Vitamin D + PCOS


This article was written by my previous Nutrition Grad Student, Kimmie Singh. She is a fat woman of color who experiences PCOS. You can find out more information about her work now as a dietitian here.

Vitamins and minerals are important for having a healthy body and people with PCOS need to pay a extra attention to vitamin D levels. Why?

Vitamin D is a hormone. 

Research shows many people with PCOS are vitamin D deficient.

Healthy vitamin D levels in people with PCOS can be protective against lots of PCOS-related health problems. Here are some ways in which Vitamin D may help your PCOS:

  • Insulin resistance is super common in people with PCOS. Numerous studies found that among people with PCOS, lower vitamin D levels are linked to increased insulin resistance.
  • One study found people with PCOS who take vitamin D supplements may have lower fasting blood sugar levels and lower circulating insulin (remember: extra insulin in circulation causes a lot of the insulin resistance symptoms).
  • Numerous studies suggest vitamin D may reduce inflammation, a common effect of PCOS.
  • When combined with Metformin, taking vitamin D supplements have been shown to improve menstrual regulation.
  • Healthy vitamin D levels in people with PCOS are also linked to higher HDL cholesterol levels (that’s the good cholesterol).

Want to find a way to treat your PCOS without dieting?

Grab a FREE download from Julie here.

There is a still lot of emerging research about the exact role of vitamin D in people with PCOS, so we aren’t sure exactly how vitamin D is linked to PCOS. Needless to say, having healthy vitamin D levels are important for a healthy body.

Here are some ways to get vitamin D:

  • Your skin makes Vitamin D when it’s exposed to direct sunlight. Make some time for your favorite outdoor activity.
  • Don’t forget to drink your milk…or any other drink that is fortified with vitamin D. Some juices and non-dairy milks are fortified with vitamin D, so check out the nutrition label on your favorite drink.
  • Check out of these Vitamin D-rich foods: salmon, tuna, mackerel, beef, liver, egg yolks, and some cheeses and yogurts
  • It can be tough to get enough vitamin D without supplements. When taking supplemental Vitamin D, be sure the dose doesn’t exceed 4,000 IU per day!!!! (Excuse my exclamation marks, but too much vitamin D can be harmful.) Try to consume at least 600 IU per day. Unfortunately, supplements are not regulated by the FDA, so it’s important to choose supplements that are third party tested. Julie recommends the following brands: Nature’s Made, Kirkland and Nordic Naturals.

Want to explore more non diet options to help manage your PCOS, promote health AND healing?

Click here for details on Julie’s PCOS and Food Peace course.




Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin D. Retrieved July 16, 2017, from

El-Shal, A. S., Shalaby, S. M., Aly, N. M., Rashad, N. M., & Abdelaziz, A. M. (2013). Genetic variation in the vitamin D receptor gene and vitamin D serum levels in Egyptian women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Molecular Biology Reports,40(11), 6063-6073. doi:10.1007/s11033-013-2716-y

Fang, F., Ni, K., Cai, Y., Shang, J., Zhang, X., & Xiong, C. (2017). Effect of vitamin D supplementation on polycystic ovary syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 26, 53-60. doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2016.11.008

Keshavarz, M. A., Moradi, S., & Rohani, F. (2017). Association between serum 25(OH) vitamin D and metabolic disturbances in polycystic ovary syndrome. The Netherlands Journal of Medicine, 75(5), 190-195. Retrieved July 12, 2017.

Lin, M., & Wu, M. (2015). The role of vitamin D in polycystic ovary syndrome. Indian Journal of Medical Research, 142(3), 238-240. doi:10.4103/0971-5916.166527

Maktabi, M., Chamani, M., & Asemi, Z. (2017). The Effects of Vitamin D Supplementation on Metabolic Status of Patients with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Hormone and Metabolic Research, 49(07), 493-498. doi:10.1055/s-0043-107242

Pilz, S., Kienreich, K., Rutters, F., Jongh, R., Van Ballegooijen, A. J., Grubler, M., Dekker, J. M. (2012). Role of Vitamin D in the Development of Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes. Current Diabetes Reports, 13(2), 261-270. doi:10.1007/s11892-012-0358-4

Scott, D., Joham, A., Teede, H., Gibson-Helm, M., Harrison, C., Cassar, S., . . . Courten, B. D. (2016). Associations of Vitamin D with Inter- and Intra-Muscular Adipose Tissue and Insulin Resistance in Women with and without Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Nutrients, 8(12), 774. doi:10.3390/nu8120774

PCOS + Insulin {Part 1}

This article was written by my previous Nutrition Grad Student, Kimmie Singh. She is a fat woman of color who experiences PCOS. You can find out more information about her work now as a dietitian here.

Are you are excited to learn about insulin and glucose?


I appreciate the excitement meter will be low for this one. In fact, I may have completely lost your attention at insulin. Before writing this I asked my friends and family what comes to mind when they hear “insulin and glucose,” and they suddenly seemed extremely uninterested and unenthusiastically mumbled, “I don’t know…diabetes?”

You may be feeling similar feelings of boredom, and to be frank, I don’t blame you.

I felt pretty uninterested in learning about insulin and glucose until I realized how much they impact my PCOS. 

If you are reading this, then you have insulin and glucose to thank, literally. They are crucial to fuel everything you do. Whether it’s lifting a finger to click “play next” on Netflix, reading an awesome series on PCOS *wink*, or running a marathon, insulin and glucose play a role.

But please, don’t just take my word for it. Continue reading and learn for yourself.

Want to find a way to treat your PCOS without dieting?

Grab a FREE download from Julie here.

So, let’s take it back to basics. Insulin is a hormone. If you have PCOS, you are probably sick of hearing about hormones by now. I know the feeling, but insulin is a little different from the hormones that may come to mind.

Insulin plays a key role in getting energy from food. 

After you eat a meal, your body absorbs the glucose from the digested food. So whether you are eating carrots or a piece of cake, your body will absorb glucose from your food. This glucose will be transported through your blood to reach the cells that need energy.

So after you eat, your blood glucose level will increase as glucose travels to your cells for energy. In response to this surge in blood glucose your pancreas will release insulin. Insulin and glucose go hand in hand. Think of insulin as the gatekeeper for the cells- it allows the cells to take up glucose for energy.

So, in a nutshell, your body needs energy to think, move, and function. The primary source of energy for your cells is glucose. Insulin allows glucose to enter your cells. 

You may find yourself wondering why I’m explaining insulin and glucose in a series about PCOS. Well, people with PCOS tend have more insulin in circulation, and this affects how your body gets energy and stores fat. A little insight: people with PCOS have MUCH more insulin than folks with diabetes so the experience is different and more intense.

These super high insulin levels are behind the massive cravings PCOS is known for and most don’t understand. 

Now that you get the key roles of glucose and insulin, the next post will explain how they work differently for people with PCOS.

Want to explore more non diet options to help manage your PCOS, promote health AND healing?

Click here for details on Julie’s PCOS and Food Peace course.



The Love Food Podcast Episode 45


Do you have a health situation that makes intuitive eating difficult? Do you have doctors telling you that weight loss and cutting out certain food groups is required for your wellbeing? Do you just feel lost and want to help guide yourself toward food peace?? Listen now for some first steps on how to tackle it all.

Subscribe and leave a review here in just seconds.

Key Points:

  • Reflections on the 2016 Election, the President-elect Donald Trump, and the fat phobia that has come along with his campaign.
  • The difficulty in choosing not to diet, and dealing with the pressures from outside sources to continue down that path.
  • Using food as a coping mechanism and a numbing agent for uncomfortable feelings.
  • The vulnerability and fear of being thin.
  • Coping with health issues, such as PCOS, while also dealing with a disordered relationship with food and your body.
  • PCOS: weight gain, hormone destabilization, fatigue… what do we do??
  • Does intuitive eating really work for PCOS?? Or does “healing” PCOS require weight loss, as so many doctors suggest?
  • The million dollar question: can someone work on intuitive eating (rather than dieting) AND manage their health with PCOS? HELL YES!
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: a genetic and environmental syndrome that affects someone’s hormones, which leads to high insulin levels and insulin resistance. These high insulin levels lead to a high drive to eat, especially carbohydrates, which can lead to weight gain. Weight loss is often the primary treatment from most practitioners. This can make delving into intuitive eating difficult! Other sympotoms can include hair growth and male pattern baldness. These symptoms can have a huge negative impact on the body image of someone dealing with PCOS.
  • Self-care needs to be a priority for people with PCOS, especially getting enough sleep.
  • Those affected with PCOS can actually use the delicate balance of their bodies to delve deeply into intuitive eating! Take notice of energy levels and mood, rather than weight and even hunger cues (hunger cues can be super difficult to interpret with PCOS!).
  • Those with PCOS will probably need more protein than those without, especially at breakfast and before bed, to help with fatigue and appetite (but don’t cut out carboydrates or fats!).
  • Focus on healing your body and your soul… Sometimes, it’s not about the food!!
  • Sit with your vulnerability. (This is where therapy can come in handy! Therapists allow us the space to sit in that feeling.)
  • Put weight loss on the back burner and check in with your body… how does it feel today? What self-care did I do that worked for me today? This will help lead you to food peace and body peace.

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

Thank you for listening to the Love, Food series. Give me feedback via Twitter @EatingPermitRD.


This episode was sponsored by my friends at Green Mountain at Fox Run.
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