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How Can Vitamin B6 Support PCOS Symptoms?

PCOS and Vitamin B6

Receiving a diagnosis of PCOS can be overwhelming. The emotional and physical implications of this chronic condition are real and far-reaching. And when it comes to managing PCOS, it can be hard to know whom or what to trust. With so much conflicting information available on the Internet, from medical professionals, and even from well-intentioned loved ones, distilling the truth from the hype only adds to the burden. 

That said, there’s one thing most people can agree on: optimising your diet can support the reduction of symptoms of PCOS. Beyond eating more colourful whole foods, supplementation can be another extremely useful weapon in your arsenal. In particular, taking vitamin B6 is purported to improve countless areas of PCOS, including mood regulation, PMS, heart health, and blood sugar balance. 


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 the function of neurotransmitters, and helps to maintain normal levels of homocysteine – an amino acid in the bloodi. You can find vitamin B6 in many foods, with the richest sources including fish, beef, organ meats, potatoes, starchy vegetables and some fruitii.


How can it help PCOS?


Mood regulation

Since PCOS is characterized by hormonal imbalance, it’s not surprising this condition can affect mood and lead to feelings of anxiety, irritability and moodiness. Fortunately, this is one area vitamin B6 may help. Crucially, this nutrient is involved in the production of serotonin, which is often dubbed your ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitterii

In one randomised-control trial, a group of women with PCOS were given 80mg vitamin B6 and instructed to take it over the course of three menstrual cyclesiv. By the end of the investigation, researchers found a significant reduction in participants’ mood imbalances, anxiety, and depression. 

Further research substantiates this claim, suggesting vitamin B6 has a harmonising effect on two more important neurotransmitters – 5-hydroxytryptamine and dopamine.v Like serotonin, these neurotransmitters are known as the ‘happy hormones’, flooding the brain with feelings of joy, pleasure and wellbeing and, therefore, counteracting stress and anxiety.

Beyond adding a vitamin B6 supplement to your diet, you can also improve your mood by eating more of these hormone-happy foods.


Improves PMS

Aside from general mood regulation, vitamin B6 may also offer some relief from premenstrual syndrome (PMS). For women with PCOS, PMS can manifest more acutely. Since PCOS is identified by excess androgens, this may exacerbate standard PMS symptoms, leading to more severe mood swings.

A leading study published in the British Medical Journal found taking 50mg of vitamin B6 once or twice daily may ease PMS symptoms and improve low mood, which is often characteristic of PMSvii.

In addition to this, Iranian researchers discovered taking vitamin B6 could mitigate the symptoms of PMS in women, including anxiety, low mood and water retentionviii. According to experts, this is because vitamin B6 plays a critically important role in the production of neurotransmitters, such as mood-regulating serotoninix.


Supports cardiovascular health

Most existing research suggests PCOS provides the necessary conditions for the development of cardiovascular disease.vi Notably, PCOS is widely touted for increasing insulin levels, which may lead to coronary heart diseasex.  The good news, however, is vitamin B6 has demonstrated promise at reducing this risk. 

Empirical data suggests vitamin B6 may lower levels of the amino acid, homocysteine, which is known to increase the possibility of heart diseasexi. A trial conducted by The Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation 2 on a group of 5,500 cardiac patients found that supplementation of vitamin B6 (50mg/day) for 5 years reduced homocysteine levels by a remarkable 25 per centxii
 
Another investigation into vitamin B6 corroborated these findings, proposing that low levels may be a contributing factor to cardiovascular disease, inflammation and oxidative stressxiii.


Balances blood sugar

It’s worth mentioning that PCOS increases the risk of 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 may result in type 2 diabetes. To prevent this, it’s imperative to successfully manage your blood sugar levels. Besides modifying your diet – eating foods with a low glycaemic index and cutting back on sugar – evidence now suggests vitamin B6 may also help balance blood sugarxi

Empirical data surmises that vitamin B6 may decrease insulin concentration and insulin sensitivity. In a study of pregnant women with gestational diabetes, researchers found a significant decline in blood glucose levels after receiving 100mg of vitamin B6 each day for 2 weeksxiv. The findings concluded that low amounts of vitamin B6 may change the metabolic pathways in the body, and, therefore, risk disrupting blood glucose levels. 

By understanding the connection between PCOS and type 2 diabetes, you can begin to manage your diet and lifestyle to support the reduction of symptoms. 

Although you can find vitamin B6 in a wide range of food sources, we suggest taking a high-strength, quality supplement to plug any nutritional gaps you might encounter.  Aim for 50mg per day to improve your PCOS symptoms. 

If you have any further questions about vitamin B6, please reach out to our friendly Nutrition Advice team. Enjoyed reading this article? Please feel free to browse the rest of our hub and discover even more ways to manage 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. , et al. Efficacy of vitamin B-6 in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome: systematic review. BMJ. 318(7195), 1375-1381.

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

  9. Vitamin B6: Sources & Benefits. Live Science. Avaliable Online: https://www.livescience.com/51920-vitamin-b6.html.

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

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

  12. , 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.

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

  14. , 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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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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