The “sunshine vitamin” or vitamin D has been a hot topic recently. What are the benefits of vitamin D? How can it help me with my PCOS? In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of vitamin D and PCOS and how to take advantage of this key nutrient.
The truth is, a lot of people don’t know they are vitamin D deficient, and there are many women who have both a deficiency in vitamin D and PCOS.
Vitamin D is produced in the skin when exposed to sunlight. This vitamin is fat-soluble and includes the vitamins D1, D2, and D3.
How Will I Benefit From Sufficient Vitamin D?
- Helps fight disease
Although this vitamin was discovered in 1920 with the initial view limited to curing children with rickets and osteomalacia, there is a raft of other health challenges that can benefit from a sufficient intake of this vitamin. For example, it helps to strengthen the immune system and reduce inflammation (1). According to the study, Vitamin D, PCOS, and androgens in men: a systematic review, vitamin D also helps women with PCOS increase their fertility. (2)
- Helps to reduce oxidative stress
Vitamin D paired with evening primrose oil has been shown to reduce oxidative stress in women with PCOS. According to a study by Khadijeh Nasri and team, women who supplemented with vitamin D and evening primrose oil for 12 weeks had healthier triglyceride and very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol levels, significant increases in blood vitamin D and plasma total glutathione (GSH) levels and a reduction in malondialdehyde level (MDA), (3) all indicators of a reduction in oxidative stress.
- Helps aid a healthy weight, boosts fertility and more
In the study Vitamin D in the etiology and management of polycystic ovary syndrome, the authors note that 67 – 85% of women with PCOS have serum vitamin D levels less than 20 ng/ml (I like to see patients at 80 ng/ml or above). With links between low Vitamin D levels and “insulin resistance, CVD risk factors, infertility and hirsutism [and] observational studies [showing] lower 25OHD levels are related to obesity, insulin resistance, menstrual dysfunction, lower pregnancy success, hirsutism, hyperandrogenism, and elevated CVD [cardiovascular disease] risk factors” ensuring a sufficient intake of vitamin D is critical. (4)
Where Can I Get Vitamin D, Aside from the Sun?
There are few food sources of vitamin D, although some foods are now fortified with this important vitamin. “Fortified” means the vitamin has been added to the food. Here are food sources of vitamin D: (5)
- Cod liver oil
- Sockeye Salmon
- Egg yolk
- Cooked beef liver
- A2 yogurt (Fortified)
- Sardines (Fortified)
Why Are Some Women Deficient In Vitamin D and PCOS Sufferers?
You can develop a vitamin D deficiency if you are in an area of high pollution, with limited sun exposure, or you have darker skin.
Symptoms Of Vitamin D Deficiency Include:
- Severe bone muscle pain
- Stress fractures in your legs, pelvis, and hips
How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?
Now that you know how key vitamin D is for your health, it’s important to have an idea of appropriate intakes. Here’s the recommended vitamin D dosage in women (5):
- 0-6 months – 1000 IU
- 7-12 months – 1500 IU
- 1-3 years – 2500 IU
- 4-8 years – 3000 IU
- 9-18 years – 4000 IU
- 19 and up – 4000 IU
During summer, ensure at least several minutes of sun exposure daily. This is best done earlier in the morning or later in the day to dangerous exposure to the rays that can contribute to cancer. During the winter you may need to get several hours of sunshine a day.
Remember, we can never overdose on Vitamin D produced by the sun alone. And though we certainly need to be careful of the potential for skin cancer, a deficiency in vitamin D and PCOS are also serious issues.
I highly recommend supplemental vitamin D, especially during the cool and cold months. The risks of low levels are too important to ignore, especially in women with PCOS.