PCOS Linked with Critical Nutrient Deficiencies in Women

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, commonly known as PCOS, is the most common hormonal disorder affecting women today. It is a common cause of infertility, and other unwanted symptoms such as irregular periods and weight gain. Research has shown that nutrient deficiencies can exacerbate these symptoms, and that women with PCOS are more likely to have nutrient deficiencies in some vitamins and minerals. This makes it crucial for women with PCOS to adopt a healthy and balanced diet.

Let's explore the connection between PCOS and nutrient deficiencies and learn about the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that are essential for women with PCOS.

Learn more about the integrative approach to PCOS treatment.

The nutritional landscape of PCOS

PCOS is a complex endocrine disorder that's characterized by hormonal imbalances, insulin resistance, and ovarian cysts. Recent research suggests that nutrient deficiencies play a crucial role in the development and management of PCOS (1).

For example, when women improved their micronutrient intake, they experienced a reduction in symptoms such as unwanted hair growth and fatigue (2). Diet and lifestyle changes are also effective to improve fertility in women with PCOS.

A well-balanced diet rich in all nutrients is key to alleviating PCOS symptoms, but there are some nutrients of special concern if you're dealing with PCOS.

Related: What Is PCOS? Signs & Symptoms

Vitamin D

Emerging research has unveiled a strong association between PCOS and vitamin D deficiency. A 2020 study found that women with PCOS were more likely to have vitamin D deficiency compared to those without the condition (3). 

Vitamin D deficiency may exacerbate insulin resistance and contribute to PCOS symptoms. Insulin resistance causes the body to produce more insulin to control blood sugar, leading to high levels of insulin in the body. Adequate vitamin D levels support healthy insulin sensitivity.

Vitamin D also appears to play a role in the regulation of menstrual cycles. Another study found that women with regular cycles had significantly higher vitamin D levels, and lower vitamin D was associated with 13 times the odds of having an irregular cycle (4).

Read more: The Nutritional Supplement Guide: Benefits, Dosages, & Facts 


Women with PCOS are 19 times more likely to have a magnesium deficiency, according to a study in Gynecology Endocrinology (5).

Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a significant role in nearly 300 chemical reactions in the body, as well as helping to maintain insulin sensitivity. Magnesium can improve glucose metabolism and insulin resistance, two hallmarks of PCOS. 

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Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that have numerous health benefits, including reducing inflammation. Women with PCOS tend to have higher levels of inflammation, leading to various symptoms such as insulin resistance and irregular periods. Women with PCOS who consume Omega-3 fatty acids are more likely to experience menstrual cycle regularity, reduced androgen levels, and improved insulin resistance (6).


Folate, or B9, plays a role in hormone balance, in addition to mood, metabolism, and detoxification. Some women with PCOS may have lower folate levels. Adequate folate intake can help support hormonal balance. Folate can also help reduce homocysteine levels, which are often elevated in women with PCOS (7). High homocysteine levels can be detrimental to fertility and may increase the risk of miscarriage.

When supplementing with this B vitamin, look for the metabolically active methylfolate instead of synthetic folic acid for enhanced uptake by the body.

Related: Preventing Folate Deficiency on a Gluten Free Diet


Inositol is a naturally occurring compound that belongs to the B-vitamin family, and plays a role in regulating hormones like luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which are involved in the menstrual cycle. According to randomized controlled studies involving inositol supplementation in women with PCOS, inositol improves almost all symptoms associated with PCOS including decreasing androgen levels, improving insulin sensitivity, fertility, and helping to manage weight (8). 

Hormone Helper contains 1500 mg of myoinositol per serving, as well as saw palmetto and other nutrients to support optimal hormone balance with PCOS.

Treating PCOS with functional medicine involves a healthy diet

PCOS can feel overwhelming if you don’t know where to start to effectively address symptoms.

Functional medicine focuses on an integrative approach to treating the root causes of PCOS, rather than merely suppressing symptoms. A combination of dietary and lifestyle changes is often recommended to treat PCOS and reduce metabolic risk factors.

With an integrative approach you have the power to effectively treat PCOS symptoms to improve quality of life, fertility, and hormonal health.

Dietary strategies to address nutrient deficiencies in PCOS

A healthy diet of quality proteins, nutrient-dense fruits & vegetables, and healthy fats is an important part of effective treatment for PCOS symptoms. To get what you need, focus on the following.

Vitamin D-rich foods

Include foods like fatty fish, fortified dairy or dairy alternatives, and egg yolks in your diet to boost vitamin D intake. Vitamin D supplementation is also simple, effective, and affordable.

Sun exposure is also a natural source of vitamin D.

Magnesium sources

Incorporate magnesium-rich foods such as nuts, seeds, leafy greens, and whole grains into your meals. Leafy greens are also a great source of folate.

Many times it’s necessary to add a magnesium supplement to your routine to meet optimal intake (9). A magnesium chelate or magnesium glycinate is easy to digest.

Omega-3 foods

Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines, and bivalves like oysters are great sources of omega-3 fats. Flaxseeds and chia seeds offer plant-based sources of omega-3s but are nowhere near as well-utilized by the body as fish sources.

Foods highest in inositol

Orange, grapefruit, and lime have some of the highest inositol levels available in fruits, and cantaloupe is also a good source, providing about 350 mg per serving (10). 

The Power of diet in PCOS management

Emerging studies are now shedding light on the significant impact of diet on PCOS symptoms. Research published in the International Journal of Endocrinology demonstrated that a low-carb diet, rich in whole foods, improved insulin sensitivity and lowered androgen levels in women with PCOS (11).

One meta-analysis concluded that a low glycemic index (GI) diet can improve insulin resistance and weight loss in women with PCOS (12). A low GI diet is one that focuses on consuming foods that do not cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels, such as fruits & vegetables, healthy fats, and proteins Another study found that a high-protein diet could help reduce weight and insulin resistance in women with PCOS (12).

With this evidence in mind, it seems clear that reducing a high carbohydrate intake is likely the key to reducing PCOS symptoms for most people who experience symptoms.

Navigating the PCOS-Nutrition Connection

Inadequate levels of certain nutrients can exacerbate symptoms of PCOS and its underlying mechanisms including insulin resistance, inflammation, and high androgen levels. It is essential to maintain a healthy and balanced diet or supplement with necessary vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to alleviate the effects of PCOS.

Understanding the link between PCOS and nutrient deficiencies opens up new possibilities for effective management. While diet and supplements can be powerful tools, it’s crucial to approach these changes under the guidance of a healthcare professional. By addressing nutrient deficiencies through informed dietary choices, you can take proactive steps toward managing symptoms and improving overall quality of life and hormonal balance.


  1. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/13/7/2452 
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8643565/
  3. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fendo.2020.00171/full 
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8717082/ 
  5. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/09513590.2011.579663
  6. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2405457722005253 
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6250088/ 
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22296306/ 
  9. https://openheart.bmj.com/content/5/1/e000668 
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7416064/ 
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8600081/


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