’re vegetarian or vegan, we recommend taking plant-based microalgae, which is naturally rich in DHA.
 

N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) for PCOS


N-acetyl-cysteine, or NAC as it’s more commonly known, derives from the amino acid L-cysteine. It supports many areas of health, including immunity, cardiovascular function, and detoxification.
 
When it comes to PCOS, NAC is thought to have an overwhelmingly positive effect on reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, both of which tend to be higher in women with PCOS (19).
 
Studies also suggest NAC may lower testosterone levels, improve insulin resistance, and support fertility by optimising ovulation and improving cervical mucus quality, making it a great addition for PCOS management (20).

If you’re keen on adding NAC to your diet, we recommend taking 600mg daily.
 
You can learn more about how NAC can support PCOS here.

 

Magnesium for PCOS


Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in the body. And yet many people struggle to get enough of it each day, especially those with PCOS.

Some evidence proposes magnesium supplementation may improve insulin resistance and reduce PCOS-related symptoms like acne, hirsutism, and weight gain (21). 

Magnesium may also support sleep quality, energy production, cardiovascular function, as well as mood and mental health, which is often affected by PCOS (22).

We recommend taking 375mg of magnesium daily to cover any nutritional shortfalls.
 
Discover more about magnesium’s role in PCOS management here.
 

Find our more about PCOS
 

For many women with PCOS, taking supplements is an easy way to support their health and wellbeing. As always, we highly recommend speaking to a healthcare professional before starting a new supplement regime.
 
If you found this exploration into PCOS supplements useful, you can find similar guidance on our dedicated health hub. Alternatively, please get in touch with our team of expert Nutrition Advisors, who are on hand to provide free, confidential advice. 





References:

  1. , Polycystic ovary syndrome. nhs.uk. . Available online: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos/

  2. , Dietary supplements for polycystic ovary syndrome. J Prev Med Hyg. ;63(2 Suppl 3): E206-E213.

  3. , Inositol is an effective and safe treatment in polycystic ovary syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. ;21:10.

  4. , Short-term effects of metformin and myo-inositol in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS): a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Gynecol Endocrinol. ;35(3):198-206.

  5. , Myo-inositol effects in women with PCOS: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Endocr Connect. ;6(8):647-658.

  6. , Impact of myo-inositol treatment in women with polycystic ovary syndrome in assisted reproductive technologies. Reprod Health. ;18:13.

  7. , PCOS Physiopathology and Vitamin D Deficiency: Biological Insights and Perspectives for Treatment. Journal of Clinical Medicine. ;11(15):4509.

  8. , Vitamin D is independently associated with depression in overweight women with and without PCOS. Gynecol Endocrinol. ;31(3):179-82.

  9. , Diastolic dysfunction and increased serum homocysteine concentrations may contribute to increased cardiovascular risk in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome. Fertil Steril. ;76:511–6.

  10. , Metabolic response to folate supplementation in overweight women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Mol Nutr Food Res. ;58(7):1465-73.

  11. , Effects of myo-inositol in women with PCOS: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Gynecological Endocrinology. ;28(7):509-515.

  12. , Zinc status and polycystic ovarian syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology. ;52:216–221.

  13. , Effects of zinc supplementation on markers of insulin resistance and lipid profiles in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes. ;123(4):215-20.

  14. , The effect of nutrient supplementation in the management of polycystic ovary syndrome-associated metabolic dysfunctions: A critical review. J Turk Ger Gynecol Assoc. ;19(4):220-232.

  15. , Zinc therapy in dermatology: a review. Dermatol Res Pract. ;709152.

  16. , Effects of Zinc Supplementation on Endocrine Outcomes in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Biol Trace Elem Res. ;170(2):271-8.

  17. , Dietary and serum n-3 PUFA and polycystic ovary syndrome: a matched case-control study. Br J Nutr. : 1-10.

  18. , The effect of nutrient supplementation. 2018: 220-232.

  19. , Oxidative stress and polycystic ovary syndrome: a brief review. Int J Prev Med. ; 10:86.

  20. , Clinical, endocrine and metabolic effects of metformin vs N-acetyl-cysteine in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. ;159(1):127-31.

    , A comparison between the effects of metformin and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) on some metabolic and endocrine characteristics of women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Gynecol Endocrinol. ;32(4):285-9.

    , A Review on Various Uses of N-Acetyl Cysteine. Cell J. ;19(1):11-17.

  21. , Insulin Resistance and Serum Magnesium Concentrations among Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Current Developments in Nutrition. ;3(11).

  22. , The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress—A Systematic Review. Nutrients. ;9(5):429.



 

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Disclaimer: The information presented by Nature's Best is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications.

 
 
Our Author - Olivia Salter

Olivia

Olivia Salter has always been an avid health nut. After graduating from the University of Bristol, she began working for a nutritional consultancy where she discovered her passion for all things wellness-related. There, she executed much of the company’s content marketing strategy and found her niche in health writing, publishing articles in Women’s Health, Mind Body Green, Thrive and Psychologies.

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