Top 3 Supplements for PCOS

Find out which three supplements Dr. Cutler recommends the most frequently for her clients with PCOS, and why.

FAQ: What supplements Should I take for PCOS?

This is one of my most frequently asked questions from people with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) on social media. My answer will depend on the type of PCOS you have, your symptoms, your lifestyle, possible deficiencies, and other factors. However, there are three supplements that come out on top in terms of high-quality research, benefits, and little likelihood of harm.

It is important to state that managing PCOS is complex and therefore requires a combination of supplements and lifestyle changes. As their name implies, supplements are merely a ‘supplement’ to a healthy lifestyle grounded in sound nutrition, daily movement, adequate sleep and rest, stress management, a support network, and mindset work. Always make supplemental choices and doses with your own current healthcare provider.

MAGNESIUM

Women with PCOS are up to 19 times more likely to be deficient in magnesium than the rest of the population. While we’re not sure why this is, it is concerning because low levels of magnesium can increase our risk of type 2 diabetes. Women with PCOS are already at increased risk of developing diabetes!

During my PhD, I published a clinical study in Food Science & Nutrition which assessed dietary intake in women with and without PCOS. One of the findings was that magnesium intake was decreased in women with insulin-resistant PCOS. Also, the more magnesium that women with PCOS consumed, the lower their testosterone and inflammation were.

Supplementing can benefit in several ways. There is plenty of research on the benefits of magnesium for the general population which may also apply for PCOS. Studies have shown magnesium can help address insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, improve sleep, reduce anxiety, improve PMS symptoms, and lower blood pressure. These are all commonly seen and experienced by women with PCOS.

Natural Calm Magnesium Iced Tea
Photo by Dylan Cutler

I supplement with Natural Calm magnesium citrate to ensure I am consuming enough magnesium each day. The raspberry-lemon flavor makes a delicious hot or iced tea (recipe here)! The recommended daily amount of magnesium for a women over 19 is 320 mg a day.

Disclosure: I receive a small commission when the following products mentioned are purchased through my links (thank you!). This allows me to provide you free articles and social media content daily. I only work with brands I adore and use myself.

Omega-3

Along with the brain and mood-boosting benefits that omega-3 fats are known for, like reducing anxiety and depression (previously discussed here), they also have specific implications for women with PCOS.

Supplementing with omega-3 may help regulate periods and decrease testosterone. Omega-3 can also lower reproductive hormones such as LH and the LH to FSH ratio (typically increased in PCOS). Finally, omega-3 has been shown to increase adiponectin which is an anti-inflammatory cytokine.

Photo by Tatyana Nekrasova

I supplement with an algae-based omega-3 supplement instead of a fish oil supplement as fish oil can be contaminated with environmental pollutants, such as mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). I take these plant-based sugar-free omega-3 gummies (15% off code: DylanCutler15).

Vitamin D

Women with PCOS are more likely to have lower levels of vitamin D than women without PCOS. These low levels have even been linked to insulin resistance, obesity, infertility, and hirsutism associated with PCOS.

Studies show that when women with PCOS supplement with vitamin D, insulin and glucose levels seem to improve, inflammation subsides, and testosterone decreases.

While the best source of vitamin D is the sun, this option is limited if we live in the Northern hemisphere, wear sunscreen, or stay indoors. Therefore, supplementing can help.

Photo by Brian Garcia

When choosing a vitamin D supplement, look for D3 and at least 1500-2000 IU a day (recommended by The Endocrine Practice Committee). For vegans, be aware that some D3 supplements are vegan while others aren’t. I take a vitamin D plus B12 together (15% off code: DylanCutler15) as B12 is a must to supplement for vegans (and even some vegetarians and carnivores).

This article is sponsored by Natural Calm Canada.

In health, Dr. Dylan Cutler

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Top 3 Supplements for PCOS

Disclaimer: Nutritional and supplemental choices should be made in consultation with your current health care provider.

How to Support Your Immune System with Magnesium, Meditation, and More

Learn how your daily habits can support your immune system.

When cold and flu season rolls around each year, we can often feel fearful and helpless. As someone with health anxiety, I know these feelings very well.

However, the best way I’ve found to stay healthy, both physically and mentally, is to act on what I can control, and let the rest go.

I do this by supporting my immune system on a daily basis. Our immune system can be compromised under several circumstances including:

  • not sleeping enough,
  • eating suboptimally,
  • with young or older age,
  • having underlying health conditions often beyond our control, or
  • when experiencing high stress.

What are some habits for Maintaining our immune systems?

  • aim for 7-9 hours of sleep a night
  • regularly exercise lightly to moderately
    • strenuous exercise can weaken our immune system
  • manage stress through yoga or meditation
    • studies have found that people who regularly practice mindfulness meditation get sick less often
  • avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine
  • stay hydrated
  • eat lots of fruits and vegetables
  • avoid processed foods
  • quit smoking
  • keep vaccinations up-to-date, when eligible and accessible (talk to your doctor)
  • maintain hand hygiene

Vitamins and Minerals to Support Immunity

Whole food, plant-based nutrition play a big role in supporting our immune system. I’ve listed key vitamins and minerals along with their food sources. In some cases, vitamins and minerals can be depleted, and therefore, supplementation can be helpful. However, supplements and dosage should be reviewed with your current healthcare provider first.

Whole Foods to Boost Your Immunity

Disclosure: I receive a small commission when the following products mentioned are purchased through my links. This allows me to provide you free articles and social media content daily (thank you!). I only work with brands I adore and use myself.

Vitamin A

  • found in carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, cantaloupe, & squash
  • supplementation may be important for people with conditions like pancreatic disease, eye disease, or measles
Vitamin A for Our Immune System

B Vitamins

  • B6 found in garlic, chickpeas, potatoes, bananas, bulgar, avocado, & squash
  • B9 (or folate) found in beans, peas, leafy greens, & enriched grains
    • supplementing with folic acid is important during pre-conception & pregnancy
  • B12 found in fortified cereals, fortified plant milks, and fish
    • vegans/vegetarians often require a B12 supplement since B12 is only found in animal products
Vitamin Bs for Immunity

Vitamin C

  • found in oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, bell peppers, spinach, kale, Brussel sprouts, & tomatoes
  • people with metabolic syndrome may need more vitamin C
  • for additional support during flu season, I choose to supplement with Herbaland Gummies Vitamin C (15% off code: DylanCutler15)

Vitamin D

  • the best source is the sun
  • not highly abundant in food so supplementing is recommended for most people who don’t get daily sun exposure
  • I supplement with Herbaland Gummies Vitamin D + B12 (15% off code: DylanCutler15)
Vitamin D to Boost Your Immune System

Vitamin E

  • found in nuts, sunflower seeds, spinach, broccoli, & avocado
  • more than 90% of Americans do not consume adequate vitamin E

Magnesium

  • found in avocado, leafy greens, almonds, brown rice, soy, & tofu
  • depleted by stress, exercise, high saturated fat intake, high sugar intake, excess calcium, some diseases & aging
  • I supplement with Natural Calm magnesium powder before bed to help relax and improve my sleep
Vitamin E for Immunity

Zinc

  • found in beans, chickpeas, lentils, root vegetables, chia seeds, hemp seeds, quinoa & almonds
  • depletion can occur in people with digestive disorders, diabetes, and other conditions
Zinc for Immunity

Iron

  • found in beans, broccoli, kale, lentils, cashews, quinoa, & raisins
  • often depleted from menstruation so supplementing may be advisable if you have anemia

Selenium

  • found in garlic, broccoli, barley, brazil nuts, & walnuts
  • depleted by living near soils of low selenium, digestive disorders (like Crohn’s), dialysis, or having HIV
Garlic to Boost Immunity

Adding more of these foods into your diet may help, along with stress management, getting a good night’s rest tonight, and reaching out for support whenever feeling overwhelmed.

In health,

Dr. Dylan Cutler

This article is sponsored by Natural Calm Canada.

How to Naturally Boost Your Immune System with Magnesium, Meditation, and More

Disclaimer: As the sole author of Phruitful Dish, I have based my posts on my own experiences and personal knowledge. However, I am not a medical doctor. The information in this blog is not intended as medical advice, and it is not endorsed by my employers or institutions I am affiliated with. Nutritional and supplemental choices should be made in consultation with your health care provider. This blog is intended to inspire and encourage readers to educate themselves on how nutrition and lifestyle are important and often overlooked aspects of health. Therefore, please use the information at your own risk. Occasional links may be provided leading to third party websites. The existence of these links does not infer a responsibility or an endorsement of the linked site, its operator, or its contents.

7 Evidence-Based Ways to Get a Better Sleep Tonight

Quality sleep is greatly underrated in terms of our health and well-being. Dr. Cutler shares her top strategies and tips for a better night’s sleep.

When it comes to our health we often focus on nutrition and exercise, which are great, but if we are not providing our body with adequate rest, our efforts may go unnoticed. Studies show that 1 in 3 adults don’t sleep enough. I am sharing my top strategies and tips for a better night’s sleep.

7 Evidence-Backed Ways to a Better Sleep Tonight
Made in Canva.

1. Establish sleep stability

Generally, we want to be waking and sleeping at the same time each day. This is important because our bodies follow a circadian rhythm. When our circadian rhythm is disrupted, several outcomes may occur including unintentional weight gain, increases in leptin (the hunger hormone) and insulin, increased impulsivity, and slower cognitive responses.

7 Evidence-Backed Ways to a Better Sleep Tonight

Our sleep-wake circadian rhythm is highly based on light. Opening the blinds in the morning upon waking can help increase wakefulness in the day, and sleep quality at night.

2. Avoid substances like caffeine and alcohol in the evening

We are each affected by caffeine differently, so this is something we each need to experiment with. Recent research actually found that coffee and tea consumption before bed didn’t affect sleep, much to my surprise! Meanwhile, alcohol and nicotine before bed did disrupt sleep.

7 Evidence-Based Ways to Get a Better Sleep Tonight

Personally, I know caffeine can provoke anxiety, so I keep it to a minimum. Try a calming tea instead like chamomile, ashwagandha*, or turmeric.

*Some people should take caution when using herbs, including ashwagandha, so always confirm with your healthcare provider first.

3. Turn off electronics 1-2 hours before bed

You may be hearing a lot about blue light lately. We are exposed to blue light from light sources like the sun, lightbulbs, and electronics. During the day sunlight is very beneficial. However, the blue light from our electronic devices, which most of us are using in the evening, may impair our production of melatonin. Melatonin is critical for sleep. One study found that evening blue light exposure decreased sleep quality. Opting for a book, music, or a podcast in the evening can limit our blue light exposure.

If being on devices is a must, there are programs available that can block blue light, such as F.lux or night mode on our phones. However, we don’t have studies yet to determine how effective these programs are. Blue light blocking glasses are available, too, which experts think may be more effective than screen programs.

7 Evidence-Backed Ways to a Better Sleep Tonight

4. Consider magnesium and/or CBD oil supplementation**

Magnesium supplementation can have several benefits including more restful sleep. One symptom of magnesium deficiency can be insomnia or restless sleep. Magnesium helps maintain GABA production which is essential for relaxation and sleep. A few studies have shown that magnesium can improve insomnia. In addition, magnesium intake has been positively associated with depression (a known factor in insomnia). I stir magnesium powder in cold water or hot tea before I crawl into bed to wind down for sleep.

7 Evidence-Based Ways to Get a Better Sleep Tonight
Foods high in magnesium include leafy greens, avocado, bananas, nuts, and seeds.

CBD, or cannabidiol, contains cannabinoids, which are important players in our body’s endocannabinoid system. CBD oil is non-psychoactive but may help regulate mood. One endocannabinoid, called anandamide, that is produced in our bodies is actually referred to as the “bliss molecule”Low levels of anandamide have been linked to decreased happiness and increased anxiety. Increased anxiety negatively impacts sleep. Particular foods can increase our production of anandamide, like dark chocolate. CBD can prevent the breakdown of anandamide, and therefore, create more bliss.

Disclosure: I receive a small commission when the following products mentioned are purchased through my links. This allows me to provide you free articles and social media content daily (thank you!). I only work with brands I adore and use myself.

CBD Oil Benefits
Code Phruitful20 for 20% off first purchase of Icaria CBD oil.

In 2019 a clinical study was published which included 72 people. These adult subjects were given 25 mg of phytocannabinoids per day. After one month, 79% of the anxiety-sufferers experienced improvements in their reported anxiety scores. Also worth noting is that many cases of insomnia are tied to anxiety. The same study found that 67% of those suffering from poor sleep experienced improved sleep after one month. However, over time, this effect didn’t remain.

**Always check with your healthcare provider before using any supplements.

5. Meditation and Yoga

Since creating a meditation routine before bed, I have become excited when it is time for bed (this is quite a feat for a workaholic like myself). Meditation is one way to elicit the relaxation response. It has been shown to be even more effective at improving sleep quality than sleep hygiene education. There are several apps available, like Headspace or Calm, as well as podcasts, such as Sleep Meditation by Lauren Ostrowski Fenton.

7 Evidence-Based Ways to Get a Better Sleep Tonight

Another way to elicit the relaxation response is through yoga. Regular yoga has been shown to improve sleep and quality of life. I opt for free yoga in the comfort of my home. I find it much easier to maintain a practice when I can sneak in 20 minutes here or there instead of making an additional trip to attend an hour-long class at a studio. Youtubers Yoga With Adriene, Ani O Yoga, and Abiola Akanni have resources I enjoy. 

7 Evidence-Based Ways to Get a Better Sleep Tonight

6. Have an orgasm

Orgasms involve hormones such as oxytocin, serotonin, dopamine, and cortisol which are key players in our overall health.

Studies show that orgasms may help improve sleep, reduce stress and anxiety, increase circulation and blood flow throughout the body transporting nutrients to our brain, heart, and reproductive organs, increase self-esteem and confidence in women, increase leukocyte levels (white blood cells) and release DHEA (critical for immune function & bone health), relieve pain which may help ease migraines, headaches and menstrual cramps for some, and be pleasurable! Joy is absolutely necessary for optimal health. We need prescriptions for play!

7. Avoid news, work, or other stressful triggers

I know this one is easier said than done, and I am still working on this myself. But every stimulus can have some kind impact on our minds and bodies, particularly our nervous systems. I try to avoid the news and current events in the evenings. It can also help to let the people around you know that this is a boundary that you have set for your well-being. 

In health,

Dr. Dylan Cutler

This article is sponsored by Natural Calm Canada.

References:

Cutler WB, Garcia CR, Krieger AM. Sexual behavior frequency and menstrual cycle length in mature premenopausal women. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 1979 Jan 1;4(4):297-309.

Galinsky AM, Sonenstein FL. The association between developmental assets and sexual enjoyment among emerging adults. J Adolesc Health. 2011 Jun;48(6):610-5.

Catrina SB, Rotarus R, Wivall IL, Coculescu M, Brismar K. The influence of vasopressin deficiency and acute desmopressin administration on melatonin secretion in patients with central diabetes insipidus. J Endocrinol Invest. 2004 Jan;27(1):47-51.

Rutkowski K, Sowa P, Rutkowska-Talipska J, Kuryliszyn-Moskal A, Rutkowski R. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA): hypes and hopes. Drugs. 2014 Jul;74(11):1195-207.

Disclaimer: As the sole author of Phruitful Dish, Dr. Dylan Cutler, Ph.D., has based her posts on her own experiences and knowledge. The information in this blog is not intended as medical advice. All lifestyle, nutritional and supplemental choices should be made in consultation with your own current healthcare provider. This blog is intended to inspire and encourage readers to educate themselves on how nutrition and lifestyle are important and often overlooked aspects of health. Therefore, please use the information at your own risk. Occasional links may be provided leading to third-party websites. The existence of these links does not infer a responsibility or an endorsement of the linked site, its operator, or its contents.