Vitamin D: More Than Just A Vitamin

3 Reasons To Take Vitamin D If You Have PCOS

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Interesting fact: Vitamin D isn’t just a vitamin but also a hormone. This means that cells in the body have vitamin D receptors on them. Not having sufficient amounts of vitamin D can affect most systems in the body. A deficiency of vitamin D not only causes poor bone mineralization but also has been implicated in numerous chronic diseases, including diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, cancer, and hypertension.

Most people in the United States are deficient in Vitamin D. Reasons for the deficiency include living in northern climates that don’t get strong sun rays in winter months, being overweight as vitamin D is fat-soluble and can be stored in fat tissue making it inactive, or using sunscreen. Low vitamin D status is highly prevalent among the PCOS population and is linked to many metabolic complications associated with the disease.

As vitamin D’s role in the human body is being studied more, we know more than ever how crucial this vitamin is for women with PCOS. Here are 3 reasons to take vitamin D if you have PCOS.

Improves Fertility

Vitamin D has been shown to play a role in egg quality, development, and overall fertility. A study published in the Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology showed that infertile PCOS women had improvements in menstrual regularity after 3 months of supplementation with 1000 milligrams of calcium and 400 international units (IU) per day of vitamin D.

Vitamin D status has been shown to improve fertility and pregnancy rates during assisted reproduction therapy. In a study published in the European Journal of Endocrinology, infertile women with PCOS who underwent Clomid stimulation had more mature follicles and were more likely to get pregnant when they had had higher vitamin D levels.

Conversely, those who were deficient in vitamin D had less mature follicles and lower pregnancy rates.

Improves Metabolic Markers

Studies show an inverse relationship between vitamin D and metabolic risk factors such as insulin resistance, cholesterol, triglycerides, testosterone, and weight. In a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, overweight women with PCOS who were vitamin D deficient and took vitamin D supplementation for eight weeks saw improvements in insulin, triglycerides, and cholesterol levels. Pal and colleagues found that supplementing with vitamin D and calcium for 3 months significantly reduced testosterone and blood pressure in women with PCOS.

Better Mood

Women with PCOS have been shown to suffer more from depression than those without the condition. Moran and colleagues found that vitamin D deficiency was a significant independent predictor of depression in both women with and without PCOS.

How Much Vitamin D Is Needed?

The optimal amount of vitamin D for women with PCOS is unknown. The daily recommended intake for vitamin D is 600 IU each day, but this may not be sufficient for women with PCOS.

Sources of Vitamin D

Few foods contain a significant amount of vitamin D other than milk fortified with vitamin D, eggs, cereals with vitamin D added, and fatty fish. While skin exposure to the sun provides as much as 80% to 90% of the body’s vitamin D, production is limited with sunscreen use and geographic location.

Detecting Vitamin D Levels

Blood levels of vitamin D can be measured by 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D). Vitamin D deficiency is defined as 25(OH)D levels below 20 ng/mL. The Endocrine Practice Committee has suggested a daily vitamin D intake of 1,500 to 2,000 IU to maintain blood levels consistently above the optimal value of 30 ng/mL. 

Sources

Rashidi B, Haghollahi F, Shariat M & Zayerii F. The effects of calcium–vitamin D and metformin on polycystic ovary syndrome: a pilot study. Taiwanese Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2009;48:142–147.

Ott J, Wattar L, Kurz C, et al. Parameters for calcium metabolism in women with polycystic ovary syndrome who undergo clomiphene citrate stimulation: a prospective cohort study. European J Endocrinol. 2012;166(5):897-902.

Asemi Z, Foroozanfard F, Hashemi T, Bahmani F, Jamilian M, Esmaillzadeh A. Calcium plus vitamin D supplementation affects glucose metabolism and lipid concentrations in overweight and obese vitamin D deficient women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Clin Nutr. 2014;14:S0261-5614.

Pal L, Berry A, Coraluzzi L, Kustan E, Danton C, Shaw J, Taylor H.Therapeutic implications of vitamin D and calcium in overweight women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2012;28(12):965-8.

Moran LJ, Teede HJ, Vincent AJ. Vitamin D is independently associated with depression in overweight women with and without PCOS. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2014;4:1-4.

Holick MF, Binkley NC, Bischoff-Ferrari HA, et al. Evaluation, treatment, and prevention of vitamin D deficiency: an Endocrine Society clinical practice guideline. J  Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011;96(7):1911-1930.

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