Zinc is a highly underrated mineral that is crucial for glucose metabolism, hormonal health, and fertility. A deficiency of zinc can wreak havoc on your PCOS symptoms. Given its many benefits, zinc is a very important nutrient when it comes to the natural treatment of PCOS.
Zinc For PCOS: What’s The Connection?
Zinc plays a key role in your hormonal health as it is needed to produce the female sex hormones – estrogen and progesterone. It’s also vital for regular periods, regular ovulation as well as a healthy pregnancy. Studies have found that PCOS patients may suffer from low serum levels of zinc. And this could very easily be the reason behind some of the troublesome PCOS symptoms like cystic acne, irregular periods, hair loss, and excessive body hair.
Zinc for PCOS is beneficial in a variety of ways. But one of the most direct benefits of zinc for PCOS is that it blocks excess androgens. Research has shown that zinc is a potent inhibitor of 5 alpha-reductase activity, which converts testosterone to DHT, and is responsible for a myriad of PCOS symptoms directly linked to excess androgen levels.
On the other hand, zinc is also a natural inhibitor of prolactin secretion, which is another way it can improve PCOS symptoms like irregular periods, cystic acne and hirsutism. Elevated levels of prolactin can decrease estrogen levels as well as interfere with regular ovulation, resulting in a hormonal imbalance.
8 Benefits of Zinc For PCOS
Zinc is crucial for the functioning of many hormones, including insulin and thyroid hormones. Below we discuss 8 benefits of adding zinc to your PCOS diet.
Improves Blood Sugar Control
Many PCOS patients suffer from insulin resistance and elevated blood sugar levels. Zinc supplementation can improve glycemic control. Zinc can naturally help lower insulin levels, making it beneficial for those struggling with hyperinsulinemia. Good blood sugar control early on in your PCOS management prevents pre-diabetes and diabetes.
Reduces Painful PMS Symptoms
PCOS often brings with itself exaggerated PMS symptoms like cramps, abdominal pain, bloating, anxiety and headache. Zinc supplementation can provide relief from these PMS symptoms. Taking 30-50mg of zinc a couple of weeks before your period (that means – after ovulation) can be a simple and inexpensive remedy for PMS symptoms.
PCOS can make it hard for you to get pregnant. And guess what? Zinc deficiency only worsens this. Low serum levels of zinc have been linked to ovarian function problems, irregular periods, or even anovulation (a complete lack of ovulation.) Animal studies show that zinc deficiency can reduce fertility.
Promotes Heart Health
Women suffering from PCOS are at increased risk of heart disease because the disorder can lead to increased plasma triglyceride and reduced high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels. Zinc supplementation has favorable effects on plasma lipid parameters. It can reduce total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.
Excess body and facial hair growth or hirsutism is another highly unwanted side effect of PCOS that zinc supplementation can address. Because zinc can promote hormonal balance and block androgens, it can be an all-natural treatment for excess body & facial hair growth. Studies have found that Magnesium-Zinc-Calcium-Vitamin D co-supplementation can result in significant reductions in hirsutism within 12 weeks.
Reduces Hair Loss
Just like PCOS can cause increase facial and body hair growth, it can also lead to hair fall. Zinc supplementation can show improvements in PCOS-related hair fall or alopecia.
Improves Cystic Acne
Taking zinc for PCOS can also clear up your skin of cystic acne. Apart from blocking excess androgens, the anti-bacterial effects of zinc and its anti-inflammatory actions further help in providing relief from acne in women with PCOS. Zinc can also be used as an effective alternative to antibiotics in the treatment of inflammatory acne.
PCOS has been linked to low-grade chronic inflammation, while inflammation also exacerbates PMS symptoms and acne. Zinc deficiency can cause an inflammatory response in the body, contributing further to chronic inflammation. Hence, zinc is a must-add to your list of PCOS-friendly supplements.
In addition, zinc supplementation can also support thyroid function and dial down stress response, both of which can bring about improvements in your PCOS symptoms.
Tips For Adding Zinc To Your PCOS Diet
Since zinc deficiency could be worsening many of your PCOS symptoms, supplementing your PCOS diet with zinc makes sense. You can get tested for zinc deficiency with ‘plasma zinc’ tests. For reference, the normal range should be 11-23 umol/L or 70-150 ug/dL. However, since zinc is stored in cells and tissues, this test is not 100% accurate. Considering that we already know that many PCOS patients can have significantly low serum zinc levels, it’s safe to supplement your diet with additional zinc.
Foods High In Zinc
The easiest way to boost your zinc intake is through foods rich in zinc. These include:
- Grass-fed Lamb
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Cacao Powder
- Sesame Seeds
However, modern farming practices have led to depleted levels of zinc in the soil, which means that it can sometimes be hard to get enough zinc through a healthy diet. It could also be the reason why so many people across the globe are deficient in this essential trace-element. If you and your doctor suspect that you may have a zinc deficiency, supplements can be a better option.
Zinc Supplements To Try
You can supplement with 30 mg to 50 mg of zinc daily. Choose from Zinc Glycinate, Zinc Citrate, Zinc Orotate and Zinc Picolinate.
The best way to take Zinc is 1-2 hours after meals, as it can cause gastrointestinal distress when taken on an empty stomach. You can also take it with meals.
However, be aware that zinc can interfere with the absorption of calcium and iron. Since these two supplements are commonly given to PCOS patients, it’s best to take them at different times.