Inositol is a type of sugar, or carbohydrate, that influences the insulin response and several hormones associated with mood and cognition.
What is inositol?
Inositol is often referred to as vitamin B8, but it is not actually a vitamin. It is a vitamin-like substance found in many plants and animals. It is also produced in the human body and can be made in a laboratory. Inositol can be found in many forms (called isomers).
Where is inositol found?
Inositol is found naturally in cantaloupe, citrus fruit and many fibre-rich foods (such as beans, brown rice, corn, sesame seeds and wheat bran). It is also sold in supplement form and used as a complementary therapy to treat a wide range of medical conditions, including metabolic and mood disorders.
It is widely available for purchase online, and inositol supplements can also be found in natural foods stores and those specializing in dietary supplements.
Inositol is found in many fiber-rich fruits and vegetables.
Milk is another natural source of inositol and it can easily be obtained from cows, goats and sheep. Milk products such as yogurt and chocolate milk also contain some amount of inositol as (0.06 – 0.16 mg / g) and (0.19 mg / g) respectively.
Many fruits contain inositol, a few are listed below with the amounts and if eaten on a daily basis, the level of retained inositol increases and it becomes effective for the body:
· lime at 1.94 mg / g
· mango at 1 mg / g
· pear at 0.73 mg / g,
· peach at 0.53 mg / g
· watermelon which contains inositol in the range 0.31 – 0.46 mg / g
The following vegetables also contain inositol:
· green beans at 1.05 – 1.93 mg / g
· aubergine at 0.84 mg / g
· cabbage at 0.7 mg / g
· onions 0.2 mg / g
· cucumber at 0.1 mg / g
· tomato at 0.5 mg / g.
Grains as shown below are also a great source of inositol and the best known grain having the greatest quantity is bran flakes:
· bran flakes at 2.74 mg / g
· whole wheat at 1.4 mg / g
· white bread at 0.2 mg / g).
· beef liver at 0.6 mg / g
· chicken breast at 0.3 mg / g
· ground beef at 0.3 mg / g.
In all of the above sources, bran flakes have the maximum amount of inositol while cucumber has the least at 0.1 mg / g.
What are the health benefits of inositol?
Inositol supplements can be beneficial for a wide range of health conditions, including:
· mental health disorders
· panic and anxiety attacks
· bipolar disorder
· acne and weight issues
- diabetes in pregnancy
- metabolic syndrome
- polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
· other potential benefits.
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 sparse.
Here is some more information about each of these conditions and how inositol can help:
Mental health disorders: research has shown that people with low levels of inositol in their brains are more likely to suffer from mental health disorders like depression, anxiety and compulsive disorders. Inositol has the potential for an alternative treatment of these disorders, and it has relatively few side effects when compared with other medication treatment.
Inositol is believed by some to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s and prevent
Panic & anxiety attacks: inositol supplements can be very helpful for panic disorder treatment. The most severe form of panic disorder is anxiety. Taking 12 grams of inositol per day can reduce these anxiety attacks.
Depression: can have a very negative effect on the normal functioning of human beings. Inositol helps to improve the symptoms of depression but there is not a great deal of research evidence to be specific.
Bipolar disorder: along with depression, research on the effects of inositol on bipolar disorder is not great compared with other mental health conditions. However, taking around three to six grams can reduce the symptoms of psoriasis which are a side effect of lithium, a known bipolar treatment.
Acne and weight: for weight loss, there are very few supplements which actually have much impact. Myo-inositol is one of the most effective inositol forms that really can help with weight loss because it acts as a secondary messenger and affects the hormones. It can also be used for the treatment of sex hormone imbalances and mood disorders.
The benefits of myo-inositol stem from how it interacts with cells. It is also considered as a member of the vitamin B family because of its importance, power and strong effects on the human brain. However, the effects are not limited to weight loss or treating POCS, here are other benefits:
· weight loss through hormone balance
· improved blood pressure
· normalized cholesterol levels
· improved hours of sleep
· reduced insulin resistance
· improve fertility.
Diabetes in pregnancy: during pregnancy, some women develop a high blood sugar level known as gestational diabetes (GDM). This is suffered by 10% of pregnant women in the US every year. A combination of four grams of myo-inositol and 400 mcg of folic acid helps to prevent gestational diabetes during the entire period of pregnancy.
Metabolic syndrome (MetS, Syndrome X): happens when the body’s tissues do not respond normally to insulin, and can result from being overweight and having a sedentary lifestyle. Approximately 80% of people with type 2 diabetes concurrently have MetS. The five pointers of metabolic syndrome are:
· excess amount of fat present in the stomach
· high blood pressure
· high level of triglycerides
· high sugar level
· low “good” HDL cholesterol levels.
Two grams of inositol taken twice a day can reduce the effect of all five pointers.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): mainly occurs in women with a hormone imbalance, which leads to infertility and irregular periods. POCS is also connected with weight gain and high blood sugar and triglyceride levels. When inositol is combined with folic acid it improves the symptoms of PCOS. Studies show that four grams of inositol mixed with 400 mcg of folic acid induced ovulation in about 62 % of treated women.
Other potential benefits: inositol is a potential treatment which can be used in many conditions, the most common being:
· respiratory distress syndrome
· obsessive compulsive disorder
· type 2 diabetes.
What are the side effects of inositol?
Inositol is generally considered safe in adults. Side effects, if any, tend to be mild and may include nausea, stomach pain, tiredness, headache and dizziness. Most side effects occur with doses greater than 12g per day. It should be noted that the metabolic effects of inositol may not be appropriate for everyone.
Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about inositol:
1. What does inositol do to your body?
Inositol is a carbohydrate that is found naturally in your body and certain foods. It plays many roles in your body, including affecting levels of neurotransmitters and the way your body handles glucose. It may be effective in improving some anxiety disorders and your body’s sensitivity to insulin.
2. How much inositol should I take for anxiety?
The dosage of inositol most often recommended is 500 milligrams taken twice each day. For the treatment of OCD, panic disorders and anxiety, this dosage is increased to 12 – 18 grams each day.
3. What causes inositol deficiency?
Increased urinary excretion significantly contributes to depleting inositol, and may represent an independent relevant cause of inositol deficiency during both renal failure and diabetes.
4. Is Inositol a vitamin?
Though often referred to as vitamin B8, inositol is not a vitamin at all but rather a type of sugar with several important functions. Inositol plays a structural role in your body as a major component of cell membranes (2). It also influences the action of insulin, a hormone essential for blood sugar control.
5. Does inositol help hair growth?
Some people use inositol to promote hair growth.
6. Can inositol help you sleep?
Yes. Inositol helps promote a feeling of calmness and peacefulness, which are the main factors in helping someone get a good night of sleep. Inositol can help improve communication throughout the brain, which is done by improving communication and releasing chemicals like serotonin.
7. Does inositol provide energy?
Inositol is a type of carbohydrate made from glucose that’s naturally produced in the human body, and is also found in fruits, grains and nuts. In high enough doses, it seems to have a positive effect on nervous system modulation, but the small amount in energy drinks likely does nothing. You are better off doing exercise to boost your energy!
8. When should I take inositol morning or night?
Inositol works best in your system when it’s taken regularly. Begin taking it daily to start getting the brain chemicals to balance out. The typical dose ranges anywhere from 500 mg to 2000 mg, which is . 5 grams to 2 grams per day, and it’s best to take it at night a few hours before you go to bed.
9. How does inositol help PCOS?
Taking particular forms of inositol (D-chiro-inositol or myo-inositol) by mouth seems to lower triglyceride and testosterone levels, decrease blood pressure, and improve the function of the ovaries in overweight or obese women with PCOS.
10. Do I need inositol?
Overall, inositol could have benefits for certain types of anxiety disorders, but more studies are needed to determine these effects. Summary Inositol can affect the neurotransmitters in your brain, including serotonin. High doses may be beneficial for treating some forms of anxiety disorders, such as panic disorders
Want to learn more about inositol? Try these recommended readings!
IP6 + Inositol: Nature’s Medicine for the Millennium
This book will teach you all about the health benefits of Inositol, the B vitamin, and IP6, Inositol’s derivative. You can get Inositol in your daily diet in items such as cereal grains (rice, corn, wheat, sesame, etc). There have been studies in the laboratory and in the clinic that demonstrate the benefits of Inositol, including preventative and therapeutic anti-cancer action, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, kidney stone, heart disease, osteoporosis, and more. The author of this book, Dr. AbdulKalam M. Shamsuddin is a Professor and Pathology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He is the president of IP-6 Research Inc in Baltimore, Maryland, and has used various experimental models to elucidate the benefits of IP6 against different cancers.
Nature’s Ultimate Anti-Cancer Pill: The IP-6 with Inositol Question and Answer Book
L. Stephen Coles, a physician scientist, thoroughly discusses the scientific evidence of the anti-cancer properties of Inositol. The author answers questions from patients about how Inositol therapy can help them prevent cancer, and discusses that IP6 is a safe, effective, and cheap alternative to traditional methods of cancer treatment. Customers overall left positive reviews and thought this book was very interesting and helpful!
Inositol – WebMD – September 2016
The health benefits of inositol – verywellmind.com – February 2020