Updated: Nov 30, 2022
Vitamin deficiencies are extremely common amongst women with PCOS. Often times, prescribed PCOS medication have the ability to lower important nutrients and minerals within the body as well.
By Roxi Thiam
Vitamin deficiencies are extremely common amongst women with PCOS. Often times, prescribed PCOS medication have the ability to lower important nutrients and minerals within the body as well. Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants have vital functions. To illustrate, low vitamin D has been repeatedly linked to insulin resistance, heart disease, and depression. In addition, research shows that folate and vitamin B12 aid insulin resistance and can decrease your risk of diabetes.
Tackling the root causes of your specific PCOS type is essential to eliminating your symptoms. Western medicine does a great job of treating symptoms, but I encourage you to seek treatment for your condition from the core.
Common PCOS Medication and Related Vitamin Deficiencies
Many medications commonly prescribed for PCOS can lead to nutrient deficiencies. So, if you’re taking any of the below medications, be sure to test for these deficiencies and work with your healthcare practitioner to determine a plan to get you back to optimal levels.
Oral Contraceptive pills : folate, magnesium, selenium, zinc, vitamin B12, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A
Spironolactone : folate, calcium, potassium, vitamin B1, vitamin C, magnesium, zinc
Additionally, many SSRI antidepressants also deplete folate
Wow. What a list! Now, let’s get to the fun part, my top 10 herbs and supplements for PCOS.
Remember Cysters, if you’re currently taking prescription medication, please consult with your physician before beginning a new treatment routine.
Top 10 Herbs and Supplements
(This list is in no particular order)
Magnesium is a mineral that is largely found within the human body and found naturally in many foods. It plays an essential role in over 600 enzyme reactions that affect muscle and nerve function, metabolism, blood sugar levels and blood pressure. Deficiency in magnesium is common in women with PCOS and those with type 2 diabetes. Additionally, women who take birth control pills who do not include a magnesium supplement, have reduced levels of this nutrient as well. Magnesium supplementation is known to improve insulin resistance, decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, improves inflammation and redresses adrenal hormones.
Foods High in Magnesium:
Seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds)
Nuts (almonds, hazelnuts)
Legumes (peanuts, black beans, soybeans)
Grains (brown rice, oats, sorghum, barley, teff)
Vegetables (spinach, potatoes)
Raw cacao (my favorite source of magnesium!)
67–85% of women with PCOS are deficient in Vitamin D; and your risk increases if you don’t get much sunlight. Vitamin D plays a vital function in reproductive hormone regulation and impacts anti-mullerian hormone (AMH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), and progesterone levels. It’s also important for blood sugar and insulin regulation. Research has shown that vitamin D supplementation improves fertility, lowers testosterone levels, and lowers inflammation (as measured by hs-CRP levels) in women with PCOS (1). Vitamin D
Low levels of vitamin D is a sign of insulin resistance and obesity in women with PCOS.
Foods High in Vitamin D:
Fish (swordfish, salmon, tuna)
Cod liver oil
Zinc is a trace nutrient involved in hundreds of functions and reactions in the body. It is necessary for controlling the menstrual cycle and fertility. Women with PCOS may be lacking in this essential metal. If you are zinc deficient you may notice cravings for salt and sugar foods, a sign of insulin resistance.
Studies have shown that zinc supplementation in women with PCOS improves fertility and reduces the effects of high testosterone, including acne, hirsutism, and hair loss (2, 3). Zinc, in combination with magnesium, has also been shown to decrease inflammation in women with PCOS (4). You should take Omega 3’s when taking zinc supplements to help with absorption.
Foods High in Zinc (5):
Meat (beef, bison, lamb, turkey)
Legumes (black beans, azuki beans)
Seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds)
Vitamin B12 is required for red blood cell formation, DNA synthesis, and nerve function. This vitamin is predominantly found in animal foods, so the risk for deficiency is higher in vegetarians and vegans. Studies have shown that metformin use and oral contraceptives significantly reduce serum B12 levels (6, 7), so daily supplementation is essential. Vitamin B12 deficiency causes infertility, skin conditions, insomnia, and irrational behavior.