Women with PCOS appear to be prone to vitamin D deficiency. A lack of it may contribute to some of the biochemical abnormalities seen with polycystic ovarian syndrome.
In a study of 13 women with PCOS, five were found to have obvious vitamin D deficiency and three others had borderline-low vitamin D status. All 13 women were then treated with vitamin D and calcium.
Of the nine women with absent or irregular menstruation prior to vitamin D treatment, seven experienced normalization of their menstrual cycles within two months and the other two became pregnant. Dysfunctional uterine bleeding also came to an end.
Low vitamin D has been linked to classic conditions associated with PCOS, such as insulin resistance, obesity and fatty liver degeneration. Functions of vitamin D include improved insulin sensitivity, better bone health, reduction of inflammation and longer lifespan.
If you shun the sun, suffer from milk allergies or adhere to a strict vegetarian diet, you may be at risk for vitamin D deficiency. Known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is produced by the body in response to sunlight. It is also occurs naturally in a few foods — including some fish, fish liver oils, and egg yolks - and in fortified dairy and grain products.
Vitamin D is essential for strong bones because it helps the body use calcium. Traditionally, vitamin D deficiency has also been associated with rickets - a disease in which the bone tissue doesn’t properly mineralize, leading to soft bones and skeletal deformities.
Increasingly, however, research is also revealing the importance of vitamin D in protecting against a host of health problems such as thyroid trouble, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance and multiple-sclerosis.
Symptoms of bone pain and muscle weakness can mean you have a vitamin D deficiency. But for many people, the symptoms are subtle. Yet even without symptoms, too little vitamin D can pose health risks. Low blood levels of the vitamin have been associated with the following:
Next week we’ll look at how to fight back against vitamin D deficiency.