There seems to be accumulating research to indicate the having low Vitamin D levels in the blood, may be linked to insulin resistance in PCOS. This is one of the recent articles that demonstrate this association.
Eur J Endocrinol. 2009 Oct;161(4):575-82. Epub 2009 Jul 23.
Association of hypovitaminosis D with metabolic disturbances in polycystic ovary syndrome.
Wehr E, Pilz S, Schweighofer N, Giuliani A, Kopera D, Pieber TR, Obermayer-Pietsch B.
The researchers measured Vitamin D status, BMI, measures of insulin resistance in 206 women with PCOS. It was found that 72.6% of the PCOS Women had insufficient Vitamin D levels, and the women with Metabolic Syndrome (a cluster of symptoms including insulin resistance) had significantly lower levels than the women that didn't have Metabolic Syndrome. The researchers suggested that large scale studies be undertaken to see if Vitamin D supplementation is of benefit to women with PCOS. We are not sure of the answer to that one yet, so in the mean time, let's look at some of the ways to get sufficient Vitamin D.
Vitamin D is often known as the sunshine vitamin, because our bodies make most of our Vitamin D through exposure of our skin to sunlight.
The recommended requirement for Vitamin D in Australian women aged 19-50 (including those pregnant or breasfeeding) is 5 microgram per day. It is thought that exposure of 6% of the bodies surface (face, arms, hands) to the sun on a clear day for 10-15 minutes 2-3 times a week will give you the equivalent of 15 microgram a day of Vitamin D. The main dietary sources in Australia are fortified table margarine, fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackeral and also eggs. Dietary intake is secondary to Vitamin D produced by our body on exposure to sunlight though.
So the take home message? Next time you visit your GP, ask to have your Vitamin D levels tested. As this article has shown, women with PCOS appear to be at higher risk of low levels and may require supplementation. Other groups at high risk include dark skinned women, vieled women and those living at low latitudes or who stay indoors a lot.
Back soon with more PCOS nutrition news. Until then stay happy and healthy,
Claire Daly is an Accredited Practising Dietitian / Accredited Nutritionist who works with women and families. She has particular interest in working with women who have PCOS (Claire has PCOS herself), fertility problems or who are wanting to achieve a healthy weight and good health prior to and during pregnancy. Claire has her own private practice in Melbourne. For more information visit www.eatwell.com.au
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