Wondering what suplements are best for PCOS in the UK? Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age, leading to a range of symptoms including irregular periods, infertility, weight gain, hirsutism (excessive hair growth), acne, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance. While there is no cure for PCOS, there are a variety of treatments available to help manage symptoms, including lifestyle changes, medication, and supplements. In this blog post, we will explore the different supplements that may help with PCOS and what to look for when choosing a product in the UK.
If you want to skip to the best supplements then scroll further down, or if you want to know why I have such an interest in PCOS and how I have discovered the best supplements, then please read on.
I am a registered nutritional therapist with over 12 years’ experience in advising women on hormonal conditions. I was diagnosed with PCOS back in 1998 at the age of 25. At the time information on the condition was limited (remember this was before the internet) but I was made aware that PCOS can cause infertility, which was a frightening thought as I was preparing for my wedding. I was also struggling with other symptoms – central weight gain and excess hair growth. Not a great look for the bride to be!
I researched the condition and started to understand that there was a link with blood sugar levels and hormones. At the time low fat, low calorie diets were believed to be the key to weight loss, so the majority of my diet was made up of white pasta, rice, fruit juice, low fat yoghurts and sauces. These foods can raise blood sugar levels and there is no doubt that this diet of refined carbohydrates led to (or at least contributed to) my condition. I changed my diet, added in protein (not easy for a veggie at the time) and tried hard to change my thoughts on fats – they were not the devil that I had been led to believe they were. I increased my level of general activity and saw a nutritionist who added in some supplements. In 2002 my first son was born, followed by my second in 2005. I’m not saying it was easy to get pregnant either time, as I also had irregular cycles, which is a feature of PCOS, but I genuinely believe that a combination of diet, lifestyle and supplements has reversed my PCOS.
Following the birth of my second son, I headed back to college to follow my newly discovered passion for nutrition and natural remedies, qualifying as a Nutritional Therapist in 2010. I now run a health clinic, health store and online store working with other expert practitioners to offer consultations, one to one advice and the highest quality, effective supplements that are of a form and dosage that can be used and absorbed.
Since my PCOS diagnosis, I am pleased to say that so much more has been discovered about the condition, and there is some very promising research into key nutrients and herbs that can help. Nutrition and lifestyle are still an essential part of reversing PCOS. I offer a free discovery health review call or you can book a full consultation with me for detailed personalised suggestions that work for you, your budget and your lifestyle
Supplements for PCOS in the UK
So let’s talk about what you brought to this blog – if you're in the UK then the supplements to consider if you have been diagnosed with PCOS, whether they work, and the brands that I recommend. Here are my top five :
Inositol (also known as Myo-Inositol)
Over 65% of women with PCOS are insulin resistant. This means that the cells are unable to use insulin properly and so the pancreas is triggered to produce more (1). This higher insulin then triggers the ovaries to produce more male hormones (often referred to as androgens, including testosterone). This leads to some of those characteristic symptoms of PCOS, acne and thinning hair on the scalp and infertility.
Inositol is a type of carbohydrate that helps regulate insulin levels and improve insulin sensitivity. Myo-Inositol has been the focus of a number of studies for PCOS. Studies have concluded that myo-inositol improves ovulation and pregnancy rates in women with PCOS (2). Regulation of insulin levels can also help in the rebalancing of hormones and over time may result in a reduction of other symptoms resulting from higher androgen levels.
A dosage of 2,000mg with 200mcg of folic acid has been used in studies. To achieve this level I recommend a power form or you would need to take a large number of capsules or tablets and some brands contain extra fillers or synthetic binders that I do not recommend.
Viridian Myo-inositol is my preferred recommendation as this has the addition of folic acid and does not contain any additives.
Vitamin D: 65% to 75% of women with PCOS are deficient in Vitamin D (3) . Vitamin D is essential to overall health and has been shown to improve insulin resistance and reduce inflammation, alongside supporting the health of bones, teeth and the immune system. Limited research is available to show a direct link of Vitamin D supplementation on PCOS symptoms, but I always recommend that women take a supplement due to the extensive role in health and the fact that deficiency is so common. Vitamin D is very limited in food sources and so our main supply is the action of the sunlight on the skin. Sadly, we don’t see enough sunny days in the UK and we tend to be covered by clothing and sun screen so we do not get the exposure that we need.
Chromium: Chromium is a mineral that has long been used for blood sugar and insulin balance. An assessment of a number of trials on chromium for PCOS, concluded that it reduced body mass index, free testosterone and fasting insulin levels (4). Chromium is often found in combination with cinnamon and/or alpha lipoic acid, as these are further agents that have been found to support healthy blood sugar and insulin levels. Chromium is often combined with cinnamon in capsules as cinnamon is also associated with healthy blood sugar balance.
I recommend TerraNova Chromium, Cinnamon and Alpha Lipoic Acid complex or Viridian Chromium and Cinnamon.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids :
Women with PCOS have higher levels of inflammation, particularly if they are overweight. PCOS also carries a greater risk of high cholesterol and triglycerides. Omega 3 fatty acids are essential to health and specific studies of omega 3 supplementation in women with PCOS have found improvements in cholesterol, a reduction in inflammation and an improvement in insulin sensitivity, all features that are at the heart of PCOS.
I recommend omega 3 fatty acids to most women I see in my clinic due to their essential role in health. In addition to the benefits listed for PCOS, omega 3’s are supportive of healthy skin, mood and brain health. The main food source is oily fish and most women do not consume this in sufficient quantities.
Purity and dosage is critical in omega 3 supplementation. The most effective and recommended form is fish oil, but we know that there are many issues with toxins in fish oils. I advise against cod liver oil for that reason. My favourite omega 3 supplement by far is Bare Biology Life and Soul Omega, a full 430mg EPA and 220mg DHA (the important bits) per capsule. It is at the higher price point though, so I am also happy to recommend Cytoplan fish oil which is taken from anchovy and sardine as these are low in toxins
I am a big fan of NAC, it is an amino acid that appears to have many roles in the body, including supporting healthy hormone health. A study found NAC to have comparable benefits to the prescription medication metformin on PCOS symptoms. NAC was found to bring a significant decrease in body mass index, hirsutism score, fasting insulin, free testosterone, total cholesterol and menstrual irregularity (5)
Viridian High Strength NAC contains 600mg per capsule which is the amount used in this study, on a dosage of 3 capsules per day
How to choose a UK supplement for PCOS.
If you are looking to take supplements, it is important that you take products from reputable brands with clean products and nutrients in forms that you will actually absorb. Supplements are big business and it is easy to pick up a product like inositol for example, with a dosage of just 10mg, yet the evidence says 200mg – the likelihood is that a lower dosage will not achieve the results you are looking for.
I work with a team of nutritionists at Amaranth and we will only work with brands that we know and trust. TerraNova, Viridian, Wild Nutrition, Biocare, Bare Biology, Cytoplan and Nutri Advanced tend to be top of our list but there are other specialist brands out there that are good. If you are pondering whether the ones you have in your cupboard are any good, please book a health review and we are happy to advise.
Please do consider that in the UK, supplements are just one part of a PCOS management process. PCOS is a very diet and lifestyle responsive condition. I would love to support you with a plan that is personalised to you and can help you find relief from your symptoms. Book a health review today or you can book a full one to one nutritional therapy consultation for a detailed plan.
We are here to help :)
Consultation with a healthcare professional: Before starting any supplement regimen, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional to ensure that it is safe and appropriate for you.
References available on request