by Amy Medling, founder of PCOS Diva
Fish oil and vitamin D are two of the supplements I recommend for all women with PCOS. In fact, both have long been widely recommended supplements across the board, but especially for pregnant women and women with PCOS. While vitamin D fills in critical nutritional gaps, the omega-3 variety of fish oil supplements can help ease certain PCOS-related symptoms. It also plays a crucial role in a baby’s development as he or she grows in utero.
New Research on Benefits of Co-Supplementation
They key seems to be in co-supplementation. A new study found that co-supplementation of vitamin D and fish oil for women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is likely to yield beneficial results[i]. In a 2018 study, subjects were given either a placebo for 12 weeks or a dose 50,000 IU vitamin D every 2 weeks plus a daily dose of 2000 mg of fish oil. The researchers found that compared with the placebo, those who received Vitamin D and fish oil registered better scores when it came to general health, depression anxiety, and stress scales. Meanwhile, taking the supplements also led to significant benefits in the subjects, including decreasing serum total testosterone, and increasing plasma total antioxidant capacity levels.
A number of recent studies reveal that fish oil and vitamin D may provide additional benefits in terms of mental wellness and general disposition, both for PCOS patients and pregnant women. After examining previous findings on the link between serotonin and patients with mental conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and impulsive behavior, researchers suggest that due to their role in modulating serotonin synthesis, release, and function, vitamin D and fish oil can improve the cognitive processes and behavior of such patients[ii]. Based on these findings, taking vitamin D and fish oil supplements may greatly benefit PCOS patients, who are more prone to mood disorders. Keeping serotonin levels high prepares us to better handle any sudden bouts of depression or anxiety.
Research also shows that alongside a diet low in animal fat, fish oil and vitamin D appear to be the most promising potential anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective agents when it comes to both relapsing and progressive forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), which is an autoimmune disease[iii]. This finding could very well prove to be relevant to PCOS patients, since there is increasing evidence that PCOS may be considered an autoimmune disease as well.
Both vitamin D and fish oil were closely examined in a 2017 study[iv] in terms of their capacity to prevent and manage hypertension. The researchers suggested that, due to their impact in reducing blood pressure levels, both vitamin D and fish oil could be excellent additions to one’s daily diet as supplementary nutrients. Further research is needed to fully understand why and how these nutrients aid in preventing hypertension. At any rate, these findings support the theory that vitamin D and fish oil supplements can play a key role in minimizing the risk of pre-eclampsia, a pregnancy-specific condition characterized by hypertension and proteinuria.
Lastly, a recent study[v] took a closer look at the specific effects of vitamin D and fish oil co- supplementation on inflammation, oxidative stress, and pregnancy outcomes in female patients with gestational diabetes. It was found that in the patients who participated, those who received vitamin D and fish oil as co-supplementation over a 6-week period registered fewer instances of hyperbilirubinemia and hospitalization among newborns, lower levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, a higher total antioxidant capacity, and increased levels of glutathione. In other words, taking vitamin D and fish oil during pregnancy has been strongly linked to better health, not just for the mother but also for the child.
As you can see, current research is increasingly pointing to the value of vitamin D and fish oil as co-supplements, whether for PCOS or for pregnancy. I encourage all women to talk to their health care providers about adding both supplements to their regimen.
Amy Medling, best-selling author of Healing PCOS and certified health coach, specializes in working with women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), who are frustrated and have lost all hope when the only solution their doctors offer is to lose weight, take a pill, and live with their symptoms. In response, Amy founded PCOS Diva and developed a proven protocol of supplements, diet, and lifestyle programs that offer women tools to help gain control of their PCOS and regain their fertility, femininity, health, and happiness.
[i] Jamilian M, Samimi M, Mirhosseini N et al. The influences of vitamin D and omega-3 co-supplementation on clinical, metabolic and genetic parameters in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2018;38:32-38. 10.1016/j.jad.2018.05.027
[ii] Patrick R, Ames B. Vitamin D and the omega-3 fatty acids control serotonin synthesis and action, part 2: relevance for ADHD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and impulsive behavior. The FASEB Journal. 2015;29(6):2207-2222. 10.1096/fj.14-268342
[iii] Penesova A, Dean Z, Kollar B et al. Nutritional intervention as an essential part of Multiple Sclerosis treatment? Physiol Res. 2018. http://www.biomed.cas.cz/physiolres/pdf/prepress/933694.pdf Accessed July 27, 2018.
[iv] Amoh-Mensah Kofi, Ankomah S, Kusiwaa Karikari Akua, Arthur J. Prevention of Hypertension: A critical review of the Health benefits of Salt, Garlic, Fish Oil, Chocolate and Vitamin D. International Journal of Medical Sciences and Technology. 2017;7(7):38-46. 974-5343.
[v] Jamilian M, Samimi M, Mirhosseini N et al. The influences of vitamin D and omega-3 co-supplementation on clinical, metabolic and genetic parameters in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2018;38:32-38. 10.1016/j.jad.2018.05.027
Razavi M, Jamilian M, Samimi M et al.The effects of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids co-supplementation on biomarkers of inflammation, oxidative stress and pregnancy outcomes in patients with gestational diabetes. Nutrition & Metabolism. 2017;14(80). 10.1186/s12986-017-0236-9