Vitamin D For PCOS
Women with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) may also have varying degrees of insulin resistance and an increased incidence of diabetes.
Over the past 30 years, numerous studies have established a role for calcium in egg maturation and normal follicular development. PCOS is characterized by hyperandrogenic chronic anovulation (lack of ovulation) due to excess androgens (masculinizing hormones), ovarian theca cell overgrowth, and arrested follicular development.
Vitamin D plays a crucial role in calcium absorption and regulation. A study conducted at Columbia University investigated whether vitamin D and calcium dysregulation contribute to the development of follicular arrest in women with PCOS, resulting in reproductive and menstrual dysfunction.
They studied 13 women who had chronic anovulation, hyperandrogenism and vitamin D insufficiency. Nine had abnormal pelvic sonograms with multiple ovarian follicular cysts. All were hirsute, two had hair loss, and five had acanthosis nigricans.
Vitamin D combined with calcium supplementation resulted in normalized menstrual cycles within 2 months for seven women. Two became pregnant and the others maintained normal menstrual cycles. These data suggest that abnormalities in calcium balance may be responsible, in part, for the arrested follicular development in women with PCOS and may contribute to the pathogenesis of PCOS.
Two other recent studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency may be a contributing factor to insulin resistance and diabetes, both of which are problems for women with PCOS. These and other studies suggest that vitamin D plays a role in the secretion, and possibly the action, of insulin. People with diabetes tend to have lower vitamin D levels.
You can increase your vitamin D levels by exposing your skin to more sunlight. You can also take a vitamin D supplement. However, since vitamin D is toxic in high doses, it's wise to get your vitamin D level measured with a blood test, or consult with a licensed naturopathic physician.
Thys-Jacobs S, et al, Vitamin D and calcium dysregulation in the polycystic ovarian syndrome, Steroids. 1999 Jun;64(6):430-5.
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