If you haven’t read part one and part two of this three-part “Managing Your PCOS” series, I highly recommend you do before reading this final part! Supplements are merely the icing on the cake when it comes to managing PCOS, so upgrading your nutrition and lifestyle protocol first is the smartest, and in my opinion, the only way to approach it. After all, if you don’t have the foundations in place, you’ll be wasting all your money on supplements and ignoring the fundamentals that in the long run yield the most significant results.
PCOS and Supplements
That being said, I think there are some truly fantastic supplements on the market that can help fill in the gaps that nutrition and lifestyle can’t reach. There are supplements that mimic the mechanisms of popular PCOS medication, such as Metformin and Spironolactone, whilst others may help to nurture the adrenals glands and support your stress response or correct any nutritional deficiencies.
I cannot stress how important it is that you speak with a health care professional when it comes to supplementation. This article serves the purpose of education around certain supplements, but for best results and personalised supplement protocol that fits your needs, speak with your endocrinologist, nutritionist or naturopath.
What supplements could be of interest if I have PCOS?
A High-Quality Multivitamin for PCOS
There is a lot of discussion around whether or not a multivitamin is essential, but personally, I believe that the everyday stressors of modern life leave our bodies a little depleted in key vitamins and minerals. We need a full range of nutrients to support so many of the body’s different systems, from enzymatic pathways to the production of hormones themselves.
Furthermore, if you are on hormonal birth control for PCOS or have recently transitioned away from the contraception, there may be some nutritional deficiencies present.
For example, a good multi will contain all your B-vitamins, needed for healthy liver detoxification and to support your energy levels naturally, whilst zinc helps to slow down and keep that 5-alpha reductase pathway working the way it should be, key for PCOS. Magnesium is another key nutrient in PCOS, supporting blood sugar stabilisation, sleep quality and nervous system health. I could go on, but you get the idea.
Personally, my favourite multi at the moment is anatome’s Daily Wellbeing and Hormonal Support Complex. Garden of Life also has some fabulous options.
B Complex for detoxification
If a multi isn’t for you, a good B Complex could be another great option. As we just discussed, B Vitamins are required for phase 1 liver detoxification, part of a process that is absolutely essential for overall hormonal balance. They are also required for healthy hormone synthesis and particular enzymes too. Ensure that your supplement is methylated to get the most out of it, and if you’re having period problems related to low progesterone, consider opting for one with higher B6, such as Viridian.
Probiotic for the gut
As easy as it would be to take a probiotic and have all your gut and hormonal issues fixed, it isn’t that simple. A probiotic isn’t the magic pill needed for great gut health as they can often be made out to be. But it is a nice addition on top of an already gut-friendly diet and lifestyle. You can read all about why looking after the gut is key in PCOS and hormonal balance in part one, but ultimately, we want to make sure that you are excretion any toxins or unfavourable hormone metabolites effectively, as well as digesting and absorbing your food. OptiBac is my go-to and is cost-effective, perfect if you are just getting started with a probiotic.
Omega 3 for anti-inflammation
I find that omega 3 can be a little overlooked at times. Yet a lot of us simply do not get enough through diet alone. Your ratio of omega 3:omega 6 is paramount if tackling underlying inflammation within the body. Often an underlying driver of high androgens and PCOS symptoms. Not only is omega 3 anti-inflammatory, but a good balance of DHA and EPA that also supports brain health, cell membrane health and insulin sensitivity. It is especially important if you are trying to conceive. Bare Biology, in my opinion, come out top in terms of quality.
Myo-Inositol and D-Chrio Inositol for PCOS
Aside from a high-quality multivitamin and a probiotic. Inositol is up there with one of my favourites and arguably, the most effective PCOS supplement. Best in a 40:1 ratio of Myo-inositol to D-Chiro Inositol. This supplement can help to increase insulin sensitivity and support healthy blood sugar levels. It can also improve egg quality and regular menstrual cycles. As with all these supplements, it needs to be taken alongside a healthy diet and lifestyle practices.
Spearmint Tea + Saw Palmetto
We’ll bunch these two together, as their mechanisms are similar. Both spearmint tea (two cups daily) and saw palmetto can inhibit the enzyme 5 alpha-reductase. Which turns testosterone into DHT. An unfavourable type of androgen that is often part of the reason behind unwanted hair growth and acne. These products are enzyme inhibitors. Which means they can be great at reducing symptoms, but ultimately you still want to work on the underlying root causes.
Adaptogens for balancing your stress hormones
As discussed in part two, chronic stress is a driver for hormonal imbalances and can amplify symptoms in PCOS. Whilst I triumph actively putting in the hard work around your self-care routine (setting boundaries, baths, meditation etc). There are these nifty herbs that can support your stress response from the inside. Helping to balance stress hormones and thus, the rest of your hormones. You can supplement individual adaptogens, such as ashwagandha, Rhodiola and tulsi, or buy a blend that contains a mixture, easily added to smoothies.
Berberine and PCOS
Berberine is a plant compound that can be supplemented in case of PCOS. It supports healthy blood sugar levels and insulin as well and androgen regulation – often the culprit behind those unfavourable symptoms. It can be a great one for PCOS-driven acne alongside effectively balancing blood sugar through diet.
Resveratrol is a polyphenol, high in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. It may be great added extra to an already comprehensive PCOS protocol (also consider quercetin and turmeric!). And if you’re really zoning in on decreasing inflammation, but I wouldn’t make it your one and only supplement for PCOS. It can be useful for PCOS as it may lower androgens.
PCOS and Supplements Summary
These are just a few of the many supplements you can incorporate into your PCOS protocol. I find that ALA, NAC, glutamine and magnesium bisglycinate to also be effective supplements for PCOS yet require a little more attention. So working with a professional may be beneficial. My advice, after implementing the correct diet and lifestyle changes. Is to start correcting any nutritional deficiencies and support the gut, then add in the other supporting supplements.
Megan Hallett is a women’s health expert and nutrition coach and cookbook author. Megan specialises in women’s hormone health. Her work ranges from endocrine conditions such as PCOS and Hypothalamic Amenorrhea to addressing the root cause of symptoms including acne, PMS, hair loss, low mood and fatigue, to name a few.