While there are many diseases and conditions that can detract from a woman’s quality of life, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) can be particularly debilitating. However, by equipping yourself with knowledge and a positive mindset, women who struggle with this common syndrome can begin cultivating the life of health and wellness they deserve.
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Although there are many things that women with PCOS can do to improve their health, ensuring that they get an adequate amount of B vitamins is particularly important.
Let’s dive into the role that these vitamins can play in facilitating optimal health in PCOS.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – A Brief Overview
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormonal imbalance that can cause irregular periods, make it challenging to conceive, cause overweight and obesity, and fatigue to name by a few PCOS signs and symptoms.
The majority of women who have PCOS have multiple small cysts on their ovaries, which is where the term Polycystic Ovaries comes from. While these cysts are not harmful in that they are not malignant, they can cause, and are caused by, hormonal imbalances that can lead to mood alteration and decreased levels of energy.
Diagnosing and treating PCOS is very important because if left untreated, it can precipitate other health problems like heart disease and Diabetes.
Which brings us to the meat (or in my vegetarian case, to the tofu) of this article…
The Important Roles: PCOS and B Vitamins
B vitamins are water-soluble vitamins that play an active role in cell metabolism. There are several such vitamins: B1, B2, B3, B4, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12. While all of the B vitamins fall under the category “B vitamin,” they are chemically disparate despite the fact that they often coexist in one food item.
Typically, a supplement that contains all eight of the vitamins is referred to as a B vitamin complex. Here are several reasons why women who suffer from PCOS benefit from getting adequate amounts of these vitamins in their food plans:
1. The B Vitamin Facilitates Progesterone Production
As many health experts know, women who struggle with PCOS are often oestrogen dominant. Oestrogen dominance refers to a situation where there is an imbalance that favours oestrogen over progesterone.
The deficiency in progesterone is due to the lack of, or irregular, ovulation. Why? It’s the ‘hole’ left in the ovary once the egg reaches maturation and is released that becomes the progesterone producing gland, called the corpus luteum.
This hormonal imbalance can precipitate a plethora of unpleasant side effects. Yet by attaining optimal levels of progesterone through vitamin B consumption, women who suffer from PCOS can maintain hormonal balance. Without this important vitamin, the production of progesterone is decreased, thereby setting the stage for oestrogen domination.
It is important for women who struggle with PCOS to produce adequate amounts of serotonin. This is the case for several reasons, including the fact that serotonin is a “happy hormone” that is important for facilitating feelings of happiness and peace.
As women with PCOS are more susceptible to depression and anxiety, the importance of serotonin production cannot be emphasised enough.
Luckily, getting sufficient quantities of B6 in one’s food plan helps in the production of this important hormone. Additionally, the University of Maryland Medical Center reports that vitamin B6 enables the body to produce several neurotransmitters, the chemicals responsible for carrying signals to nerve cells.
3. The Common PCOS Medication, Metformin, Has Been Shown To Reduce B Vitamins
Metformin is very often prescribed for women with PCOS. This commonly causes side effects like tummy troubles, tiredness, and pain.
Why does it do this?
This medication can reduce B vitamins, folate and vitamin B12, and these deficiencies may be responsible for these side effects. I find clinically that women improve considerably when they supplement with a quality B vitamin supplement as well.
Signs of Inadequate B Vitamin Intake
Women with PCOS who are concerned about their vitamin B intake can begin this journey by checking for any signs and symptoms that might indicate any inadequacy.
Some of the signs of a B vitamin deficiency include:
• Microcytic anemia
• A swollen tongue
• Impaired immune function
• Stomach issues
Good Sources Of Vitamin B
There is a wide range of foods that can give women with PCOS sufficient quantities of B vitamins.
Some sources include:
• Organic poultry
• Lean red meat
• Seafood, and
Supplementation is important if you are deficient in B vitamins. It’s important to take a complex, rather than a single B vitamin. A powder or liquid formula is what I usually recommend because women with PCOS often (always, it seems) have digestive issues which make it harder to absorb and for your body to use.
Take your B-complex in the morning and on an empty stomach. It is an energy giving supplement, so if you take it in the evening it may interfere with your sleep.
In addition to getting sufficient quantities of these B vitamins in your daily meals, women with PCOS should ensure that they are eating a food plan rich in fruits and vegetables to also get the other nutrients required for health and to work with the B vitamins.
From PCOS to perfect health, with love,
P.S. When you purchase supplements, avoid those found in the supermarket. These have been found to sometimes not contain any of the listed ingredients, or not the amount stated on the container. They also are usually harsher and less effective in the body (which is why they are cheap).
P.P.S. I take the Triangle here. As a 30 year vegetarian (I am showing my age!) I just had my B12 level tested and they are well within range. I guess, as they say, the proof is in the pudding.
For disclosure, this is my husband’s business.