(NaturalNews) Supplementation with vitamin D and calcium may be a simple, inexpensive way to significantly reduce many symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
PCOS is characterized by the formation of numerous small cysts on the edges of the ovaries. It is one of the most common hormonal disorders in women. Common complications of PCOS include infertility, obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes, heart disease and potentially even cancer.
Because vitamin D has been shown to play an important role in the development and maturation of egg cells from ovarian follicles, many researchers have long suggested that the vitamin might have a treatment role to play in PCOS. A preliminary study, published in the journal Steroids in 1999, examined the effects of vitamin D and calcium supplementation on 13 vitamin D-deficient PCOS patients. After just two months of supplementation, regular menstrual cycles were restored in seven of the nine women who had been suffering from irregular periods. Two of the women became pregnant. Based on this study, the researchers suggested that calcium deficiency may actually be an underlying cause of some of the symptoms of PCOS.
Fertility improved with supplementation
Another study into the link between calcium and vitamin D and the symptoms of PCOS was conducted by researchers from Shahid Sedughi University of Medical Sciences and Health Services in Iran, and published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice in May 2012. The study was conducted on 100 women who had been diagnosed with both PCOS and infertility.
The participants were assigned to be treated either just with the anti-diabetes drug metformin (1,500 mg/day) - a common PCOS treatment - or with a combination of the same metformin dose plus 1,000 mg/day of calcium and 100,000 IU/month of vitamin D. Each participant had her dominant ovarian follicle assessed at the study's start, as well as three months and six months later.
At the start of the study, 83 percent of all participants were found to be deficient in vitamin D, including 35 women classified as severely deficient. After six months, vitamin D levels had risen to "sufficient" in 74 percent of participants in the supplementation group.
Participants in the vitamin D and calcium group also showed significant improvement in follicle maturation, fertility and menstrual regularity, and a decrease in body mass index (a measure of obesity).
Research suggests that vitamin D and calcium may also have other important roles to play in regulating the female reproductive system. According to a study conducted by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and published in the International Journal of Cancer in June 2012, women with a higher intake of calcium have a significantly lower risk of ovarian cancer, while women with a higher vitamin D intake have a significantly lower risk of endometrial cancer. And a study by researchers from Hospital Clinico San Carlos-IdISSC in Spain, published in the journal Endocrine Practice in May 2012, found that pregnant women with higher levels of vitamin D had fewer C-sections, fewer preterm births and were significantly less likely to develop gestational diabetes.
Health experts are increasingly coming to believe that the standard daily recommendation for vitamin D - just enough to prevent bone disorders - is actually far too low.
Fortunately, many people can obtain all the vitamin D they need just by getting more direct sunlight on their skin (without sunblock). For elderly or darker skinned people living at latitudes far from the equator, dietary vitamin D may be needed in the form of fatty fish, fortified foods or supplements.