Inositol is a popular health supplement for supporting stress and anxiety, regulating hormone function, and improving fertility

Folate (or folic acid) is another helpful nutrient used to drive cellular replication and the production of DNA. 

Chromium is a trace mineral used to regulate blood sugar levels by supporting insulin. 

When combined together, all three of these humble nutrients have a powerful synergy towards supporting polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) — a condition affecting roughly 1 in 10 women between the ages of 12 and 50. 

In this guide, we’ll explore the synergistic relationship between these three important nutrients and how they may be used to support hormonal imbalance associated with PCOS

First of All, what is PCOS? 

PCOS stands for polycystic ovarian syndrome. This is not to be confused with polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD) — which is diagnosed by determining the presence of numerous cysts on the ovaries. These cysts reduce the ovaries ability to function — leading to its associated symptoms. 

With PCOS, there’s no identifiable cause for the condition. The very word syndrome refers to a series of symptoms. It’s a term used when medicine doesn’t quite have an explanation for what’s actually causing the symptoms. 

PCOS symptoms are similar to those of PCOD, including lowered fertility and abnormal menstrual cycles. However, with this condition, there are a few other factors to be aware of. 

One major difference between PCOD and PCOS is metabolic dysfunction. Up to 70% of PCOS sufferers experience problems with their blood sugar levels and weight gain. 

PCOS also involves alterations in female hormones (either excessive or deficient), higher than normal testosterone levels, high insulin, high blood glucose, high LDL cholesterol levels, low HDL cholesterol levels, and high triglyceride levels. 

All of these imbalances are what leads to the symptoms associated with the condition.

What are the Symptoms of PCOS? 

PCOS symptoms will vary from one woman to the next, but generally involves some or all of the following symptoms: 

  1. Irregular periods or lack of menstrual cycle
  2. Infertility (difficulty getting pregnant)
  3. Thinning hair or hair loss
  4. Unexplained weight gain
  5. Acne formation
  6. Excessive hair growth on the face, back, or chest

Exploring the Synergy of Inositol, Folate, & Chromium for PCOS

While there’s no known cure for PCOS, there are a handful of nutrients and health supplements that have been shown to support symptoms and restore reproductive health. 

Here, we’ll discuss why inositol is so popular for PCOS sufferers, and how the addition of folate and chromium can make this formula even better. 

1. Inositol for Insulin & Hormone Balance

Inositol is the main ingredient in this formula. It’s often referred to as vitamin B8 — but it’s not technically a vitamin. It’s a sugar alcohol with roughly half the sweetness of table sugar. 

The body can make inositol from glucose in the kidneys at a rate of about two grams per day. It’s also naturally produced in many foods, including beans, grains, bran, and citrus fruits. Supplemental forms of inositol are still the best way to reach the higher doses. 

Inositol has many uses — it supports the function of neurotransmitters and hormones — which give it anti-anxiety and hormonal-balancing benefits. 

One of the most common reasons for taking inositol is to regulate insulin and other hormone levels in women with PCOS

Inositol works through two primary mechanisms: 

A) Inositol for Insulin & Blood Sugar Regulation

Insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia (high insulin levels) is prevalent in 65 to 70 percent of PCOS sufferers [1]. 

Insulin is used to shuttle sugar molecules from the blood to the inside of cell membranes where they can be converted into energy. Insulin resistance refers to a condition where the cells stop responding to insulin — making it much more difficult to move sugar from the blood to the cells. 

The inside of the cells are hungry for energy, which causes symptoms like hunger, irritability, lightheadedness, and fatigue. It also tells the body to secrete more insulin to help get the sugar to the cells that need it. This eventually leads to hyperinsulinemia and other metabolic disorders. 

Inositol helps by boosting the efficiency of insulin. 

A study published in 2017 compared the effects of two insulin-sensitizing agents — inositol and the anti-diabetic medication, metformin [3]. The study found inositol and metformin were equally effective for reducing insulin levels, improving BMI, and restoring menstrual cycles in women with PCOS

B) Inositol for Female Sex Hormone Regulation

Inositol is an important secondary messenger for FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone). This hormone plays a critical role in regulating the menstrual cycle. It’s required for the release of an egg (follicle) as well as other critical functions in the female reproductive cycle. 

If inositol levels are low, FSH may not be able to act on the ovaries to initiate the release of a new follicle — leading to many of the negative side-effects associated with conditions like PCOS

Some of the direct implications of this may include: 

  1. Altered LH:FSH ratios — leading to changes in estrogen and progesterone production (can be too high or too low)
  2. Increased testosterone levels — resulting in symptoms like abnormal hair growth, weight gain, and infertility
  3. Altered prolactin production — causing a loss of libido, lactation, facial hair growth

Studies have shown supplemental inositol may restore balance to all of these metrics. One study involving 50 women diagnosed with PCOS found blood levels of LH, prolactin, and androstenedione (testosterone precursor) were all reduced with just 2 grams of supplemental inositol per day [2]. 

2. Folate for Hormone Production

Folate is more commonly referred to as vitamin B9. Unlike inositol, folate is a true B vitamin. 

On its own, folate is required for DNA replication — which means it’s essential for the function of any tissue that requires rapid cell replication. This includes the blood, skin, nails, hair, and immune cells. It’s especially important in pregnant women and young children. 

When paired with inositol, folate offers a dramatic reduction of symptoms in women with PCOS

One study compared the effects of a combination of inositol and folic acid (a precursor of folate) on 50 women diagnosed with PCOS who were unable to ovulate. The trial concluded that by the end of the trial, nearly 62% of the women achieved ovulation, and 38% became pregnant [4]. 

3. Chromium for Blood Glucose Support

Chromium is a trace mineral used as a cofactor for several important metabolic reactions. The most important effect of chromium for supporting PCOS in this formula is its effect on insulin. 

Studies have shown that chromium deficiencies lead to reduced insulin functioning — resulting in elevated insulin and blood sugar levels over time. For this reason, chromium is one of the main supplements used to help with insulin activity in diabetics and people at a higher risk of developing diabetes. 

With the increased rate of processed foods, and over-farmed soils leading to a reduction in chromium levels in our foods — it’s becoming more common for people to experience problems with insulin signaling as a result of chromium deficiencies. 

This formula contains chromium picolinate — which is the form of chromium most commonly used for insulin resistance. This trace nutrient provides additional support for the 70% of PCOS sufferers experiencing problems with insulin levels and blood sugar. 

Conclusion: Why Three is Better Than One

Inositol is already popular among PCOS sufferers, and there’s a ton of scientific evidence to support its use for both hormonal and metabolic issues. 

Studies have found the addition of another essential vitamin, folate, makes the effects of inositol even stronger. For this reason, we recommend looking for supplements that combine both ingredients (either folate or folic acid forms) for optimal benefit. 

We’ve also added chromium to provide additional blood sugar support. 

You can order our inositol, folate, and chromium supplement here. 

All our supplements are made with natural ingredients and avoid the use of fillers or preservatives. 

References

  1. Kalra, B., Kalra, S., & Sharma, J. B. (2016). The inositols and polycystic ovary syndrome. Indian journal of endocrinology and metabolism, 20(5), 720.
  2. Marshall, J. C., & Dunaif, A. (2012). Should all women with PCOS be treated for insulin resistance?. Fertility and sterility, 97(1), 18-22.
  3. Fruzzetti, F., Perini, D., Russo, M., Bucci, F., & Gadducci, A. (2017). Comparison of two insulin sensitizers, metformin and myo-inositol, in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Gynecological Endocrinology, 33(1), 39-42.
  4. Kamenov, Z., Kolarov, G., Gateva, A., Carlomagno, G., & Genazzani, A. D. (2015). Ovulation induction with myo-inositol alone and in combination with clomiphene citrate in polycystic ovarian syndrome patients with insulin resistance. Gynecological Endocrinology, 31(2), 131-135.