Are we becoming reliant on taking supplements? Are we becoming reluctant to make long-term dietary changes?
Whilst we know that lifestyle changes are the first port of call when it comes to PCOS, I am constantly getting asked about supplementation!
However, we do have scientific research reporting that supplementation can also play a role in the management of PCOS.
Remember, supplements aren’t your saving grace, just the icing on a cake, built on a solid foundation of good nutrition, regular movement, adequate sleep and managing your stress well.
This blog will feature a concise and scientific guide to a variety of well-known supplements for PCOS.
So, if you’re one of my PCOS ladies, and are keen for some evidence-based information – keep reading!
Disclaimer: Always speak to your medical and health care professional about any supplements before starting to ensure they are right for you and your body.
Can supplementation help?
If you have read my previous blogs mentioned, you will know that PCOS is a hormonal disorder, which may present as a combination of various symptoms.
Due to hormone irregularities, women with PCOS may have raised insulin levels, irregular menstruation and ovulation, and trouble conceiving. Some women may have all symptoms, some are lucky enough to have few, or none!
While dietary and lifestyle management is recommended (under the guidance of a health professional), supplementation during PCOS may also assist in hormone regulation and in insulin resistance.
There are LOADS of different supplements on our supermarket and pharmacy shelves today, and equally as much information on the internet telling us what to take and what not to take – it’s all TOO CONFUSING!
So, as always, here are a few supplements that have scientific research behind them.
Four Popular PCOS Supplements
Inositol can help to improve insulin resistance in women with PCOS (Bizzarri., 2014).
I recently wrote a whole blog post on Inositol for PCOS, so for more information, have a read of that one!
If anyone remembers my research Wednesday post on cinnamon a while back, you will know that has been found to be useful in PCOS! A pilot study has shown that cinnamon can help to reduce insulin levels in women with PCOS (Wang et al., 2007).
Since then, a larger and more recent study found that cinnamon can also improve the irregularities associated with the menstrual in PCOS (Kort & Lobo., 2014). With that in mind, load up on cinnamon! I like to put it in my smoothies, on oats, with banana and peanut butter, and in my baking
Zinc is an element that I have spoken about in regards to boosting fertility in both males and females and in pregnancy. This amazing nutrient comes up again in regards to PCOS.
Whilst we can get zinc from our diet, think red meat, beans and seafood, 50mg/day supplementation has been shown to be effective in the larger amount of hair growth, or loss of hair associated with PCOS (Jamillan et al., 2016).
Chromium is an important element in regulating our glucose and insulin levels. Additionally, taking chromium supplements can help to improve our BMI (body mass index). Our BMI is a measurement that assesses whether we are a healthy weight for our size. More research is needed in this area, however chromium supplementation has seen to be beneficial in regulating insulin and free testosterone and improving BMI in women with PCOS (Fazelian et al., 2017).
These are only a FEW of the supplements that have been proposed to help with PCOS. Perhaps I will have to write a part 2, drop me a quick message via social media @the_dietologist on Instagram if you’d like to see that!
Healthline has a great article, looking at different dietary patterns and supplements. Keep in mind if reading this article, we don’t “treat” PCOS, instead, we can manage the symptoms!
Are supplements necessary?
If you are okay with taking supplements, and you feel they are working for you, then sure, go ahead, and experiment alongside dietary and lifestyle changes after speaking to your health care team.
If you’re not too keen on supplementing, that’s fine too they are not essential, in fact we can instead focus on modifying the diet to be optimal for all these nutrients for optimal health and management of PCOS.
Bottom line – speak to your healthcare professional before starting any form of supplementation, to ensure it is right for you and will fit in easily with your usual regime!
Would you like to check in with a Women’s Health Dietitian, who will work with you to develop a plan to help manage your PCOS? Book in for a FREE 15 minute discovery call with me.
This blog was co-written by Kaylee Slater, graduate Dietitian from the University of Newcastle – Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics (Hons I). You can find Kaylee on Instagram and connect with her on LinkedIn.