Vitamin D deficiency is relatively common in this country, and some studies suggest that over 60% of people with PCOS could be Vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D is best known for helping your body absorb calcium from food, which is important for keeping bones strong. Vitamin D could also benefit your immune system, keep muscles working well, and may possibly help prevent certain types of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
We make vitamin D when our skin is exposed to sunlight during certain times of the year and hours of the day. The problem is that we don’t have much exposure if we live in a northern climate in the winter, if we spend a lot of time indoors, if we have darker skin, and if we use sunscreen. And of course too much exposure to UV light can cause skin cancer. So some of the reasons are vitamin D levels are low could be because we don’t have as much sun exposure as previous generations did.
Vitamin D in Food
Food sources of vitamin D include egg yolks, fatty fish, and fortified milk/dairy, and fortified cereal. The RDA for most people is between 400-800 IU per day, which is hard for most people to get from foods.
Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency
Symptoms of deficiency include fatigue, hair loss, bone or muscle pain, depression, and/or frequently getting sick.
What role does vitamin D have in PCOS?
- Supplementing with vitamin D may improve insulin resistance. This is important since insulin resistance and high levels of insulin make PCOS symptoms worse.
- Supplementing with vitamin D may decrease inflammation. Inflammation can increase insulin resistance and increase your risk for heart disease.
- Several studies suggest that supplementing with vitamin D can help improve fertility for women with PCOS.
- Supplementing with vitamin D may help mood, which is important since people with PCOS have a greater risk of depression than the general population.
*** Since people with PCOS are at greater risk for vitamin D deficiency, symptoms for deficiency can be vague, we don’t have a lot of good sources of vitamin D, and there are a lot of potential benefits to getting your vitamin D levels up if you PCOS, you may want to consider supplementing.
If you suspect you have vitamin D deficiency, ask you doctor to test your levels since you may need a prescription strength supplement.
Most people can safely supplement with 1000-2000 IUs per day, though you can talk with your doctor about supplementing in even higher doses if they suspect deficiency. Some multivitamins have 1000 IUs of vitamin D you may want to consider taking (though the pill is big!). Here is the multivitamin I take.
Let me know if you have any other questions about vitamin D and click PCOS nutrition to contact me to talk about nutrition counseling for PCOS.