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Supplement use is common in women with PCOS, a common condition impacting the ovaries. However, despite many different supplements that women may try to use to treat PCOS, scientific data is much stronger for the use of some than others. We have investigated scientific journals and clinical trials for the most reliable information about supplements for PCOS and have identified the top 6 PCOS supplements on Amazon.
What is PCOS?
Polycystic ovarian syndrome, also known as PCOS, is a health problem impacting between 6% and 12% of women. The condition involves the ovaries, the part of the female reproductive system that produces eggs that are released on a monthly basis. Under normal circumstances, the egg is either fertilized by sperm and the woman becomes pregnant, or the egg and the lining of the uterus is shed every month, leading to a menstrual period. However, in PCOS, the egg often does not develop normally, or is not released during ovulation.
What are the symptoms of PCOS?
PCOS has many symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms include:
-Irregular menstrual periods: Missed or irregular periods make it difficult to become pregnant. For this reason, PCOS is one of the most common causes of female infertility. Some women may not even know that they have PCOS until they have a hard time getting pregnant and go to see their doctor.
-Cysts in the ovaries: Cysts are small fluid-filled sacs in the ovaries and give PCOS its name. Women with PCOS may have cysts in just one of their ovaries, or in both. However, it is just because someone has cysts on their ovaries does not necessarily mean they have PCOS.
-Hair loss on the head: Thinning hair, male-pattern baldness, or hair loss on the scalp, may occur in PCOS.
-Acne: Pimples on the upper body, especially the face, chest and upper back, are common in PCOS.
-Oily skin: Besides acne, the skin may be more oily than normal.
-Abnormal skin darkening: The skin may look darker than normal in the neck creases, groin and below the breasts.
-Abnormal skin thickening: Patches of skin that is thicker than normal is a common symptom of PCOS.
-Skin tags: Small flaps of skin that grow in the armpits or around the neck may occur in PCOS.
What causes PCOS?
PCOS is due to a hormone imbalance that develops during or after puberty and begins as early as age 11 or 12. Experts are not sure exactly why these hormone imbalances occur. However, doctors think that factors that lead to PCOS include:
-Genetics: Women who have a mother, aunt or sister with PCOS are more likely to get the disorder. This makes doctors suspect there may be a genetic link to PCOS.
-High levels of male hormones: Male hormones, also called androgens, are made in all the ovaries and adrenal glands of women. However, in most women, androgens are kept to very low levels. Women with PCOS have androgens at higher than normal levels. These excessive androgens cause the facial hair, acne, male-pattern baldness, and ovulation problems linked to PCOS.
-High insulin levels: Insulin is a hormone that converts the food you eat into energy for the cells in your body. However, when a person makes too much insulin, the cells in the body become less responsive to insulin, a condition known as insulin resistance. To try to overcome this, the body makes even more insulin, leading to abnormally high insulin levels. These high insulin levels and insulin resistance are common in PCOS, especially in women who are overweight, do not eat a healthy diet, do not exercise, and have a family history of type 2 diabetes. In fact, up to 70% of women with PCOS have insulin resistance. Insulin resistance can cause type 2 diabetes over time.
What are the risk factors for PCOS?
Risk factors for PCOS include:
-Having a close female relative with the condition
Having PCOS is also linked to other health conditions, such as:
-High blood pressure
-High cholesterol levels, especially LDL cholesterol, also known as bad cholesterol
What supplements can help treat PCOS?
Researchers have studied many different vitamins and supplements, hoping to find out what effect they may have on PCOS. Some of the best-studied supplements with the most data supporting their use are:
-Inositol: Also known as Vitamin B8, inositol is a component of cell membranes throughout the body. As a supplement, it is one of the best-studied agents for PCOS and has some of the strongest data supporting its use compared with other supplements. Multiple studies have been conducted on inositol at dose ranges of between 600 mg and 2 grams daily. Studies have found improved:
–Ovulation: Women who took inositol had more than 3 times the number of ovulations that women who did not in some studies.
–Insulin levels: Both fasting insulin and insulin resistance were improved in women who took inositol in some studies.
–Cholesterol levels: Both total cholesterol levels and triglycerides have were improved in studies in women who took inositol.
–Inflammation: Improved inflammation as indicated by lower blood levels of the inflammatory marker c-reactive protein, or CRP, was found in a study of women who took inositol.
–Blood sugar levels: Fasting blood sugar was improved in women who took inositol in multiple studies.
–Male hormone levels: Multiple studies have found decreases in the levels of testosterone, androstenedione, and sex hormone-binding globulin, or SHBG, in women who took inositol.
–Pregnancy rates: In several studies, women who took inositol had pregnancy rates nearly 3 times higher than women who did not take an inositol supplement.
–Weight loss: Some studies showed weight loss in women on inositol supplements.
Inositol comes in nine different chemical forms, including:
Of all of these inositol forms, myo-inositol and d-chiro-inositol are two of the best studied in PCOS. Myo-inositol, in fact, is the most common kind of inositol in the human body. Normally, the body converts myo-inositol into di-chiro-inositol. Some women with PCOS have trouble converting myo-inositol into di-chiro-inositol, especially if diabetes runs in their family. For this reason, some women prefer to take a combination supplement of both myo-inositol and d-chiro-inositol, instead of myo-inositol alone. Researchers have found that in women who take both myo-inositol and d-chiro-inositol, the combination should be taken in a ratio of 40 to 1 for best results. At other ratios, the ovaries can start to develop immature egg cells, which interferes with the ability of inositol to help PCOS symptoms. Although myo-inositol can be taken on its own or with di-chiro-inositol, doctors have found that di-chiro-inositol should not be taken on its own for PCOS.
-Omega-3 fish oils: Improved cholesterol levels have been linked to omega-3 fish oil use in women with PCOS. Doses of omega-3s in studies have varied from 258 mg EPA and 242 mg DHA to 720 mg EPA and 480 mg DHA.
-Selenium: Selenium levels are often decreased in women with PCOS. Further, when selenium levels are low, male hormone levels tend to be increased and vice versa. One study found that selenium supplements improved blood sugar, insulin resistance and male hormone levels in women with PCOS. Another study found that selenium 200 micrograms daily, when given with a probiotic, helped mood, excess hair growth, male hormone levels.
-Vitamin E: In one study, women who took vitamin E 400 IU and omega-3 fatty acids 1000 mg daily had an improvement in both insulin resistance and male hormone levels. Another study found that women who took vitamin E along with coenzyme q10 had an improvement in SHBG levels.
-Alpha-lipoic acid: A study showed that alpha-lipoic acid may help regulate menstrual cycles, decrease ovarian cysts, and improve hormone levels and insulin resistance in women with PCOS.
-Cimicifuga racemosa: One study compared the use of the herb cimicifuga racemosa combined with the prescription drug clomiphene against clomiphene alone. Ovulation, pregnancy rates, hormone levels, and miscarriage rates were improved when cimicifuga racemosa was combined with clomiphene, which is also known by the brand name Clomid.
-Mentha spicata: One study compared the herb mentha spicata to chamomile tea. The study showed that testosterone levels decreased in women who took mentha spicata.
Why we love it: EZ Melts provides myo-inositol 500 mg in a cherry-flavored tablet that can either be chewed or allowed to dissolve in the mouth.
The recommended dose is one EZ Melt per day. As a bottle contains 60 EZ melts, a single bottle will last 2 months. Other ingredients include mannitol, xylitol, modified cellulose, natural flavor, natural color, plant-based magnesium stearate, and citric acid.
The product is made in the United States and is free of sugar, gluten, dyes, and artificial colors and flavors. Further, the product is vegan-friendly and is non-GMO, meaning that it contains no genetically modified organisms.
Amazon users tend to like this product and give it high ratings, stating that the tablets taste great.
Why we love it: Wholesome Story mixes myo-inositol and d-chiro inositol in the recommended 40:1 ratio in this product.
Myo-inositol is present in the product at a dose of 2000 mg while d-chiro inositol is present at a dose of 50 mg.
The product comes as capsules which should be taken four times once a day, preferably with a meal. If you cannot tolerate taking that many capsules at once, the package labeling gives you the option of taking two capsules twice a day instead. As a bottle contains 120 capsules, a single bottle will last for a month.
The product is made in the USA and carries a label stating that it is CGMP-certified, meaning that it is manufactured in a facility that complies with the FDA’s current good manufacturing practices. Other ingredients include a vegetable cellulose capsule, formulated from plant-based hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, or HPMC, making the product all-natural. The HPMC is sourced from pine and/or poplar trees.
As such, the product is vegan-friendly. In addition, it is free of dyes, gluten, dairy, soy, and artificial fillers and binders. Further, the bottle can be recycled, making it an environmentally sustainable product as well.
Amazon users like this product, with one stating that she noticed a reduction in facial hair within a few weeks. Other users noted that their insulin resistance improved and they started getting their periods.
Users also state that the capsules are easy to swallow.
Some users stated that they successfully opened the capsules to mix with beverages, although the manufacturer also carries a powder-based version of the same product.
Why we love it: Amazing Formulas provides a myo-inositol product that provides 1000 mg of myo-inositol with each dose. The recommended dose is one tablet once daily with a meal. As a bottle contains 120 tablets, a single bottle will last 4 months.
The product is CGMP-certified and carries a label to that effect, meaning that it complies with the FDA’s current good manufacturing processes. It is also made in the USA and is non-GMO, meaning that it contains no genetically modified ingredients. It contains no preservatives, artificial colors, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, sugar, milk, lactose, gluten, wheat, yeast, or fish.
Amazon users like this product, stating that the tablets are large but are easy to swallow. One user with PCOS stated that she started noticing an improvement in her PCOS symptoms after a week of taking this product. Other users concur, with one stating that she got her period within a few days of starting this supplement.
Why we love it: Despite the name, this Pure Encapsulations product does not come in capsule form.
Rather, this product is a powdered form of myo-inositol. The dose is 2 scoops once or twice daily with water, providing about 4.2 grams of myo-inositol per serving.
Of note, the seller states that it may be mixed with other beverages as well, including smoothies and coffee. It may be taken with or without food. As the jar is 250 grams and contains 60 servings per container, a single jar will last 1 to 2 months.
The product is free of gluten, wheat, dairy, soy, yeast, sugar, starch, preservatives, hydrogenated oils, artificial colors, artificial flavors, fillers, and corn. The product is also non-GMO, meaning that it contains no genetically modified ingredients. It is also vegan-friendly.
Of note, the jar contains a desiccant to absorb moisture and maintain the freshness of the powder. The manufacturer recommends that users leave the desiccant packet inside the jar for this reason. Of note, although the product is manufactured in the United States, the raw material is sourced from China and tested for identity, potency, and contaminants after being imported.
The packaging is made from high-density polyethylene, a BPA-free substance that is considered safe for food and drink containers. Amazon users tend to like this product, with some saying it has a naturally light sweet taste and has helped with PCOS symptoms, including menstruation.
Why we love it: Simple Organics combines myo-inositol and d-chiro-inositol in the 40:1 ratio that researchers recommend.
One dose provides 2000 mg of myo-inositol and 50 mg of d-chiro-inositol. A dose is 4 capsules once daily with a meal.
The product comes in a vegetarian capsule made from vegetable cellulose. As a bottle contains 120 capsules, a single bottle will last one month. The product is all natural and is free of soy, gluten, dairy, and fillers.
It is also non-GMO, meaning that it has no genetically modified ingredients. It contains no animal products and, therefore, is vegan-friendly. It is made in the USA and carries a CGMP label, meaning that the manufacturer complies with the FDA’s good manufacturing practices. The product comes in a recyclable bottle, making it environmentally friendly. Amazon users like this product, saying that the capsules are easy to swallow.
Women with PCOS state that the product helps them manage their PCOS symptoms, including facial hair and menstruation.
Why we love it: Ombibiotics’s supplement combines myo-inositol and d-chiro-inositol in the 40:1 ratio that doctors recommend.
A dose of the product contains 2000 mg myo-inositol and 50 mg di-chiro-inositol. As a bottle contains 120 capsules and a dose is 4 capsules once daily with a meal, a bottle will last one month.
Of note, the d-chiro-inositol in the product is sourced from carob root and purified using a patented process. The product also contains vegetable cellulose for the veggie caps, and rice flour. The product is made in the USA and carries a CGMP label, meaning it meets the FDA’s certified good manufacturing processes.
The product is free of GMOs, or genetically modified ingredients. It also contains no animal by-products, artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, sugar, preservatives, starch, milk, lactose, gluten, wheat, yeast, fish, or sodium.
Amazon users generally like this product, stating the capsules are easy to swallow and do not leave an aftertaste.
That said, the capsules are approximately 2 centimeters in length. As an alternative to swallowing the whole capsules, you can take 2 capsules twice daily. The capsules can be opened and sprinkled into a beverage.
Many users with PCOS stated that the product helped control their PCOS symptoms, including improving insulin resistance, facial hair, and menstrual cycle problems.
A PCOS diagnosis can be overwhelming, and it can be challenging to try to manage PCOS symptoms on your own.
Luckily, certain supplements like inositol have been well-researched and may be able to help.
By working with your doctor to help control complications from PCOS, you can live a full life free from bothersome PCOS symptoms.