Women with PCOS should get their vitamin D levels checked ASAP
(What is vitamin D?) Vitamin D or cholecalciferol is the active form of vitamin D (D3) in the body. The conversion of UVB rays from the sun with a form of cholesterol in the skin, form a precursor to active D3 in the body. Cholecalciferol (active vitamin D), is formed after some changes are made to the precursor vitamin D in both the liver and kidneys.
Vitamin D has many functions in the body; commonly known for its immune-supporting properties and ability to balance calcium in the blood (contributing to bone health), vitamin D levels have also been linked to women’s health and PCOS outcomes.
How does vitamin D levels in the body affect PCOS outcomes?
The short story is, the hormonal imbalances in PCOS contribute to the development of a lot of inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. Vitamin D helps to decrease this inflammation with its anti-oxidant effects.
A study demonstrated that, when compared to controls, women with PCOS had lower serum vitamin D. Lower levels of vitamin D are associated with higher HOMA-IR (a marker that denotes insulin resistance in the body), and less favourable lipid levels in the blood. Women with both PCOS and who were deficient in vitamin D are more likely to have glucose dysregulation, increased levels of fasting blood sugar, thus, poor insulin resistance outcomes.
Another study found that supplementing vitamin D in women with PCOS, improved their hs-CRP (a marker for inflammation) and TAC (total antioxidant capacity).
Supplementing with vitamin D can improve insulin sensitivity, antioxidant capacity, and decrease inflammation, in women with hormonal imbalance and polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Women with PCOS should get their vitamin D tested ASAP!
Now especially, as we head into the winter months, there is a lot less sun exposure (in the northern hemisphere) with the days becoming shorter. Individuals with high pigmentation in their skin produce less vitamin D and are prone to have decreased serum levels especially in the winter months. Women with PCOS, particularly those who live in climates with less sun exposure, should have their levels tested as soon as possible in the upcoming season. Knowing their patient’s serum levels helps the clinician adequately dose vitamin D such that a woman with PCOS may benefit from improved blood sugar control, less inflammation, and improved immune health.
Special considerations: A note on the dangers of overdosing:
Yes, it is totally possible to overdose on vitamin D. It is a fat-soluble hormone: it is stored in the body’s fat cells. (Unlike B-vitamins which are water-soluble and produce the most vibrant pee, one ever did see). Vitamin D toxicity (hypervitaminosis): the presence of vitamin D in serum is to increase the levels of calcium in the blood. Increased levels of vitamin D can lead to higher amounts of blood calcium which may cause symptoms of nausea, vomiting, urination, and weakness. It may also lead to kidney problems. This is usually rare but can be caused by significantly increased supplementation.
For the women who come see me in my practice, I run tests to assess their serum vitamin D levels prior to supplementing with higher doses (often when doing vitamin D injections). Knowing your levels is crucial in creating a treatment plan to replenish your stores, reduce your symptoms of PCOS, and improve your body’s insulin response.
Are vitamin D injections may be right for you? Book a virtual discovery session with me today!