Inositol is a collection of nine different stereoisomers but the name is usually used to describe only the most common type of inositol, myo-inositol. Myo-inositol is the cis-1,2,3,5-trans-4,6-cyclohexanehexol and it is prepared from an aqueous extract of corn kernels by precipitation and hydrolysis of crude phytate.
Health Benefits of Inositol
Inositol, also called myo-inositol, D-chiro-inositol, or hexaphosphate (IP6), plays a critical function in the body’s cellular growth. Though it used to be referred to as Vitamin B8, inositol is not actually a vitamin. It’s a type of sugar that helps your body process insulin.
Inositol used to be thought of as an essen tial nutrient, which is any nutrient that must be obtained from your diet. However, observations have shown that the liver and kidneys produce inositol from glucose, so it’s not an essential nutrient.
In addition to being produced by your body, inositol is also found in a wide range of healthy foods. Though inositol is a sugar that your body produces from glucose, diets high in sugar can actually inhibit inositol availability.
Inositol is essential for several different cellular processes. It acts as a secondary messenger for your cells and helps with functions such as regulating insulin and binding neurotransmitters.
Additionally, inositol provides health benefits like:
Improved Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic syndrome includes several risk factors such as high blood pressure, belly fat, and high blood sugar, which all increase the risk for diabetes and heart disease. In one study, women who were postmenopausa land had metabolic syndrome took inositol supplements for one year. At the end of the year, they all showed improvement in their metabolic syndrome. In fact, 20% of the women no longer met the criteria for having metabolic syndrome.
Reduced Chance of Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that only occurs during pregnancy. In one study, women at high risk for gestational diabetes were treated with inositol and compared to a group of women who were given a placebo. The women given inositol were less likely to develop gestational diabetes and less likely to require insulin.
Management of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is characterized by increased insulin resistance, which has side effects such as increased body mass index (BMI) and abnormal menstrual cycles. Inositol was as effective as metformin, a medicine that is commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes, at increasing insulin sensitivity in women with PCOS. About half of the women showed a decrease in BMI and their menstrual cycles returned to normal.
Lower Blood Sugar Levels
A type of inositol, D-chiro-inositol, combined with folic acid also increased insulin sensitivity in people with type 1 diabetes. People treated with inositol and folic acid had lower average blood sugar levels, known as HbA1c, than the people in the control group.
Decreased Panic Attacks
People with panic disorder reported fewe rpanic attacks while taking inositol than they did with fluvoxamine, an antidepressant that is often used to treat anxiety disorders. Negative side effects such as nausea and tiredness occurred less often with inositol than with fluvoxamine. Because it’s a natural supplement, people who are hesitant to take psychiatric drugs like antidepressants may be more willing to take inositol.
Improved Psoriasis in People Taking Lithium
Lithium carbonate is widely prescribed for people with bipolar affective disorders. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of lithium can be psoriasis, a skin condition. People with psoriasis who were taking lithium showed an improvement in their psoriasis after using inositol supplements. People with psoriasis who were not taking lithium did not show an improvement with inositol supplementation.
Because inositol is water-soluble, it doesn't have a high risk of overdose. Even at high doses, side effects are mainly limited to nausea, gas, and diarrhea.
There is no recommended daily allowance (RDA) for inositol. Two different formulas are used in supplements, myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol. Most studies administer between 10 - 18 grams per day of inositol to achieve desired results with minimal to no side effects.
Inositol: Health Benefits, Safety Information, Dosage, and More (webmd.com)
Inositol is a substance found naturally in cantaloupe, citrus fruit, and many fiber-rich foods (such as beans, brown rice, corn, sesame seeds, and wheat bran). It is also sold in supplement form and used as a to treat a wide range of medical conditions, including metabolic and mood disorders.
D-chiro-inositol, inositol hexaphosphate (often referred to as "IP6") and the compound myo-inositol are the most widely used inositol supplements. They are generally considered safe if taken appropriately.
In addition, inositol is believed by some to slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease and prevent certain cancers. Some people also use inositol to promote hair growth or overcome insomnia. Research, however, is lacking.
According to the latest research, inositol may be beneficial for some disorders, including mental health issues, PCOS, and metabolic disorders. Here's a closer look at the science.
Inositol is believed to improve depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders by stimulating the production of the "feel-good" hormones and . The hypothesis is largely supported by in which myo-inositol concentrations in blood is suggested a reliable marker for clinical depression.
In addition to panic disorder, inositol may be useful in treating (OCD), (ADHD), and (PTSD) given its effect on serotonin and dopamine levels.
When treated with myo-inositol, women with metabolic syndrome experienced an 11 percent drop in diastolic blood pressure, a 20 percent drop in , and a 22 percent increase in "good" high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
All of these values translate to an improvement of metabolic syndrome as well as a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.