Jun 27, 2023 • 7 min read

Best Vitamins & Supplements That Can Help with PCOS Weight Loss 

Medically Reviewed by Kim Langdon, MD on 07.16.23
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Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a complex disorder of metabolism. While the name suggests cysts on the ovaries, ovarian cysts are not seen in all women with the disorder. 

The most common metabolic and hormonal issues seen in PCOS are insulin resistance (sometimes leading to high blood sugar and diabetes), higher male hormone levels (leading to male-pattern baldness, excess hair growth, and acne), high triglycerides, skipped or absent periods, infertility, and obesity. 

Because almost all patients have insulin resistance and a predominance of male hormones, obesity and difficulty losing weight are common. Insulin resistance means insulin and glucose levels are both high. Because the glucose sugar cannot be used efficiently for fuel, it gets stored as fat. The excess of male hormones increases the likelihood that extra fat gets stored around the midsection.

If you have PCOS and struggle with weight loss, you may be wondering if there are supplements that can help you lose weight. The good news is—there are.

You may have never heard of a few, such as myoinositol, berberine, and carnitine. Others are more common, including cinnamon, omega-3 fatty acids, and B complex vitamins. 

This guide goes over many of the supplements that may help you lose weight with PCOS. We will also talk about how a PCOS nutritionist can help you decide which supplements might be best for you and how to incorporate them into your diet. 

Supplements that may help with PCOS weight loss

PCOS weight gain is a common issue. There is even a phenomenon sometimes referred to as PCOS belly because the disorder frequently causes excess fat to be stored around the midsection.

Learning how to lose weight with PCOS can be a challenge, but certain supplements may help. You’ll want to consult with your doctor to determine which, if any, of these supplements might help you. The purpose of this list is to educate you on the supplements available—not to provide you with the kind of medical advice only your doctor can provide. 

Myo-inositol

Myo-inositol is a component of the outer lipid membrane of every human cell. It has been studied as an addition to diet and exercise for those wishing to lose weight. Individuals with PCOS and other disorders of insulin resistance who take myo-inositol have improved insulin sensitivity. 

When your cells respond better to insulin, your sugar and insulin levels drop. This makes it easier to lose weight and may reduce your risk of diabetes. The side effects are minimal and may include fatigue, sleep difficulties, nausea, bloating, and headache. 

While women with PCOS can generally take myo-inositol, it cannot be used in women who have low androgen (male hormone) levels. This is not generally the case for women who have PCOS. 

Carnitine

Carnitine is a small molecule made from the amino acids lysine and methionine. It is a cofactor needed to create energy in the cells and removes toxic cellular substances. By enhancing energy production, fewer consumed calories may be stored as fat. 

While some studies have shown no benefit in taking carnitine, one major research project indicated that individuals with type 2 diabetes taking two grams of carnitine and a prescription weight loss drug lost about six more pounds in one year than those who used the prescription drug alone. 

Other studies showed that carnitine alone contributed to about three more pounds of lost weight compared to taking a placebo. Taking carnitine can mean you have GI side effects such as nausea, vomiting, cramps, and diarrhea. 

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Berberine

Berberine is a plant-based nutrient having multiple effects on the human body. It has been shown to alter the gut microbiome, block glucose production in the liver, and reduce lipid levels. It enhances insulin sensitivity and reduces belly fat. 

In one study, individuals who took 300mg of Berberine as many as three times daily had a significant reduction in their waist circumference—an average of 5.2cm after just 12 weeks. 

Berberine is considered safe when taken as directed by your doctor. You may notice GI side effects such as nausea and diarrhea. 

Turmeric

Turmeric contains curcumin, which comes from an herbaceous plant. It has a distinctive yellow color and is used in cooking all over the world. It isn’t an amazing weight loss drug but acts to alter the microbiome of the gut and reduce the chance of having a leaky gut and the inflammation that follows. 

As a supplement, it appears to reduce weight in humans with metabolic disorders common in PCOS. It reduces waist circumference, weight, body fat levels, and appetite so that PCOS symptoms will be reduced. 

Evening Primrose Oil

Evening primrose oil is a plant-based substance used to treat numerous female ailments and to assist midwives in helping women in labor. A few studies demonstrated a modest reduction in weight when using this supplement. 

It seems to specifically reduce central body fat, which is the type most seen in PCOS; however, the results of most studies are underwhelming when it comes to actual weight loss. Notably, evening primrose oil helps reduce total cholesterol and triglyceride values. 

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a common spice that has recently been studied as a weight loss supplement. The claims are numerous but mostly unsubstantiated as to how it works. About half to one teaspoon of cinnamon daily can result in modest weight loss.  More than six grams per day is not recommended due to toxicity. 

For those with high blood sugar or other metabolic issues like high cholesterol, cinnamon may lower these values and promote a return to normal metabolism. Cinnamon contains cinnamaldehyde, which appears to reduce belly fat. 

Chromium

Chromium may be beneficial for prediabetics or those with diabetes. It lowers blood sugar and improves insulin resistance. When used for those with insulin resistance specifically from low chromium levels, the insulin resistance will diminish, causing better blood sugar levels and improved metabolism. The potential for weight loss is greater among women with PCOS who have demonstrated insulin resistance. 

Cod Liver Oil

Cod liver oil is essentially fish oil. It contains the omega-3 fatty acids many doctors recommend for better health. In multiple studies, cod liver oil did not specifically cause weight reduction, but it did improve waist circumference in those who took it. Reduced waist circumference may mean that cod liver oil reduces visceral fat and fat located around the midsection. 

B Complex Vitamins

B complex vitamins are necessary for energy metabolism and nervous system function. Taking this vitamin might improve your energy levels. Depending on your prior vitamin B levels, you may gain weight, lose weight, or stay the same. There is no evidence that you will definitely lose weight when taking this supplement. 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are the same fatty acids seen in cod liver oil. Other sources of omega-3 fatty acids include krill, marine algae, nuts, other fish, and seeds. While you need these supplements for many reasons, research does not consistently report their usefulness for weight loss. 

Others Less Commonly Used

Numerous substances are healthy for you, particularly if your diet is limited in some nutrients. Vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, and zinc are all healthful vitamins or minerals. 

Zinc, for example, might be deficient in those with depression. By itself, it may not cause you to lose weight, but if it improves depressive symptoms so you are more active, it could aid in weight loss.

>> Find a PCOS Nutritionist That Accepts Your Insurance

Can supplements actually help with PCOS weight loss?

We have all been hearing a lot about medical weight loss recently, and there are now several options for PCOS weight loss medication. Whether or not you and your doctor decide to try one of these medications, you can also discuss supplements as a tool to aid in your weight loss efforts.

There are a few facts about supplements that are important to remember. While they are natural substances, they do have medicinal potential. Supplements need to be taken in the recommended amounts and per your doctor’s suggestion. Too little may not be effective, but too much can harm you.  

Focus on supplements with proven success in helping you lose weight. Those best studied include berberine, myoinositol, chromium, carnitine, and turmeric.  

When you and your doctor decide which supplements to take, the choice should depend on your unique situation and weight loss goals. 

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Take Control of PCOS by Partnering With a Dietitian

90% of Zaya Care patients pay $0 for one-on-one counseling with a Registered Dietitan

How a nutritionist can help with PCOS weight loss

Very few supplements can help you lose weight without also changing your diet and lifestyle. A PCOS nutritionist can help you create a PCOS diet by teaching you which foods to include in your meal plan and which to avoid. 

A PCOS nutritionist has studied nutrition at the collegiate level and maintains a focus on female health issues including PCOS. They can look at your current situation and work with you to develop a weight loss plan based on your personal goals and health issues. 

If you have PCOS-related diet questions, such as if the keto diet is good for PCOS, a nutritionist can help you sort through the pros and cons that pertain to your unique situation.

From the time you begin to lose weight until you transition to a maintenance eating program, you will be guided by your nutritionist to lose weight and body fat while reducing your PCOS symptoms. 

Here at Zaya Care, we can match you with a PCOS nutritionist that is covered by your insurance. You can browse our network of PCOS nutritionists and filter by things like visit type, languages spoken, insurance accepted, and more to find your fit.

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Take Control of PCOS by Partnering With a Dietitian

90% of Zaya Care patients pay $0 for one-on-one counseling with a Registered Dietitan

Christine Traxler MD is a family physician, lifelong writer, and author with a special interest in mental health, women’s healthcare, and the physical after-effects of psychological trauma. As a contributing writer and editor for numerous organizations, she brings a holistic focus to her work that emphasizes healing and wellness through daily self-care, connecting with others, and setting stepwise goals toward achieving more balanced and authentic lives.