Although PCOS is associated with menstrual irregularity and infertility, some women with the disorder can become pregnant. But once they do, the females in question are at greatly increased risk of PCOS-linked gestational diabetes – a form of diabetes that develops during pregnancy.
While gestational diabetes may go away after giving birth, it increases the chances in later life of the mother developing type 2 diabetes, which is irreversible in most cases.
Type 2 diabetes often requires daily injections of insulin for it to be managed and is a severely increased risk factor for blindness, heart and kidney disease and the need for amputation.
Researchers studied almost 150 women attending a gestational diabetes clinic for a year. On average, the women had been pregnant for around 35 weeks. They had blood tests during the third trimester of pregnancy to measure HbA1c (which reflects average blood glucose control over the previous 2-3 months) and vitamin D levels.
Of the women followed, 41% had low levels of vitamin D (50nmol/L or below) and high blood sugar levels. If neglected, the latter can lead to other PCOS-linked disorders like heart-damaging metabolic syndrome.
Vitamin D also helps your body absorb calcium, which your bones need to grow. A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone diseases such as osteoporosis or rickets. In addition, Vitamin D has a role in your nerve, muscle and immune systems.
You can get vitamin D in three ways: through your skin, from your diet, and from supplements. Your body forms Vitamin D naturally after exposure to sunlight. However, too much sun exposure can lead to skin aging and skin cancer. So, instead, many people try to get their vitamin D from other sources.
Vitamin D-rich foods include egg yolks, saltwater fish and liver. Some other foods, like milk and cereal, often have added vitamin D. You can also take vitamin D supplements. Check with your health care provider to see how much you should take.