PCOS: Top 3 Supplements
Posted by Christina Pistotnik
I typically get asked “what more can I do if I have PCOS?”
Supplementation along with regular acupuncture treatments is one way that you can positively affect your PCOS diagnosis.
With the correct supplement regimen you can impact your menstrual cycle and increase ovulation by treating insulin resistance.
What does insulin resistance have to do with ovulation, you might ask? A major component that contributes to anovulation in people with PCOS, is insulin resistance. This is when muscle, fat, and liver cells do not respond efficiently to insulin, making it more difficult for the cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream.
This in turn leads to anovulation because higher blood glucose levels cause the ovaries to produce too much testosterone, which interferes with the development of the follicles and prevents normal ovulation. It might go without saying but irregular ovulation is a key factor that can contribute to difficulty in getting pregnant.
Top 3 supplements to help reduce insulin resistance and improve ovulation:
Myo-Inositol is a part of the B complex vitamin group. It is involved in the metabolism, transport and breakdown of glucose and its conversion to glycogen.
It’s a key factor involved in insulin signalling and it acts as an intracellular secondary messenger, regulating a number of hormones such as thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) (1).
People with PCOS typically have low levels of myo-inositol so supplementation can help improve insulin sensitivity, hormone regulation and improve menstrual/ovulation cycles.
In a double blind clinical trial, people with PCOS received myo-inositol or a placebo. Results showed that myo-inositol increased insulin sensitivity, improved glucose tolerance and had a positive effect on ovulation. The myo-inositol group had a 70% ovulation rate, compared to a 21% ovulation rate in the placebo group. Also, the Myo-inositol group had a 66% reduction of serum total testosterone (2).
2. N-acetylcysteine (NAC)
NAC is an amino acid that helps to replenish glutathione, one of the most powerful antioxidants our bodies need. This antioxidant improves circulating levels of insulin and insulin sensitivity in hyperinsulinemic women with PCOS (3).
Due to NAC’s ability to positively improve insulin sensitivity, it helps people with PCOS to ovulate more regularly. Also, because of its ability to support ovulation, NAC has been used effectively as an adjuvant to Letrozole to help it perform better for ovulation induction. Letrozole is a common medication that is used to help those with PCOS ovulate.
In a double blind study comparing 2 groups of people with PCOS, the first group was in the NAC + Letrozole group and the 2nd group was in the Placebo + Letrozole group. The NAC + Letrozole group had bigger follicle development and a 20% higher pregnancy rate compared to the Placebo + Letrozole group (4).
3. Omega 3 from Fish Oil (DHA + EPA)
Omega 3’s from fish oil help to improve PCOS by decreasing testosterone, helping to increase ovulation and menstrual regulation. As mentioned before, insulin resistance increases the ovaries’ production of testosterone and contributes to anovulation.
In a double blind clinical trial, people diagnosed with PCOS that had elevated testosterone and irregular menstrual cycles were divided into two groups.
The first group was given Omega 3’s from fish oil for 8 weeks while the second group was given a placebo for 8 weeks. The omega 3 group had a reduction of serum testosterone and were 24% more likely to have a regular menstrual cycle compared to the placebo group (5).
Not all omega 3’s are the same though: omega 3’s from fish oil are more effective than omega 3’s from non-animal products (plants). This is because omega 3’s from non-animal products are composed of alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) and only a small portion of this is converted to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
DHA + EPA are what make up the omega 3’s from fish and they don’t need to be converted.
It is important to mention that it’s best to speak with a qualified practitioner prior to starting a supplement regimen for safety and dosing.
The practitioners at Whole Family Health are always happy to assist you in your fertility journey, contact us today to book a free 15-minute phone consultation!
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