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I deal with a largely female clientele, making up 80% of my clients, over the years and decades has seen me deal with well over 1000 women, what I have noticed is an upswing in ladies with PCOS.
Polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition that affects anywhere from 6-21% of women, usually during childbearing ages of 15-44 years, depending on how it is diagnosed, and the population you in, is believed, many women go undiagnosed. There is a greater prevalence in overweight and obese women.
PCOS is a syndrome or a group of symptoms, that affects the ovaries and ovulation. Not all forms will exhibit the same symptoms, some have higher testosterone (Hyperandrogenism), others simply an irregular period or fertility issues, as well as compromised insulin sensitivity.
We see these characteristics in menstrual dysfunction and hyperandrogenism which can lead to infertility or an increased risk of complications during pregnancy, we often see insulin resistance and increased risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease. This is sometimes associated with psychological symptoms, such as anxiety, depression and a general lack of sense of well-being.
In my role, I usually advise some lifestyle changes, such as including formal exercise, changes in nutritional composition, encouraging weight loss if overweight, and the inclusion of vitamin D3 and Fish oils. This is usually where my scope of practice ends, and one needs a doctor to help assist with pharmacology, such as using birth control to regulate the hormones, and or the use of Glucophage/Metformin to improve in sullen sensitivity.
In recent years a supplement known as Myo-Inositol started showing promise, as an effective supplement to assist those with PCOS, at first, I kept an eye on the research, but it wasn’t compelling enough at that stage, to include it in my general advice, this has now changed as more and more research is showing real promise.
Inositols are pseudo vitamin compounds and are found in most foods, with the highest concentrations being found in whole grains and citrus fruit.
Myo-inositol is showing the most promise as a dietary supplement, for assisting in female fertility, improving insulin sensitivity in those with type 2 diabetes and PCOS, as well as a reception in anxiety and depression. It also may assist in alleviating symptoms of PMS. The anti-depressant effects seem to be isolated to women only, with men showing no real benefit. There also seems to be a strong improvement in acne, although this may be simply from its positive effects on hyperandrogenism from some forms of PCOS.
It is very well tolerated even in very high doses (12 000 mg and more) although this is probably totally unnecessary and may bring some gastric distress, the typical doses I recommend are on the lower end, 500-3000mg per day in either a single dose before breakfast or a split dose fashion if taking towards the upper suggested range of 3000 mg, these doses are sufficient for fertility and the positive effects on insulin sensitivity. The anti-anxiety and anti-depressive qualities are usually seen in higher doses around 6000 mg and above.
My general advice is usually between 2000-3000mg range of the powdered version.
Initially I started 2 clients, with known diagnosed PCOS on Myo-Inositol on 2000 mg per day a few months back, and increased that dose to 3000 mg currently, we will be running this for a period of 6 months at least, at the time , it was tough because Myo-Inositol wasn’t well known locally, and bar one or two brands, that was low dose per capsule, and very expensive, it was a challenge. Initially we managed to find a product, which had a decent dose per sachet around 750 mg worth, it was still a costly experiment at R350 for 30 sachets, especially running the effective doses we required, I did ask NOW Foods SA to bring it in, as I spotted it on their international list of products, thankfully they decided to add it to their list of local products, with 100 capsules of 500 mg per capsule costing you around R199 per bottle, which makes running the higher doses more affordable for some.
As for results, the feedback has been mainly positive, without telling the clients what to expect, the feedback has been positive and in line with the research, mood stability has improved, as well as a generally improved sense of wellbeing, PMS symptoms seem to be reduced, and after many months, there seems to be an improved regularity to their menstrual cycle. These are all anecdotal experiences and should be viewed as such.
If you can find it in a soft gel cap form, and not powdered form, you only need to use 30% of the suggested dose above, so 600 mg would be equivalent to 2000 mg of the powdered version.
As always, please consult with your doctor, before deciding on supplementing for any condition, it's just the smart thing to do, my advice is simply that, advice, and not meant as prescriptive.
Head Coach CSB Bodyfusion
Inositol is a non-essential member of the B-complex family with dietary sources from both animal and plant foods