PCOS and Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency (not having enough vitamin D) is fairly common among teens in general. However, new research shows that girls with PCOS are more likely than other girls (without a diagnosis of PCOS) to be deficient in vitamin D. There’s also a lot of interesting research going on that is looking at the relationship between vitamin D and things such as obesity, insulin resistance, irregular periods, body hair, and mood in girls with PCOS. Although we don’t yet know what the connection between vitamin D and PCOS is, we do know that we all need to be thinking about getting enough vitamin D because it’s important for our bones and overall health.
The tricky thing with vitamin D is that it actually isn’t found in many foods. The main food sources of vitamin D are milk, soy milk, cottage cheese, some yogurts, fatty fish (such as salmon or tuna), eggs, and fortified orange juice. You can also get vitamin D from the sun because when sunlight hits your skin, it triggers your body to make vitamin D. The problem with relying on the sun for vitamin D is that too much sun exposure isn’t recommended because it puts you at risk for skin cancer. People who have dark complexion and those who don’t live near the equator usually can’t get enough vitamin D from the sun, either.
For people who don’t get enough vitamin D from food or the sun (which is most of us), a vitamin D supplement is recommended. Teen girls should get between 600 and 1,000 IU (which is short for international units). Taking this amount of vitamin D in the form of a supplement is perfectly safe and may help prevent vitamin D deficiency. Talk to your health care provider to find out if you are at risk for vitamin D deficiency or if you should be taking a vitamin D supplement.