Today I'm really excited to talk to you about a group of vitamins really vital for female health useful for ladies particularly with hormone dysregulation, PCOS and weight issues.
The B vitamins are very important in helping to improve the symptoms of PCOS. In nature if we get a balanced diet we get lots of the B vitamins in things like Meat, Fish, Eggs, Milk and green leafy veggies. If you want to have them in one source ie a vitamin, Its really important to make sure you have these vitamins in a combined formula as they all work together on different elements!
Vitamins B2, B3, B5 and B6 are particularly useful for weight and maintaining and managing it. One of the B vitamins - Vitamin B2( riboflavin) helps to turn the food you eat via fat, sugar and protein to the energy we need to survive(its also the one that turns your wee bright yellow!) B3 another vitamin, s an important co-factor in supporting glucose tolerance factor (GTF), GTF is something that allows your body to keep an eye on blood sugar . It needs vitamin B3 to help this process, almost like food for your GTF! Vitamin B5 is also important as it helps your body metabolises fat, so important if you are overweight and need to lose weight to qualify for fertility support! B6 is also marvellous as it supports proper hormonal balance and may be one deficiency present if you suffer from PMT. It helps to maintain blood sugar, oestrogen and also progesterone and helps in mood regulation via serotonin. Many women with PCOS have deficiencies in this and also low progesterone, so worth topping up your levels with B6 in this case. B6 is also part of a ‘gang’ with B2 and B3, that will help your body to make and move thyroxine, needed for normal thyroid hormone production.
Let’s not forget folate B9! Many of you maybe on folic acid for your fertility as this is the basic component of many B complex vitamins. However I like to super charge my ladies and always go for the superior version of folate called Methlyfolate. Folate is such an important substance, its not just needed for helping to prevent Spina Bifida and Neural tube defects, its needed for all our cells to replicate which happens hundreds of thousands of times a second in our bodies, so vital for health, not just to get it in supplement form but in natural forms through leafy greens!
Folate works in conjunction with B12 also a co-factor and together they help to reduce a substance or by-product of methylation called homocysteine. This can have implications of cardiovascular issues if too high and homocysteine can creep up if taking metformin, without replacing both B12 and folate in the diet.
Deficiencies in these vitamins can happen easily if you have an inflammatory condition like PCOS, so having a great combined B vitamin will enable the body to maintain balance more easily so it can do its job!
B12 is an important vitamin and many people are deficient in this mineral. It is found in lots of foods such as Meats, fish and dairy, so often vegetarians can become deficient in this vitamin, particularly people who don't eat a healthy diet. B12 together with folate is really needed by the body to help cell replication and DNA, which we need constantly as cells die and are replenished. When we eat protein B12 is released and is then further broken down by something called intrinsic factor which helps B12 to get absorbed into the blood stream. You need good levels of Hydrochloric acid for B12 to be released so for many this may be the issue of constant low B12 despite supplementation. So taking some cider vinegar in war water before food helps with stomach acid support. B12 becomes deficient in the body by using metformin, so it really important to take this to help red blood cells and oxygenated blood travel round the body. Thorne Research Basic B has a super absorbable B12 called Methylcobalamin in it, which is an excellent version of B12, and one of only 2 I recommend together with Adenosyl cobalamin and Hydroxocobalamin. I'm not a fan of the standard B12 forms you see in most supplements – Cyanocobalamin. I’ll be honest it isn't my favourite form as it uses cyanide as a binding factor instead of more natural forms. It is a very small amount and we do have naturally occurring cyanide in some food, however I like my B12 without a side order of poison personally! So if you, like me, are not into this, always read the labels of supplements to see what’s in them and if possible go for active b Methylfolate.
The B vitamins are also essential for the liver , which has 2 phases. The first one processes substances such as hormones and toxins and metabolises them – B vitamins particular B2, B3, B6, B9 and B12, are important at this stage. The second stage is where these substances are ‘ conjugated’ . B vitamins do their thing at this stage also and help the liver to get rid of excess and old hormones so they can be eliminated by the body. If you have PCOS its more than likely you have an excess of oestrogen, so this is where B vitamins can really help your liver!
Here a diagram to show how well absorbed methylfolate is in the body compared to folic acid as well as where B12 and Homocysteine come into things as we break the vitamins down via food and supplements for the body to use.
Many ladies with PCOS I’m working with are having great results combining this supplement with Inositol which also helps regulate blood sugar via the insulin receptors. It also works on the liver to support its function and in trial has supported reducing higher FSH and reducing oestrogen. In trails particularly for IVF this has helped egg quality and also improved outcome in IVF. There are also loads of studies on using Inositol for PCOS.