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Is Vitamin D the Missing Link for your PCOS?

I recently stumbled across some research about PCOS and Vitamin D. I have been taking Vitamin D for the last two years but this article confirmed what I have been feeling and I really feel that this may be the missing link for many women with PCOS. So, without further ado, here is why you really should be supplementing with Vitamin D to help you manage your Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is often called the sunshine vitamin as our bodies make it when exposed to the sun. It is important for a number of bodily functions, including (1):

  • Immune system, which helps you to fight infection
  • Muscle function
  • Cardiovascular function, for a healthy heart and circulation
  • Respiratory system – for healthy lungs and airways
  • Brain development
  • Anti-cancer effects

You can’t get enough Vitamin D in your diet and you can only get it by exposing your body to sun at midday (without sunblock). You only need about 15 minutes of midday sun per day. But, that’s not always possible, especially if you live in cooler climates or are office bound on a daily basis.

So now we know what it is and why we need it, let’s look at why you, as a woman with PCOS, really need to supplement with Vitamin D.

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Vitamin D and PCOS

The first thing that you need to know is that most of us are deficient in Vitamin D. One study suggests that as many as 67-85% of us, in fact. This is really important because vitamin D deficiency has also been linked with (2):
Insulin resistance

  • Ovulatory and menstrual irregularities
  • Hirsutism
  • Hyperandrogenism
  • Obesity
  • Lower pregnancy success

Ummm, that would pretty much some up PCOS. So, Vitamin D deficiency could make all of your PCOS symptoms much worse! Let’s look at this in a little more detail.

 

Vitamin D and Insulin Resistance

There have been a number of studies looking at the link between Vitamin D deficiency and insulin resistance. Although more research is needed, the studies suggest that a lack of Vitamin D leads to insulin resistance and supplementing with Vitamin D can help to combat this.

Vitamin D and Fertility

Vitamin-D-and-PCOS-fertilityThe research on Vitamin D’s role in fertility is interesting. Vitamin D receptors are found in the placenta, ovary and uterine lining suggesting that Vitamin D plays an important role. The research shows that women with Vitamin D deficiency have do not respond as well to ovarian stimulation with Clomid, have less success with IVF and menstrual irregularities. As blood concentrations of Vitamin D rose, so did pregnancy success rates.

If you are trying to conceive, it may be worthwhile adding Vitamin D to your supplement regime.

Vitamin D and Hyperandrogenism

Hyperandrogenism (or high male hormones like testosterone) is the cause of many of our uncomfortable symptoms like increased hair growth, hair loss and acne. Now, the research is a little unclear on this but it seems that women who suffer from increased hair growth also have low vitamin D levels but supplementing with Vitamin D does not necessailry improve hirsutism. Some studies suggest that it does help with acne, though.

My view on this is that Vitamin D supplementation may help the rest of my symptoms so if it could help with my symptoms of hyperandrogenism, it’s worth a try.

Vitamin D and Mood

Vitamin-D-and-PCOS-fertilityWe all know that living with PCOS is not easy. We often have low self esteem and feel “ugly” about ourselves, made worse by our struggles to conceive. It’s no surprise that the the research suggests we have low self esteem, suffer from emotional stress and have poor body image (if you recognize yourself in this, you are not alone!)

Well, Vitamin D deficiency has been linked with higher incidences of mood disorders like premenstrual syndrome, seasonal affective disorder and depression. Now, no research has been done specifically on how Vitamin D supplementation helps the mood of women with PCOS in particular. But again, I’d day that the supplement will not do any harm and may well help my mood as well.

So, just to sum it up, Vitamin D supplementation is important for women with PCOS because it helps improve fertility, possibly improves mood, might help symptoms of hyperandrogenism and improves insulin resistance. Those are all really good reasons to take Vitamin D. The next question is what kind and how much do we need?

How to take Vitamin D

Well, Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin so should be taken with some fat to aid absorption. You can take it in either capsule form (like this Now Foods Vitamin D3 supplement) or in a drop (like these Liquid Vitamin D Drops). It really depends which one you’d prefer. As I take a couple of other capsules and tablets (like Omega 3 and Folic acid), I prefer the drop as it’s one less tablet to take.

Vitamin D is easily absorbed by the body so you can take it any time of day, with or without meals.

How much do you need?

The Vitamin D council recommends that you need about 5000 IU per day (3).

Summing it Up

Vitamin D is an important supplement for many aspects of PCOS including:

  • Insulin resistance
  • Fertility
  • Hyperandrogenism
  • Mood

You should take 5000 IU at any time of day, with or without food.

I have been taking Vitamin D supplements for at least 2 years and find that it helps with my PCOS. Have you had any experience with the sunshine vitamin? I’d love to hear your story – leave me a comment below!

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Tarryn Poulton

Tarryn Poulton

Tarryn Poulton is a PN1 Certified Nutrition Coach and PCOS expert who has been a leader in the online PCOS space for over 8 years. Tarryn has the support of leading clinicians from around the world who support her scientific approach to understanding and talking about PCOS this includes all medical journals and ongoing research. You can read more about Tarryn and the team here.

46 Responses

46 Responses

  1. I have struggled with pcos symptoms since I was a teen. I am now 37 and have suffered the loss of 3 babies due to miscarriage. A naturopath suggested testing my vitamin d. It was extremely low. I went on supplements and after a year it didn’t budge. I decided to try vitamin d injections and my levels began to rise! It is now within normal range. My hair loss improved, as did my mood and I have even been able to sustain a pregnancy and am now at 39 weeks! I am not saying it is the silver bullet, I also started taking inositol and cut out sugar and dairy. But I do think it is something to look into. You do have to stay on top of it and continue to test to ensure levels rise. It can’t hurt!

  2. Today is my first day taking this Vitamin D and I’m excited to let sunshine in my life. Hahahaha lol. Hope all is well. ❤️ got inspired from all of the comments and from this article itself. Thanks for sharing! 💕

  3. Found out I had a huge Vitamin D deficiency. After being on prescription vitamin D for 2 years, my immune system improved drastically and I felt a lot better. I take 5000IU a day now. I never want to feel that awful again.

  4. Found out I had a huge Vitamin D deficiency. After being on prescription vitamin D for 2 years, my immune system improved drastically and I felt a lot better. I take 5000IU a day now. I never want to feel that awful again.

  5. Just a correction that a lot of women, especially with PCOS have a mthfr genetic mutation which prevents us from absorbing FOLIC ACId, which is synthetic! It is always better, whether you know you have the mutation or not, to take the natural form which is l-Methylfolate! Never folic acid!

    I have the gene mutation and was surprised to learn the majority of women have it (up to 60-70 percent) and yet folic acid is in all of the over the counter prenatals, and still discussed as a crucial vitamin! Folic acid actually harms people with the mutation because the body cannot process it because they are missing the necessary enzyme. That means if you do conceive, your baby won’t be getting it and would likely get neural tube defects/spinabifida/miscarriage as a result.

    All women should avoid folic acid at all costs and use the natural all ready l-methylfolate instead. I wish this was more common knowledge.

    If you are interested in finding out you have mthfr, the bloodwork is expensive, and it’s cheaper to just do 23 & me and put those results through a free online generator that’ll analyze for you.

  6. I have PCOS and only get 1 or 2 periods a year. I was on the pill to manage my symptoms, but 6 months ago, my husband and I decided to try for a baby. I went off the pill and had no period for 6 months. I decided to start taking vitamin D & fish oil. I got my period 2 weeks after starting this regime. I couldn’t believe it. I think vitamin D is crucial for PCOS sufferers. Well, that and diet & exercise.

  7. I have PCOS and struggle to get pregnant. I’ve started some research on Vitamin D and it seems this is exactly what I’m missing. I asked my Dr. about it (he’s 100% NOT the kind of Dr. to suggest any kind of natural medicine, herbal supplement, etc.) and didn’t run any blood work to check my Vit D levels and also said he only recommends what’s currently in my prenatal (which isn’t much). So my question is, if I DO become pregnant, is the 5000iu dose in the link provided above safe for pregnancy? I’ve had 3 pregnancies (two live birth’s, one loss) so I know achieving pregnancy is do-able. I just want to make sure I can take the full 5000iu dose and be safe. And should I take it all throughout my pregnancy?

  8. Hi Tarryn,

    What changes did you notice by taking the Vitamin D supplement? How many mg is that a day please?

    Thank you

  9. D3/ Colecalciferol(Forti-D) is available here only in 800IU capsules. It doesn’t seem right to take 6 capsules of this in a day to complete the 5000IU you recommended/mentioned. I’m a bit confused. Please reply

  10. I was diagnosed with PCOS 20 years ago…recently I
    was told that I needed to take 2000iu 2 times a day, for a total of 4000iu a day….the result which was unintended was my periods becoming normal 28 day cycles, never since the day my periods began have they ever been 28 day cycles. I loved this effect, what I’ve not liked has been the pain, horable, joint, muscle, and bone pain….the Dr is checking me for RA…

    1. I too was diagnosed with PCOs 20 years ago – I refused to accept the diagnosis, was put on a hideous contraceptive pill for 3 months then came off it and fortunately since then I have had my cycle monthly and was given the all clear on the PCOs 7 years ago – a healthy lifestyle, happiness and balanced hormones are key, also not accepting what we are told – you are in charge of your body – I too have been diagnosed with very low vitamin D and calcium recently and have been very rundown, healing now – I think vitamin D is the missing link in the PCOs battle – I felt cheated that bloods weren’t run when I was young and given that diagnosis – don’t ever hate your body ladies (read article) we are all here to live beautiful lives, it’s s horrible condition to live with but one you can beat – I am the living proof – mind over matter always – love to you all!!! xxx

  11. Hi there, I have been diagnosed with pcos for 5 months and have been taking metformin aswell as vitamin D tablets. My gynecologIst suggest I take vitamin D tablets once in a week. So I have been taking it on every Saturday, should I increase the dose? Because if we take more vitamin D we can get stones in our kidneys! What should I do?!!!

    1. Raquel, it depends on the dose you’re taking on Saturdays. Your doctor would be best placed to advise you.

  12. Wonder how long does it take for vitamin d3 help your pcos and get get pregnant? I have pcos for 9 years now. I been taking vitamin d3 for 2 months now and how do I know if it working.

    1. It took me 3 month after trying for 4 years. I took only 2000ui vitamin D but did have it in my prenatals as well. I also took metformin, inositol and choline and coconut oil as vitamin D bungs you up a little.

    2. The only thing that helped me to get pregnant was taking metformin 1500 MG a day. My insulin leeks did not qualify me to take this meducation but my ob/gyn knew that some patients with pcos can benefit from. Metformin even if they don’t clinically qualify. I worked out hard everyday for 4 months and eliminated sugar. I only lost 2 lbs. Then I found an ob/gyn who was willing to try me on Metformin. I lost weight quickly and was pregnant after one month on the drug. Stayed on Metformin during first trimester.

  13. Hi Tarryn,

    Do we have to take Calcium with the Vitamin D? The last time I say the OBGYN she gave me both to take together. It be nice to not have to take an additional supplement. 🙂

    Love,
    Lili

    1. Recently diagnosed with low calcium and Vit D – from what I can tell the two go hand in hand. I am taking all the calcium I can. Milk, cheese. Calcium normalised now. With vitamin D I need 1000ius apparently – I tried to get enough through food – to get that amount you would have to eat a mountain of tuna. So take supplements and get out in the sun, if you can. Healthy lifestyle all the way, fun, laughter – enjoy your life and your body. I was given the all clear on PCOs 7 years ago – this was due to a horrid contraceptive pill for 3 months and in the years following a healthy lifestyle and total rejection of the diagnosis- mind over matter – eat well and think well and healthy thoughts – it’s your body and you can heal it. Love ?

  14. One thing about Vitamin D, those of use with PCOS from N ethnic background lack Vitamin D more so as we have a higher increase in melanin in the skin which in effect makes it a bit difficult for us to obtain Vitamin D. I learned this when my doctor prescribe me vitamin D injections a few years back.
    One thing I can suggest also is if you take a supplement make sure it’s free from asulfame or aspatame. The artificial sweeteners simply because these products are carcinogenic and taking them over a long period of time can make you even worse then want you start.

  15. I’d also advise people to have a really good read of Marilyn Glenville’s books. She has written a few on pcos and menopause but I found out when I was 35 that a change in diet and taking certain supplements ment having regular periods after 15 years of irregular.
    It’s as simple as eating complex carbs, all amoot every 3 hours. Thereby regulating your blood sugar and insulin and then hormones.
    Supplements like Vit C. Flax oil.
    Please read. It’s sort of standard I should think in the pcos world. I found out 15 years ago.

    Only I’ve only just heard of the Vit D one.

    Please read. You can manage such a lot on your own them also use a good support group.
    Best wishes

  16. Hello. I’m now 50 and have just been diagnosed with extreme Vit D deficiency. I’ve struggled with severe tiredness, low mood and catch every bug going. This makes life very difficult as far as work goes as I end up knocked off my feet after I’m on my third bug in a row.
    I e been try to read about Vit D deficiency over the past couple of weeks. I feel fortunate at long last to be diagnosed with it and to be treated with a high dose of Vit D.

    What I am most surprised about is that I have pcos. I’ve struggled to get pregnant, I’ve taken clonus, tamoxifen and then two rounds of ivf. One pregnancy lose after an ivf and one ectopic after getting pregnant out of the blue just before I was 42.

    I am very fortunate to have got through the ‘baby business’ as I call it, but not until two bouts of depression in my forties.

    Reaching 50 I was so happy to say that part of life was well and truly over and was blessed to be with lovely husband and many blessings.

    Only now I’m low because of bugs and anxiety. But I am hoping and praying that Vit D will really help me get on my feet. I am amazed at all the different roles it has and that there is such a lot of ongoing research into it. Totally amazed at its link to pcos.

    I just hope that many young women with pcos know about this and can make the adjustments in their diet to give them the best possible chance of having a baby of their own. I’m sure you want to shout it from the roof tops as well.
    Best wishes

  17. I’m 18 and have pcos. I am on the pill since I don’t have regular periods and even with the pill they are not always on time. I have been on a few different pills. On top of that I always had pretty bad acne and I’m overweight! It’s very hard for me to lose weight and the only sucsess I had was on a very low carb diet but I was unable to stay on it. I ended up gaining all 30 + pounds back! To make my situation worse I also was diagnosed with hidrantis supertiva.any advice from anyone,I don’t know how to deal with everything

    1. Read Maryline grenvilles book on pcos. It does work. It did when I was 35 and I’m 50 now and have had regular periods since. You young enough to make good changes. Best wishes.

  18. Hi,
    I’m 16 years old and have PCOS. I have been taking Vitamin D for about 2 months but it is only 1000IU. Is this enough??
    Thanks xx

  19. Hi..
    I am following some PCOs diet but i am not sure weather i have PCOS or not.some doctors said there is no PCOS but some have opposite opininon.I am so much confused.But my periods was normal from 2years but again disturbed 3months ago.I am sooo much worried.I dont have baby ..Could you help me.

  20. i think i read if one day you get enought sun exposure we shouldnt take the vitamin D complement. im worry about overdose of vitamin D is toxic right? What about living in diferent countries, its not same the sun you get in spain than in the uk

    1. Hi Maria,

      It is toxic but only at very high doses. Also, you need to get the 15 minutes at midday as this is when you are exposed to UV B rays which are needed to make Vitamin D

      1. Hi tarryn I’m 34 and I’ve had pcos since I was 17 and I was getting irregular periods up until last year but then a month ago my periods stopped again. I am taking a few vitamins including vitamin d3. I’m just wondering if you could tell me how long it will take to get a regular period again so my husband and I could start a family
        Michelle

      2. I had a vitamin d test done and my levels were in the normal range. Should I still take a supplement? I have pcos and take metformin and insitol

  21. Your welcome. It can be a lot of information to take in but just take it one step at a time and hopefully you’ll be able to kick this PCOS in the butt 😉 lol

    All the best
    Faiza

  22. Just wanted to say another great article!! I was tested for vitamin D and some the docs have given me a 20 000iu tablet to take once a week. I am confused now as the recommended is 5000iu a day? Should I question them about this?

    Thanks
    Fk

    1. Hi Faiza,

      It all depends on your current levels of Vitamin D. Why not ask them about the dose and see what they say?

      Tarryn

    2. Hello I’m 31 years old and I am TTC I was just recently tested for vitamin D deficiency because I have irregular periods as well as pcos and found that my vitamin D level was at a 16 the recommended levels is 30 or higher so my doctor wrote me a prescription for a vitamin D pill that is 50,000 IU taken once a week I asked my sister about the dosage because she is a nurse and she said it’s so high because my level is so low so I hope this helps.

  23. Dear tarryn

    I am 17 years old and have PCOS ! I dnt want to use ‘the pill’ it makes me feel even worst about myself! I dnt know what to do ? Im hopeless as my hear falls out and I have immense stomach pains and back pains. I also havent had my period since january!

    Can u pls help me!
    Would be great to hear fom you thank you !

    Your webaite have been a great help! Thank u

    Love
    Alicia

    1. Hey Hun I just turned 22 and Have pcos. Since January I stopped takin the pill and instead did the following things:
      Ate a low glycemic index/load diet
      Ate more low glycemic fruits and veg
      Ate more foods which lower inflammation (seeds,flax seed,cinnamon,garlic,sweet potatoes etc)
      Drank more water
      Exercised more
      Took the Jarrow formula inositol powder 1teaspoon twice a day
      One Folic acid capsule a day
      One magnesuum/calcium tablet a day
      Got tested for vitamin d and now take vitamin d supplement a day

      These things have helped GREATLY in helping me lose weight and control te symptoms of my PCOS. YOu are very young to be dealing with all this. Please read through the information on this site a it explains why I made these changes and why they helped my PCOS. Also if ur struggling coming to terms with the diet ask to be referred to a dietician and they may be able to answer more of your questions about the Low Glycamiec Diet.

      Hope that helps Hun 🙂
      Good luck 🙂
      Faiza x

      1. Thank you soo much for the help and advice Faiza. I really appreciate it and will definity make use of it.

        Thank you!
        Good Luck to you to.

        Alicia x

        1. Your welcome it can be a lot of information to take in. But take it one step at a time Hun and you’ll be able to kick this PCOS in the butt 😉 lol

          All the best
          Faiza

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