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How Can Vitamin B6 Support PCOS Symptoms?

PCOS and Vitamin B6

The emotional and physical implications of PCOS can leave you wanting to tear your hair out - big time. You’re stressed, frustrated and downright fed-up. All you want to do is run away from the pain and distress, but instead, you’re stuck with the uncomfortable symptoms – racking your brain with ways to deal with them. However, while we’re not denying that PCOS can wreak havoc on your body, we want to stress that cultivating a healthy lifestyle can help. In fact, it can help you out immensely. As you can imagine, fine-tuning your diet, exercise regime and self-care rituals are key here. Oh, and there’s supplementation too – we can’t forget that. Indeed, if ever there was a vitamin you couldn’t ‘B’ without as a PCOS sufferer, vitamin B6 might just be it. Let’s discover why.


What is vitamin B6?

Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble nutrient that plays a vital role in numerous biological processes. It supports cognitive development, aids in the function of neurotransmitters, and helps to maintain normal levels of homocysteine – an amino acid in the bloodi. You can find this essential nutrient in a wide variety of foods, with the richest sources including fish, beef, organ meats, potatoes, starchy vegetables and some fruitii.


How can it help PCOS?


Fuel for your mood

Since PCOS is firmly rooted in hormonal imbalance, it’s not surprising that it can affect your mood and lead to feelings of anxiety, irritability and moodiness. Well, news just in: vitamin B6 might be just the ticket to ditching your grouchy alter ego. Vitamin B6 is involved in the production of serotonin (a.k.a. your ‘feel-good’ hormone)iii. A recent trial analysed the effect of taking 80mg vitamin B6 (or pyridoxine as it’s more scientifically known as) over the course of three menstrual cycles. 94 women participated in the randomised study, and all showcased a reduction in hormonal, PMS symptoms by the end of the study, especially where depression and anxiety were concernediv. Additional research supports this conclusion, proposing that vitamin B6 has a harmonising effect on two more vital neurotransmitters – 5-hydroxytryptamine and dopaminev. These neurotransmitters also belong to the so-called ‘happy hormone’ family, which explains why they can have such a positive impact on your mood. In addition to vitamin B6, you can also boost your mood through a number of hormone-happy foods.


Keeps your heart healthy

Most existing research suggests that PCOS possesses all the key conditions for cardiovascular disease to developvi. For starters, there’s a wealth of evidence highlighting a positive link between high insulin levels (which are notoriously common in women with PCOS) and coronary heart diseasevii. However, the good news is that scientists have hypothesised vitamin B6 could reduce this risk by diminishing levels of the amino acid, homocysteine (FYI: high levels of this compound are known to increase the risk of heart disease)viii. A trial conducted by The Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation 2 on a group of 5,500 adults with known cardiovascular disease, found that supplementation of vitamin B6 (50mg/day) for 5 years reduced homocysteine levels by 25%ix.  Another investigation into vitamin B6 corroborated these findings, suggesting that low levels of this nutrient could be a contributing factor to cardiovascular disease, inflammation and oxidative stressx.


Balances blood sugar

If you have PCOS, there’s a chance you have insulin resistance too. This means your body has a sluggish response to insulin, which can lead to a build-up of glucose over time, and potentially trigger type 2 diabetes. To prevent this, it’s absolutely vital to managing your blood sugar levels. One easy way to do this is by changing your diet – filling up on low GI foods and cutting back on sugar. Nevertheless, data now proposes that vitamin B6 may help balance blood sugar too, with evidence pointing to it decreasing insulin concentration and insulin sensitivityxi. Indeed, a study of 13 women in late pregnancy with gestational diabetes showcased a marked decline in their blood glucose levels after receiving 100mg of vitamin B6 each day for 2 weeksxii The findings concluded that low amounts of vitamin B6 can change the metabolic pathways in the body, and therefore skew blood glucose levels. By understanding the connection between PCOS and type 2 diabetes, you can begin to manage your diet and lifestyle to incorporate vitamin B6.


What’s the verdict?

While more research is needed on the role of vitamin B6 in PCOS and hormone imbalance, existing data is still compelling. Much of it proposes that vitamin B6 can tackle many of the problematic implications of PCOS, alleviating fluctuations in mood, the risk of cardiovascular disease, and blood sugar imbalance. Although you can find vitamin B6 in a range of food sources, we’d suggest taking a high-strength, quality supplement to plug any nutritional gaps you might encounter.  50mg per day should be enough to work its magic, and you can find it available on our website. If you have any further questions about vitamin B6 please reach out to our friendly Nutrition Advice team, who would be very happy to help.

Enjoyed reading this article? Please feel free to browse the rest of our hub and discover even more ways to reclaim control over your PCOS. 

 


References:

  1. National Institutes of Health. Available online: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB6-HealthProfessional/

  2. National Institutes of Health. Available online: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB6-HealthProfessional/

  3. . The potential for dietary supplements to reduce premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms. J Am Coll Nutr. 19: 3-12.

  4. , et al. Pyridoxine (vitamin B6) therapy for premenstrual syndrome. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 96: 43-4.

  5. The interactions between vitamin B6 and hormones. Vitam Horm. 36:53-99.

  6. , et al. Administration of B-group vitamins reduces circulating homocysteine in polycystic ovarian syndrome patients treated with metformin: a randomized trial. Human Reproduction. 20 (6): 1521–1528.

  7. . Insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease. J Clin Invest. 106(4): 453–458.

  8. , et al. Combined analyses and extended follow-up of two randomized controlled homocysteine-lowering B-vitamin trials. J Intern Med. 268:367-82.

  9. , et al. Homocysteine-lowering therapy and stroke risk, severity, and disability: additional findings from the HOPE 2 trial. Stroke. 40: 1365-72.

  10. , et al. Association of vitamin B-6 status with inflammation, oxidative stress, and chronic inflammatory conditions: the Boston Puerto Rican Health Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 91(2): 337-42.

  11. , et al. Vitamins and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Endocr Metab Immune Disord Drug Targets. 15(1): 54–63.

  12. , et al. Vitamin B6 treatment of gestational diabetes mellitus: studies of blood glucose and plasma insulin. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 127(6): 599-602.



 

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