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Dr Hagmeyer Explains How Vitamin D Helps with Hormone Imbalances Like PCOS

Vitamin D Helps with Hormone Imbalances Like PCOS

More people are recognizing that vitamin D is important for good health. It helps build strong bones and boosts your ability to fight colds and infections. Vitamin D affects many systems in your body and is related to serious diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. So it shouldn’t be a big surpise that vitamin D also plays an important role in woman who struggle with polycystic ovary syndrome(PCOS).

Some studies show that anywhere between  60% to 80% of women with PCOS are vitamin D deficient, which means they don’t have the recommended amount of vitamin D in their bodies.

Vitamin D Helps with Insulin Levels

Getting optimal amounts of vitamin D has been shown to have positive influence on blood-sugar levels, possibly preventing diabetes and “metabolic syndrome,” a group of metabolism abnormalities associated with insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance is when cells in your muscles, fat, and liver don’t respond well to insulin and can’t use glucose from your blood for energy. To make up for it, your pancreas makes more insulin. Over time, your blood sugar levels go up.

Even more people have “metabolic syndrome“, which is characterized by heart-disease risk factors such as high blood pressure, elevated levels of triglycerides, low levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and abdominal obesity.

PCOS shares many of attributes of metabolic syndrome, and women with PCOS are more likely to develop diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

PCOS and Hashimotos Thyroid Disease

If you have been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, you are well aware of the many hormone imbalances that exist. Common symptoms include menstrual irregularity, problematic acne, and excessive hair growth.

You may also struggle with your weight due to the disruptions that PCOS causes to your metabolism, and you may have difficulty getting pregnant. As if that’s not enough, you are likely at higher risk for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. A team of researchers from Germany examined the medical charts of 827 women with PCOS who were receiving care from an outpatient fertility clinic.

 These investigators were interested in learning more about the metabolic and reproductive problems commonly seen in these patients.  According to their analysis, published in Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology & Diabetes, the researchers found that many women with polycystic ovary syndrome may also have problems with their thyroid, a gland that helps to maintain metabolic processes in the body.

More specifically, this form of thyroid disease—Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune hypothyroid condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the thyroid—is three times more common in women with PCOS than in women without it.

If you are interested in learning more about PCOS and Hashimotos thyroid disease you can read my past article where, I talked about the surprising link between PCOS and Hashimoto’s autoimmune Thyroiditis. If you are a woman who has either had a miscarriage or you suffer with hypothyroidism, you will want to go back and read this article. In many cases of polycystic ovarian syndrome, diabetes and metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance is a significant contributing factor.

Dr Hagmeyer Explains How Vitamin D Helps with Hormone Imbalances Like PCOS 3

Low Vitamin D Levels associated with Weaker Pancreatic Function

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps transport glucose from the bloodstream into the cells, where it is used to produce energy. In people with insulin resistance, plenty of insulin is available, but the body has an impaired capacity to recognize or respond to its hormonal signal. Consequently blood sugar gets backed up and blood sugar levels go up. In a recent study, vitamin D status was assessed in a group of healthy young volunteers. The degree of insulin resistance and the capacity of the pancreas to secrete insulin were also measured in each volunteer

The results showed that lower blood levels of vitamin D were associated with a greater degree of insulin resistance and with weaker pancreatic function.

Of those with suboptimal vitamin D levels, 30% had one or more components of the metabolic syndrome, compared with only 11% of those with normal vitamin D levels.

These results suggest that vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of insulin resistance or of the metabolic syndrome.

As many as 70% of Americans may have vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is present in only a few foods, such as cod-liver oil, oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines), and vitamin D-fortified dairy products and breakfast cereals.

Makes you wonder with all the enriched Vitamin D Americans get in their cow’s milk and enriched morning cereal grains why Vitamin D deficiency is an epidemic? (That’s a whole other article)

Metabolic syndrome affects 33% of women with PCOS.

To prevent complications related to metabolic syndrome, women with PCOS are usually advised to lose weight and eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.

Metabolic syndrome refers to a group of conditions that put you at risk for heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. These conditions include:

  • High blood sugar
  • Low levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol
  • High triglyceride levels
  • Abdominal fat
  • High blood pressure

A lack of vitamin D has been directly linked to metabolic syndrome.

According to research:

  • Vitamin D helped prevent insulin resistance, a condition in which your body can’t regulate blood sugar.
  • Insulin, triglycerides, and cholesterol levels improved for overweight women with PCOS who took vitamin D for eight weeks.
  • Vitamin D and calcium supplements significantly reduced blood pressure in women with PCOS.

Dr Hagmeyer Explains How Vitamin D Helps with Hormone Imbalances Like PCOS 2

People who don’t receive adequate amounts of sun exposure are at risk of developing vitamin D deficiency.

If you’re unable to obtain that amount of sunlight exposure, vitamin D supplementation must be considered.

The amount recommended by most doctors ranges from 400 IU to 1,000 IU per day. However this amount should only be recommended after you have had a proper vitamin D Test.

You should request your doctor to evaluate your Vitamin D Levels both 25OHD and 1-25 OHD Levels.


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Source: Chiu, KC et al, Hypovitaminosis D is associated with insulin resistance and beta cell dysfunction, Am. J. Clinical Nutrition, May 2004; 79:820-825

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