Getting diagnosed with PCOS can really take the wind out of your sails - mentally, emotionally, and physically. According to the Office On Women’s Health funded by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a health problem that affects 1 in 10 women of childbearing age. Most women diagnosed with PCOS are told that they’ll never be able to conceive naturally, there is nothing that can be done, and that it’s just part of her biological makeup. Talk. About. Discouraging. We’re here to tell you that there are exceptions to this conventional narrative told to women around the world every day and that there are natural supplements for PCOS, providing you with options to help alleviate symptoms and fuel your health. Your journey doesn’t have to involve drugs, albeit birth control or antidepressants, or even androgen blockers and we'll tell you why!
What is PCOS?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, in short, is a clinical diagnosis that indicates there are a hormonal imbalance and metabolism problems that may affect a woman’s overall health and appearance. It’s also a common (but treatable) cause of infertility. The imbalance of reproductive hormones creates major problems in the ovaries, like not releasing it or developing it, during ovulation as it should be. Irregular periods, which is one of the main symptoms of PCOS, can lead to infertility and the development of cysts in the ovaries.
What Causes PCOS?
Unfortunately, nobody really understands PCOS enough to establish an exact cause, which could be one of the biggest contributing factors to poor treatment options and patient care.
Most experts in the women’s health field believe that several factors, including genetics, contribute to a PCOS diagnosis. Some believe that it can be blamed on high levels of androgens (male hormones) can cause PCOS because of the prevention of the ovaries releasing an egg during each menstrual cycle, as well as extra hair growth and acne.
Other researchers believe that it can be blamed on high levels of insulin and insulin regulation, especially in women who are overweight/obese, don’t get sufficient exercise, or have a family history of type 2 diabetes. [R] Regulating insulin and your body’s natural insulin response has started to emerge as a focus of attention for women with PCOS symptoms or diagnoses’.
Symptoms of PCOS Women Should Be Aware Of:
- Trouble getting pregnant
- Unexplained thinning of the hair or hair loss
- Adrenal dysfunction
- Poor blood sugar regulation and imbalances
- Systemic inflammation
- Abnormally long menstrual cycles
- Irregular periods
- Dark skin on the back of the neck
- Dark facial hair on parts of the body (face, chest, abdomen)
Risks Associated With PCOS
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a disease, and with any disease comes both long, and short term complications. In the long term, the health risks and consequences get pretty serious for women, according to University Chicago Medicine, which includes:
- Infertility (or subfertility)
- Endometrial Cancer
- Lipid Abnormalities
- Cardiovascular Risks (Heart Disease)
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea
With that being said, not all women clinically diagnosed with PCOS will develop any of these conditions, but it is important to note that the risk is increased, greatly. There are natural supplements for PCOS that can alleviate symptoms and improve your health as a conscious effort to reduce the risks associated with PCOS.
Is Birth Control The Answer To Symptoms of PCOS?
Just about every woman sitting in a physicians office who just was given the news of being diagnosed with PCOS is immediately recommended and prescribed some form of birth control as a solution. But is it right? Is birth control really the answer to symptoms of PCOS? Probably not, and we’re not the only ones that think this, either. Non-pregnancy related reasons, like irregular periods, PMS, and acne, are why nearly 60% of women of childbearing age have prescribed the pill. Instead of helping, it can often lead to further levels of frustration and discouragement, masking the real reasons.
It’s being noticed that women are experiencing increased insulin resistance levels, systemic inflammation, hormonal disorders, and autoimmune diseases, in addition to PCOS. And the fix? It’s not birth control, it’s a natural approach to your overall health and wellbeing, including integrating natural supplements for PCOS treatment.
While you may not be able to change the genetic factors that contributed to your cellular makeup in the womb, it is important to do what you can now as a preventative measure to being happy and healthy, long-term.
4 Natural Supplements For PCOS
Natural Supplements For PCOS: Magnesium
According to a study reported in Gynecology Endocrinology, women with PCOS are 19x more likely to have a magnesium deficiency. This staggering statistic can be correlated to the benefit of magnesium and its role in regulating glucose, insulin, and even blood pressure in healthy individuals. [R] Magnesium is actually the fourth most abundant mineral in the body, acting as an electrolyte regulating heart contractions and water balances within the human body. [R] If you’re not meeting your recommended daily intake (RDI) of magnesium from vegetables and fruits (stress can also deplete magnesium), you can be left high and dry, which is not a situation you want to be in, PCOS or not.
Women with PCOS can benefit from taking a magnesium supplement for more than a few reasons, including:
- Migrant Prevention and Alleviation
- Pain Relief and Reduced Systemic Inflammation [R]
- PMS Relief (bloating, constipation, cravings, cramping, sleep issues, anxiety)
- Dysmenorrhea Relief and Prevention
- Mood Improvement (reduced anxiety)
- Regulating Insulin Resistance & Blood Sugar Regulation [R]
- Lower Blood Pressure
If you’re like most women and are unable to get a sufficient amount of magnesium from the foods in your diet, like fruits, vegetables, and chocolate then we recommend a magnesium supplement. But if you are deficient, these food sources may provide insufficient amounts; we recommend taking a magnesium supplement. The RDI for magnesium for women with PCOS is 300-400mg per day. We recommend taking Swolverine’s ZMT supplement that includes 400mg of Magnesium.
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT: ZMT - Magnesium Supplement For Women
Natural Supplements For PCOS: Vitamin D3
Vitamin D is so much more than just the sunshine vitamin and its benefits are not limited to skeletal health. In fact, 67-85% of women with PCOS symptoms or a PCOS diagnosis are deficient in vitamin D. [R] This vitamin actually plays a crucial role in many biological functions, especially when it comes to hormone regulation and the female body. Specifically, we’re talking about hormone regulation and vitamin D as it relates to the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), progesterone levels, and anti-mullerian hormone (AMH). [R] Additionally, low vitamin D levels are found to be significantly correlated with insulin resistance in women with PCOS. [R]
Supplementing vitamin D for women who are experiencing a journey with PCOS can prove a tremendous amount of benefit. Clinical studies analyzing the benefits of vitamin D supplementation include:
- Improved fertility [R]
- Decreased Testosterone Levels [R]
- Lowered Inflammation (hs-CRP levels) [R]
- Improved Blood Sugar Balance
- Regulated Hormones & Progesterone Levels
- Insulin Regulation
While there are foods that contain vitamin D, they’re an unreliable source of vitamin D. Even the best source of vitamin (fatty fish) provides 9-17 micrograms per 3oz serving, which isn’t enough to provide sufficient levels. To put this into perspective, the average human needs up to 100 micrograms, per day. In a study comparing the supplementation of 1,000 IU/day to 4,000 IU/day for women with PCOS, the women who took 4,000 IU/day for 12 weeks resulted in significant decreases in serum insulin, reduced levels of serum total testosterone levels, reduced Hirsutism, and a significant increase in SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin). [R]
While 4,000 IU/day was tested, it’s generally recommended that women with PCOS supplement with 1,500 IU/day to 4,000 IU/day. We recommend supplementing with Swolverine’s Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) tablets because it contains 100 servings of 1,500 IUs. Improve your health, vitality, and improve your PCOS symptoms with just 1 tablet a day.
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT: Vitamin D3 Supplement For Women With PCOS
RELATED ARTICLE: Vitamin D2 vs D3: The Most Preferred Source and Type
Natural Supplements For PCOS: Zinc
Another commonly deficient nutrient for women with PCOS is zinc. While zinc is a trace nutrient, its benefit in the human body can be witnessed throughout hundreds of enzymatic reactions that provide sufficient functioning. More importantly, as it relates to women and PCOS, zinc is necessary for regulating fertility and the menstrual cycle. Unfortunately, birth control pills deplete zinc levels, leaving many women deficient in this essential metal.
Some of the PCOS symptoms that zinc supplementation helps alleviate include:
- Reducing High Levels of Androgens (testosterone)
- Increased Insulin Response [R]
- Significant Reduction in Serum Triglycerides [R]
- Reducing Inflammation [R]
- Reducing Acne Development
- Reducing Hair Loss [R]
- Reducing Hirutism [R]
Zinc makes a great natural supplement for PCOS. It’s recommended that zinc is consumed in 8mg/day for women. In addition to incorporating foods that are high in zinc, like meat, legumes, seeds, and whey protein, those deficient can greatly benefit from a zinc supplement, like ZMT from Swolverine, which includes 30mg per serving.
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT: ZMT - Magnesium Supplement For Women
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT: Whey Protein Isolate For Women
Natural Supplements For PCOS: Omega 3s
Omega-3 fatty acids found in Krill Oil are a healthy addition to any diet, especially those who are experiencing PCOS, who have been diagnosed with PCOS, or who are looking to lose weight.
Studies have shown that a dietary lifestyle rich in omega-3s can reduce testosterone and increase SHBG levels. Sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) is the protein that binds estrogen to testosterone to normalize free-floating hormone levels. [R] This is especially beneficial to women who have PCOS because when SHBG is low, testosterone levels increase, contributing to the detrimental hormonal imbalances that PCOS causes in the body. [R]
Here are some other positive benefits that supplementing your diet and lifestyle with Krill Oil and Omega-3s can help with:
- Decreased systemic inflammation
- Increased insulin response
- Reduced weight gain and weight loss
- Reduced leptin levels [R]
- Improved metabolic syndrome
- Regulated blood sugar levels
- Decreased testosterone levels [R]
The reason why we don’t recommend taking Fish Oil and instead recommend supplementing with Krill Oil is that it’s a more potent, more nutritiously rich, higher quality and more bioavailable. The key difference between the two is this: how your body absorbs it. The omega-3s found in Krill Oil are packaged as phospholipids(the same structure found in your cellular membranes) which can be utilized immediately by your body. The Omega 3’s found in fish oil, however, are bound in triglycerides, which have to undergo additional conditions and processes in order for them to become bioavailable. [R]
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT: Krill Oil + Astaxanthin
RECOMMENDED ARTICLE: Krill Oil Vs. Fish Oil: Is Krill Oil Really Better Than Fish Oil?
Lifestyle Improvements To Support Hormone Health
Additionally, what you do in your day-to-day lifestyle is going to influence your hormone health. That includes exercising, eating regular meals, and supporting your body’s natural way of detoxing, through excretion.
Exercise Suggestions For PCOS:
Improving your overall activity can prove to be beneficial in regulating your PCOS symptoms, but too much exercise isn’t always good, either. We say aim for a balance - too much of anything is always bad, no matter how good for you it may be. Keep in mind that exercise can create stress on your adrenal glands (leading to inflammation and blood sugar dysregulation). If you have high competitive aspirations or live a very active lifestyle, we recommend regulating your cortisol levels, increasing healthy stress, reducing bad stress, and paying attention to your blood sugar levels before, during, and after training.
Don’t forget, self-care can go a long way. Giving your adrenals a break can restore balance as well as finding a healthy amount of exercise that your body can tolerate. This may include taking regular Epsom salt baths, regular massages, sitting in the sun for at least 15 minutes a day (to boost vitamin D levels), avoiding alcohol, consuming smaller amounts of caffeine, and practicing deep breathing techniques, prayer, or meditation.
RELATED ARTICLE: 15 Of The Best Superfoods That Will Supercharge Your Diet
PCOS Diet Tips:
As we just mentioned, it’s important to pay attention to regulating your blood sugar levels as well as creating a healthy, natural insulin response. Going too long between eating can cause imbalances and dysregulation. We also recommend keeping a healthy balance of Omega-3 fatty acids in the diet, lean sources of protein, and complex carbohydrates derived from vegetable and plant-based sources (the more color, the better!). We recommend working with a nutrition coach to create an anti-inflammatory, holistic nutritional approach to PCOS to manage symptoms, as well as taking a thoughtful approach to supplementation, like the ones we listed above.
Increase Fiber & Regulate Blood Sugar:
In addition to eating more colors in your everyday foods, it’s important to increase your amount of cruciferous veggies, full of fiber, and high-quality proteins. The reason? You can actually reduce systemic inflammation, deliver nutrients, and flush the entire GI naturally (definitely stay away from juice cleanses). Regulating blood sugar can be a vicious cycle to tackle, but with time and paying attention to what goes on your plate and in your mouth, you’ll be a blood sugar master in no time!
PS - drink more water, your body will thank you.
PCOS is more than just a hormonal disorder - it’s a metabolic disorder. Sure, hormones play a big role, but they don’t make up all of you. It’s important to take a natural, holistic approach to your health and wellness by taking a good hard look at you as a whole person. This includes your behavior, what you put in your body, what you put on your body, your environment, your activity, and your mental and emotional states. If you’re thinking about transitioning off the pill, we recommend consulting your physician (or a new physician, at that). One that will take a holistic and invested approach to your PCOS and overall health seriously. There are many ways to create balanced hormones through lifestyle interventions that benefit more than just your hormones.
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