What is PCOS?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder common among women of all age groups. Women who suffer from PCOS may have prolonged or infrequent menstrual periods. In some women with PCOS, their body releases an excess amount of androgen (male hormone). The ovaries may fail to regularly release eggs and develop several follicles (small collections of fluids).
The exact causes of PCOS are not known yet. But many studies have shown that heredity, excess insulin or androgen, or vitamin deficiencies can be the cause of PCOS.
In 2014, a study published in the Archives of Women's Mental Health suggested that a deficiency of vitamin D may be a risk factor for depressive symptoms in women suffering from PCOS.
Vitamins play a crucial role in the functioning of the body. For example, a deficiency of Vitamin D has been linked with PCOS, insulin resistance, and depression.
Women with PCOS experience high insulin levels. This causes their ovaries to produce an excess amount of androgen. It can cause acne, excess body hair growth, and irregular or prolonged periods.
What are vitamins, and how do they work?
Vitamins are types of nutrients needed by the body to perform different functions. The human body has no way of creating these nutrients on its own. They must come in through the food you eat. Your body needs at least 13 different types of vitamins.
These vitamins are differentiated into two categories: fat-soluble vitamins and water-soluble vitamins.
Fat-soluble vitamins require special fat molecules known as chylomicrons. These fat molecules are absorbed along with the fat-soluble vitamins before entering the bloodstream. Once they enter the blood, proteins are required for them to be carried along the blood vessels.
Fatty tissue stores an excess amount of molecules. Sometimes, these excess amounts can become toxic as well. Most of the time, the toxicity happens because of inappropriate vitamin supplements. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble vitamins.
Vitamin D is also known as the sunshine vitamin. It is essential in improving insulin sensitivity and controlling blood sugar. The deficiency of vitamin D is linked with obesity and insulin resistance in women with PCOS.
Water-soluble vitamins do not require any assistance from special proteins to get absorbed in the bloodstream. They move freely throughout the body cells and blood.
An excess amount of water-soluble vitamins is usually released from the body to prevent the build-up of toxins. Vitamins B and C are water-soluble vitamins.
Vitamins B plays an essential role in correcting PCOS symptoms. It helps our liver convert old hormones into harmless compounds, which are later excreted from the body. Vitamins B2, B3, B5, and B6 help in managing the weight as well:
Vitamin B2 is also known as riboflavin. It processes sugar, fat, and proteins into energy.
Vitamin B3 is also known as niacin. Every time the blood sugar levels rise, a component of the glucose tolerance factor is released. It helps keep the blood sugar levels in check.
Vitamin B5 is known as pantothenic acid. It helps in fat metabolism.
Along with vitamin B2 and B3, vitamin B6 helps maintain hormone balance in the body.
Vitamin D deficiency in PCOS
The most important thing to note here is that most people have a vitamin D deficiency. A study suggested that about 67-85% of people have vitamin D deficiency.
Excess of vitamin D deficiency has been linked with:
- Ovulatory and menstrual irregularities
- Insulin resistance
- Lower pregnancy rates
This pretty much sums up what happens during PCOS. A deficiency in vitamin D makes these symptoms worse.
Vitamin D receptors are found in the ovary and uterine lining in women. It suggests that vitamin D plays an important role in fertility. Hyperandrogenism (an excess amount of androgen or testosterone) causes increased hair growth, acne, and hair loss. Studies have shown that women with vitamin D deficiency suffer from hyperandrogenism.
Frequently asked questions around Vitamin D and PCOS (FAQs)
Can taking vitamin D cause acne?
Taking vitamin D supplements causes acne in most people. Those who have acne-prone skin have a higher chance of developing acne. It happens because the supplements stimulate testosterone, a hormone responsible for aggravating hormonal acne.
If vitamin D is low, can I get pregnant?
Studies suggest that a deficiency may affect a woman’s chances of getting pregnant. Low vitamin D blood levels affect the sperm function and embryo implantation rate.
Can low vitamin D cause acne?
In most people, acne is caused by changes in the hormone levels, excess oil production in the pores, bacteria, and dirt. If you have acne, low vitamin D levels may be causing the symptoms or worsening them.
Are low vitamin D and infertility related?
Low vitamin D levels have been linked with many fertility problems such as PCOS, abnormal sperm function, uterine fibroids, and reduced IVF success rates. Many unfavourable pregnancy outcomes in women with vitamin D deficiency have been observed, such as gestational diabetes, preterm birth, or preeclampsia.