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Home > Supplement Categories > Vitamins > Inositol
Exploring the Benefits and Side Effects of Calcium

Benefits and Side Effects of Inositol


Inositol Structure

What is Inositol?

Inositol or myo-inositol, as it is sometimes called, is not a vitamin in the strict sense of the word. Inositol is a carbohydrate that is produced in small amounts in the body, unlike vitamins, which are substances that are not produced by the body and must be consumed from the diet. Inositol is found in all body tissues, but the greatest concentrations are found in the brain, heart, and eye lens. It is produced by intestinal bacteria from glucose. However, inositol is also found in many foods and supplementing the diet with this compound confers many health benefits to the individual. It is therefore considered a pseudovitamin and has been classified as one of the B-vitamins (vitamin B8).

Together with choline (another pseudovitamin grouped with the B-vitamins), inositol plays an important role in the cell membrane structure as one of its components. Therefore it is found in most cells of the body and is important for growth and tissue repair. Fast growing cells, such as those in the intestines and bone marrow need inositol for structural growth and maintainance.

Inositol acts as a fat emulsifier, being a lipotropic agent just like choline. Its role in metabolizing cholesterol and fat is to break down fat molecules into particles that are easily eliminated. This helps reduce the build-up of fat in body organs such as the liver.

Inositol is also involved in the synthesis and function of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine and serotonin. These chemicals transmit signals between the nerve cells for proper functioning of the nervous system.

Inositol Food Sources

Many types of food contain inositol but the richest food sources are whole grain products, particularly cereals with high bran content, as well as citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit, and cantaloupe. Dried prunes, bananas, blackberries and kiwi also contain a lot of inositol. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, legumes such as kidney beans, okra, eggplant, and other vegetables also provide a good source of inositol. On the other hand, dairy products such as milk and eggs, meat, and seafoods are relatively poor sources of this pseudovitamin.

Inositol Benefits

Many studies have shown that inositol benefits the body in various ways. These include the following:

  • It helps lower blood cholesterol and removes fat from the liver.
  • It helps to prevent atherosclerosis by preventing fat build-up and plaque formation.
  • Strong evidence shows that it improves the fertility in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
  • It helps decrease symptoms of depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
  • It helps lower blood pressure.
  • It helps reduce excess weight, blood triglyceride levels, and blood glucose levels.
  • It helps reduce insulin levels and increase one's sensitivity to insulin, which can help regulate blood glucose levels.
  • It helps maintain healthy skin and promote hair growth.
  • Together with choline, it supports brain cell nutrition (brain food).
  • It helps improve nerve function in degenerative nerve disorders such as among diabetics, thus relieveing pain.

Inositol Supplementation

Inositol is naturally produced in the body and may be obtained from most foods in the diet. However, some people who are at risk of nutritional deficiencies due to certain health conditions or lifestyle habits may need to take inositol supplements. These include people who are being treated with antibiotics for long-term use, since antibiotics may reduce the amount of bacteria in the intestines where inositol is produced. People who drink too much coffee are believed to be at risk for inositol deficiency since caffeine may destroy this nutrient.

Inositol supplements may also be used to treat infertility in women with PCOS. Studies show that inositol may be effective in promoting ovulation in dosages of 200 mg, while higher doses, up to 4,000 mg taken once daily is more effective in treating other symptoms of PCOS.

Higher dosages of inositol may be needed for treatment of neurological conditions but lower dosages are effective for antidepressant effects.

In general, health experts recommend eating a healthy, balanced diet that includes a variety of foods to obtain all the nutrients one needs to promote and maintain good health.

Inositol Side Effects

Inositol is considered a safe drug for most adults. Inositol side effects are very minimal and these occur only at very high dosages. Many studies evaluating the therapeutic effects of inositol using high dosages show that inositol I swell tolerated up to ten times the usual daily intake. Side effects include gastrointestinal disturbances such as diarrhea, nausea and flatus. The intensity of side effects do not increase with increasing dosage.

In studies dealing with pregnant women, inositol has likewise been shown to be safe. These studies usually administered doses of up to 4 grams daily to women of various stages of pregnancy up to their delivery.

Inositol Dosage

No official recommended daily allowance (RDA) has been set for inositol, since it is not recognized as an essential nutrient or a vitamin. It is manufactured in the body and may be obtained from most foods. Many nutritionists however, advise taking a daily dose of 1,000 mg or 1gram for adults.

Scientists have used much higher doses for therapeutic purposes:

  • For infertility and other symptoms associated with PCOS, scientific research has used a range of 200 to 2,000 mg daily in women.
  • For treating panic disorder, a dose of 12 - 18 grams daily
  • For treating obsessive-compulsive disorder, a dose of 18 grams daily
  • For treating psoriasis that is caused by using lithium in the treatment of biplor disorder, a dose of 6 grams inositol daily
  • For preventing lung tumor formation, a dose of 18 grams daily

References:

Health Supplements Nutritional Guide. Inositol. http://www.healthsupplementsnutritionalguide.com/Inositol.html

Examine.com. Inositol. http://examine.com/supplements/Inositol/

Wikipedia. Inositol. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inositol

Disclaimer:

This information should not take the place of medical advice. We encourage you to talk to your health care providers (doctor, registered dietitian, pharmacist, etc.) about your interest in, questions about, or use of dietary supplements and what may be best for your overall health.


Please schedule a 30 minute consultation with our Licensed Nutritionist who will take your unique health situation into consideration to recommend the best protocol. (Note: we offer a $25.00 gift certificate with your consult that you can use towards your product purchase!)
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