Zinc isn’t typically on the radar for most women with PCOS but it should be! Studies are showing that women with PCOS have low levels of zinc. The good news is that increasing levels of zinc can improve many of the frustrating symptoms women with PCOS experience every day like acne, hair loss, and excessive hair growth. Here’s what women with PCOS should know.
What is Zinc?
Zinc is an essential trace metal that is required for over 300 enzyme functions in the body and it has effects on at least 2,000 genetic DNA and RNA transcriptions. A surprise to some, zinc plays a role in cholesterol and glucose metabolism as well as fertility. Zinc is involved in insulin signaling by inhibiting the enzyme protein tyrosine phosphatase to increase phosphorylation of the insulin receptor.
Adequate zinc is essential for a healthy pregnancy and crucial for normal sexual development in both men and women. Animal studies show that zinc deficiency affects ovulation, as well as effects on estrogen levels and the menstrual cycle.
Zinc for PCOS
While research is indicating women with PCOS have low levels of zinc (as well as other minerals like magnesium), it’s unclear if this is from inadequate intake or absorption, increased zinc excretion, or increased need for zinc. Compared to other women, women with PCOS have been shown to have similar dietary intake of zinc, so most likely, that is not the reason women with PCOS have low zinc levels.