There is so much I want to tell you about when it comes to supplements for PCOS. First, I want you to know that we work hard to make sure you have the best information possible to help you beat this highly treatable disorder. Whether you're taking S'moo or mixing your own blend of supplements this blog can help you understand what you need and why it's making a difference to treat your PCOS symptoms. Where do you start? With vitamins and minerals which all play important roles in our metabolism, brain function, reproductive health. Which is why, when you're lacking these essential vitamins and minerals your PCOS symptoms will become apparent. How do you know if you're missing important nutrients? Ask yourself if you have brain fog, moodiness, fatigue, hair loss or skin issues because those are all a sign that you need a little more supplement love!
For those who don't know, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome aka PCOS is an endocrine system hormonal disorder, commonly found among women of child bearing age. Why? Because it's one of the leading causes of infertility and when you're TTC and can't, this is when you hit the doctor and find out about PCOS.
If you're a women with PCOS, you already know this. You also know that PCOS can start anywhere from between 15 years old (or when your mensural cycle starts) to about 44. It's also important to remember that you can't just wait this out, PCOS won't just go away unless you're making the right diet changes. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) doesn't even go away with menopause. So what's the good news you ask? The good news is, with a little hard work PCOS is completely treatable. There is no magic pill but there are supplements that can help rebalance your body and allow you to forgo the uncomfortable PCOS symptoms, get pregnant and have regular cycles.
So what does this mean? Hormones play a huge role in how our bodies function. Women with PCOS have a hormone imbalance where the ovaries produce an abnormal amount of androgens, male sex hormones (these "male hormones" are usually present in women, just in very small amounts). With some cases of PCOS, women won't be able to produce enough hormones to ovulate, when this happens the ovaries can develop many small cysts (fluid filled, non-cancerous follicles). This is where the name polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) came from, though it is often misleading as not all women with PCOS have cysts.
Why do supplements make such a difference for PCOS? It's amazing, the domino effect that happens in your body when one thing starts making more or less than what your body needs. Depending on your PCOS symptoms (irregular or non-existent periods, weight gain, excess hair growth, fatigue, cystic acne and more) you'll be able to figure out the best supplements to help give your body what it needs so all the elements in your body can start firing properly.
We’ve outlined our TOP 10 supplements for PCOS besides our favorite: S'moo. For those who don't know, S'moo is a blend of natural ingredients designed for PCOS that has been helping women all over the world. You'll even find some of the S'moo ingredients listed below.
Our TOP 10 PCOS Supplements:
Inositol (Vitamin B8): Let's talk about Inositol! Inositol is a carbohydrate found in your body. This vitamin-like substance is also found in many plants (fruits, beans, grains and nuts) and animals. Inositol has been shown by studies to have an impressive track record of improving fertility by improving the number of good quality oocytes (eggs in the ovaries). Research also shows that taking inositol helps in lowering testosterone levels, decreasing blood pressure and encouraging smooth ovarian function in women. Inositol can also aid in reducing insulin resistance which in turn helps balance the number of androgens in the body. Inositol has been known to improve insulin resistance, cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure. Which is why you’ll find Inositol in S’moo because besides these benefits, it helps women with PCOS by lowering triglyceride and testosterone levels and increasing ovary function.
There was a study done that compared metformin to myo-inositol that found natural pregnancy rates were higher for women with PCOS when they took myo-inositol (30% natural pregnancy rate in 6 months, compared to 18% for metformin).
NAC (N-acetyl Cysteine): In a small study of PCOS women using NAC every day, it was found to improve insulin sensitivity and lower testosterone levels! NAC is found in various vegetables and animal sources. NAC is known for improving fertility and ovulation while also reducing cholesterol levels. Another study found that women taking NAC decrease in BMI, testosterone levels, hirsutism and it improved their menstrual cycle.
Ashwagandha: If you're experiencing the depression or anxiety commonly associated with the psychological symptoms of PCOS, then this powerful adaptogen root (Indian ginseng) might be what you need. Many randomized controlled trials have been done that show a reduction of stress and anxiety. Ashwagandha doesn't only make you feel good, it is also known to improve fertility and induce ovulation, not to mention it can reduce cortisol concentrations which help with social stress. It's a great natural alternative to anti-anxiety medications and it really does work for PCOS, just ask all the women who use S'moo, a better mood is one the best benefits of taking S'moo and that's the Ashwagandha at work!
Magnesium Citrate: Magnesium is found in green vegetables, raw cocoa, nuts and seeds and can also be taken in pill form. Women with PCOS and those with other metabolic conditions such as insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes tend to be deficient in magnesium. Studies have shown the effectiveness of magnesium in insulin resistance, in being anti-inflammatory, and in redressing of adrenal hormones – all essential actions for managing PCOS symptoms and treating the root causes of PCOS. Magnesium assists in the activation of vitamin D and so it's usually a good idea to take them together. As most people are deficient in vitamin D.
Interesting fact: A study where magnesium and B6 was tested on women with PMS found that though magnesium was helpful on its own, women had less PMS symptoms if they took magnesium with B6.
Vitamin D3: Vitamin D isn’t just a vitamin but also a hormone. The fact is that most people in the United States are deficient in Vitamin D. Vitamin D3 is formed in our body through direct exposure to sunlight, though that isn't the only way to get it! It not only reduces androgen levels and inflammation but also may improve fertility. A study published in the Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology showed that infertile PCOS women had improvements in menstrual regularity after 3 months of supplementation with Vitamin D.
Our bodies need Vitamin D and as it is studied more, we are finding it is extra crucial for women with PCOS.
Chromium Picolinate: An essential mineral found in broccoli, nuts and wholegrain products. Chromium promotes a good physical appearance by giving you a glowing, healthy complexion and reducing acne often caused by PCOS or high androgen levels. One study examining the role of Chromium Picolinate in women with PCOS found that 200 mcg daily of Chromium Picolinate significantly reduced blood sugar and insulin levels. It also helped in promoting a healthy metabolic rate, studies also show its significance in terms of reducing cholesterol thereby producing healthy heart activities.
Zinc Gluconate: Zinc is naturally found in legumes, nuts and seeds and helps with hair loss, ovulation, acne and insulin sensitivity symptoms from PCOS. Studies bring into limelight its proven efficacy in fighting treatment-resistant depression, a common PCOS symptom thereby improving overall mood and energy levels. Another study showed that using 30 mg/day elemental Zinc for 8 weeks among PCOS women had beneficial effects on alopecia, hirsutism, and plasma MDA levels.
Take a look at these 6 symptoms zinc might help you overcome if you have PCOS:
- Hair loss (androgenic alopecia) or excess hair (hirsutism) can be helped by Zinc because it is an anti-androgen, and since it reduces androgens it can help reverse those symptoms.
- Inflammation is common for women with PCOS. Inflammation inside your body can happen in response to illness, obesity, stress and genetics. Inflammation can produce extra insulin, creating a pathway to testosterone production. Zinc can reduce inflammation because of its antioxidant properties.
- Irregular ovulation is common in women with PCOS and zinc actually is very important for ovulation function, helping follicles mature and improving fertility.
- Regulating your blood sugar can be difficult for women with PCOS, zinc has been shown to have a lot of benefits when trying to regulate your blood sugar. This is because zinc helps with the production and secretion of insulin.
- Hormonal acne is caused by excess androgens which increase the sebum (excess oil) and since zinc can reduce androgens it can create clearer skin!
- Depression can be caused or amplified by a zinc deficiency. Studies show that supplementing zinc can improve your mood.
Melatonin: Having a hard time sleeping? It's not uncommon for women with PCOS to have insomnia. Melatonin is a naturally produced hormone that our brains release at night to help regulate sleep, supplementing this hormone can be a great idea if you're suffering from insomnia. It's relatively safe and can be a short term fix. In the long run, diet fixes can help with many sleep disorders. Things that can help are avoiding inflammatory foods like Refined carbohydrates and high-fructose corn syrup. Try eating more nutrient dense foods (Examples of nutrient-dense foods include leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and broccoli; whole grains such as wheat, corn, quinoa, and barley in the form of breads and cereals; fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, and pomegranates; oily fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and sardines)
Probiotics: Another great option for PCOS and for women's health overall, is probiotics. Your gut is comprised of hundreds, possibly close to a 1,000 different types of microorganisms. This little community of microorganisms is referred to as the gut flora or microbiota. Why does this matter you ask? Well your gut flora is highly sensitive to your diet, and studies show that an unbalanced gut flora is linked to a ton of different diseases, some of which are symptoms women with PCOS experience like obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and depression.
So how do you get great gut health to help prevent or help with these symptoms? Probiotics. These live cultures of healthy gut bacteria so promising results with PCOS symptoms. There are a few different options for probiotics and deciding on the amount might be a conversation to have with your doctor because you can either try getting probiotics from foods like yogurt, Kefir, Sauerkraut, Tempeh, you can also go a different direction. A more extreme option is to order a stool test from your physician and to see what strains of probiotics you're missing. The strains are Bifidobacterium, lactobacillus, and streptococcus and they are available in capsule, tablet, powder, and chewable tablet formulations. The exact science and research on what probiotic elements are specifically needed for PCOS are still unclear. There is no exact strain of bacteria that will achieve specific health goals but from the research that has been done, it seems there are benefits to certain high dose strains of Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Streptococcus.
Omega-3 fatty acids: Benefits of using Omega-3 as a supplement for PCOS are for increasing insulin sensitivity, reducing painful menstrual periods, and reduce high triglycerides. Triglycerides are a type of fat, one study suggests that 70% of women with PCOS have unhealthy levels of fat cells (cholesterol and triglycerides).
Though as awesome as supplements can be, it turns out for this one, it isn't as good for you as the real thing. What do I mean by that? Well, The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of cold-water fish per week in order to get the best quality and health results from omega-3. It seems the American diet is full of omega-6 which can come from vegetable oil (used in baked goods and fried foods) but omega-6 alone raises your blood pressure, leads to blood clots that can cause heart attack and stroke, and causes your body to retain water.
There are three main omega-3 fatty acids: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA are essential fatty acids that the body cannot produce and can only come from diet or supplementation. These essential fatty acids are an integral part of cell membranes throughout the body and are a building block for hormones that regulate blood clotting and inflammation.
Inflammation can be a big factor in PCOS which is just one more reason you should be adding fatty-fish to your diet.
Supplements are great but know that just taking one of these isn't going to solve all your problems, supplements for PCOS and finding the right balance can be complicated and too little of one thing and too much of another can make it hard for your body to absorb the right amount. This is why S'moo is great, blended together to give you what you need from each supplement. Talk to your doctor and find out what they think is best for your situation and what supplements for PCOS are best for you. Trial and error might seem like a long shot but it also can work if you're dedicated and keep a food journal to track what you're eating, which supplements you're taking and how you feel each day.
Other options besides supplements for PCOS?
So you want to try to cure your PCOS another way? What are your options... well some doctors will say birth control but that doesn't fix PCOS, it just puts a bandaid on it. If you're really against taking supplements there is always your diet that you can take control of to manage PCOS. This isn't easy and I will warn you that some of your options for getting what you'd get in a supplement could be crazy. What do I mean... I just mean it can be hard to eat a ton of one type of food to balance your body but it is possible. I mentioned some of the food options above but here is a little more detail:
How can you can get zinc naturally: Zinc is found in many foods. Mostly you can find it in red meat, poultry, and seafood. Zinc is absorbed better from animal foods versus plant foods. Examples of plant based foods with zinc are things like legumes, whole grains, nuts, and dairy.
How to you can get Magnesium naturally: If you want to go the natural route and increase magnesium for your PCOS then you’re going to need to eat at least two servings of vegetables with every meal. Don’t forget to have some fruit too. Not only is it important to eat magnesium rich foods but to help your body absorb the magnesium try to reduce your sugar and alcohol intake. Foods which contain magnesium: Green leafy vegetables (e.g. spinach and kale); Fruit (figs, avocado, banana and raspberries); Nuts and seeds; Legumes (black beans, chickpeas and kidney beans); Vegetables (peas, broccoli, cabbage, green beans, artichokes, asparagus, brussel sprouts); Seafood (salmon, mackerel, tuna); Whole grains (brown rice and oats); Raw cacao; Dark Chocolate; Tofu; Baked beans
How you can get Omega-3 fatty acids naturally: Since omega-3 can help fight inflammation which is super important as chronic low-grade inflammation has emerged as a key contributor to the pathogenesis of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). You can get fish oil naturally from eating fish such as Anchovies, Bluefish, Herring, Mackerel, Marlin, Orange roughy, Salmon, Sardines, Sturgeon, Lake trout and Tuna. Omega-3 can also be found in nuts and seeds like walnuts, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, peanuts and hazelnut.
How you can get Inositol naturally: Inositol is synthesized from glucose by the bacteria within our intestines, it is not officially recognized as a vitamin. However, it can by synthesized by our bodies and help PCOS from the following foods: organic, grass-fed sources of meat and eggs (If you're going to have meat you want to make sure it wasn't raised on steroids and antibiotics, as those will transfer to you do more harm than good) fresh, organic fruits (oranges, peaches, and pears); unrefined whole grains; Legumes and sprouts; organic vegetables (bell peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, and asparagus, along with green leafy vegetables); nuts and seeds
A lot of times supplements for PCOS can be a lot easier than going on a full PCOS diet, not to mention organic foods are amazing for you but not always something our wallets can handle. As someone who has eaten very healthy all through college years and beyond, I've spent any extra money on fresh foods. If you can spend the time preparing meals and the money to buy the best produce, whole grains and organic grass fed meat, than this could be a great option for you.
Supplements also add up and at the end of the day this is all a ton of work. Which is why a lot of women with PCOS choose to use S'moo instead because it makes it so easy but I promise that you can do it whatever way you find best. Once you get into the groove of it, and do it often enough, it will become part of your everyday and it won't seem so difficult anymore. You're worth the extra work, your PCOS symptoms shouldn't run your life and whether you pick a PCOS diet or a combination of PCOS supplements, that is up to you. I hope this blog helped bring to light the best supplements for PCOS so you can look forward to days without PCOS symptoms.
If you have any questions or are looking for support, join our S'moo Babe Private Facebook group where women with PCOS, endometriosis, PMDD and more are talking and supporting one another.
This content is strictly the opinion of S'moo and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither S'moo nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.