June 1, 2018

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a condition associated with irregular menstrual periods, infertility, obesity, diabetes, excess hair growth, acne, and other hormonal difficulties. Past research has looked at the effect of combining lifestyle changes with metformin (a pharmaceutical drug designed to help with insulin resistance) in those with PCOS. It was found that lifestyle modifications had a positive impact, helping to improve weight loss, body mass index (BMI), and menstruation.

According to a new study just published in Gynecological Endocrinology, researchers showed the effects of vitamin D supplementation on insulin resistance, body fat, and adiponectin (a protein involved in blood sugar regulation) in vitamin D deficient women with PCOS.

Pharmaceutical drugs provide some improvements with PCOS but they do not correct many of the underlying factors and often have side effects that may not be tolerated by patients. Also, many patients with PCOS are overweight and have dietary habits that exacerbate the condition.

In this randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial, 36 women with PCOS ages from 20 to 38 years with plasma lower vitamin D levels were randomized into two groups. Individuals received 50,000 IU of oral vitamin D3 once a week or placebo for 8 weeks. Visceral fat tissue, insulin resistance, and circulating adiponectin were compared at baseline and at the end of the 8 week period.

As a result, the individuals in the vitamin D group had significantly decreased fasting plasma glucose levels, increased adiponectin, and increased blood serum vitamin D levels, among other positive effects.

Other Nutrients to Consider

Studies have also shown that an inositol deficiency is common in women with PCOS, as there appears to be a reduced ability for them to process, metabolize, and effectively use inositol from foods. As a result, the nutritional requirements of those with PCOS may not be met by a simple change in the diet and that inositol should be viewed as a conditionally essential nutrient in these women.

Essential fatty acids should also be considered. Fish oils help to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation, and most individuals with insulin resistance are deficient in EFAs.

Source: Seyyed Abootorabi, Ayremlou P, et al. The effect of vitamin D supplementation on insulin resistance, visceral fat and adiponectin in vitamin D deficient women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2018 Jun;34(6):489-494. doi: 10.1080/09513590.2017.

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