Some supplements seem too good to be true, but with Inositol, also known as Vitamin B8, the benefits are far reaching, profound and scientifically validated.
Inositol shows tremendous benefit for PCOS or Polycystic ovarian syndrome as well as anxiety, depression, metabolic diseases, and sleep. Low levels of Inositol in the brain have been associated with depression, anorexia and other brain disorders.
While it is considered a B vitamin, because the body is able to make its own supply from glucose, it is not technically an essential nutrient, so it’s lesser known than the other B vitamins. But don’t let that fool you into thinking it doesn’t pack a powerful punch for a vitamin.
What is inositol exactly?
Inositol is a naturally occurring type of sugar that is made by your body and brain from glucose for a number of fundamental purposes, such as making neurotransmitters, insulin regulation, cytoskeleton formation, Ca+ signaling, breaking down fats and phospholipids and even gene expression (epigenetics).
Inositol comes is many forms and is found in many plant foods such as cantaloupe, oranges, beans, grain and nuts. “Myo-inositol” refers to a type of inositol that is not bound to any phosphates. It is the most common form found in the body and sold as a supplements, though D-Chiro inositol is also a popular choice. Some supplements combine these two forms into specific ratios.
What are benefits of taking Inositol?
There’s been a number of clinical trials exploring Inositol and PCOS, infertility, depression, anxiety, OCD, cognitive, decline metabolic disease, inflammation, acne, insulin resistance and more.
Inositol has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity and reducing insulin resistance that we see in different stages of metabolic disorders. This reduction of insulin improves ovarian function and metabolic states. Women with PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, who take inositol often experience dramatic improvements in their symptoms.
In fact, inositol supports ovarian function and oocyte egg health so well that it has been a fundamental part of the advancement of fertility and women’s reproductive health management. Inositol also shows fertility boosting properties for men by increasing sperm count and health.
So if you’re trying to make some babies, maybe skip the wine and share some inositol with your lover. Nothing says romance like regulating insulin.
Because inositol reduces insulin by increasing the body’s insulin sensitivity, it improves metabolic conditions such as diabetes, obesity, autoimmune conditions, neurodegenerative diseases, acne, ovarian issues, and even cancer.
Inositol has been shown to improve depression. Inositol acts as a secondary messenger molecule interacting with serotonin and other neurotransmitters. Inositol has been found to increase the sensitivity of the serotonin receptors, and creates SSRI or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor effects similar to Prozac.
One risk of antidepressant SSRIs is the risk of creating excessive serotonin levels in the brain. This leads to serotonin toxicity or Serotonin syndrome which can be fatal.
Administration of Inositol with antidepressants has shown to protect against Serotonin syndrome. Many studies suggest that Inositol can be as effective if not more when compared to SSRI antidepressant drugs for different conditions.
Inositol increases density of dopamine and serotonin receptors, which can improve mood, cognition and neuroregulation. By lowering insulin levels Inositol also facilitates the easy entrance of Amino Acids into the cell where they can be turned into important neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, gaba, and glutamate.
Inositol also shows benefit for OCD, anxiety and panic attacks. Studies show that it is just as effective as an SSRI for treating Bulimia and binge eating disorder.
Inositol displays a number of anti-inflammatory effects. This could be contributing to the benefits for mood, brain and hormone health since inflammation can be a contributing factor to all of these conditions.
Inositol can reduce LDL cholesterol, blood glucose levels, and the inflammatory biomarkers, C-reactive protein, IL-6, TNF-a and other cytokines. Inositol has been shown to reduce neuropathic pain and promote nerve health.
Inositol for super helpful for promoting quality sleep. It makes falling asleep easy, but does not act as a strong sedative like some sleep supplements.
Does inositol cause side effects?
There are very few reported Inositol side effects. For some people, if they take a lot, it can make them a little too relaxed and perhaps sleepy. While I definitely haven’t had this experienced personally, every person’s metabolism is unique.
My experience with Inositol
Inositol has actually become one of my favorite supplements lately. Every once in a while I try a new substance that makes a profound difference in my health and happiness and changes my quality of life. Inositol is definitely one of those supplements for me.
I use Inositol powder in the form of myo-Inositol. I like Inositol powder better than capsules because I don’t want any fillers like magnesium stearate or silicon dioxide in my supplements if possible.
Inositol has improved my mood, focus and sustained brain energy substantially. Typically, my brain struggles to not use all its energy in a mad dash and then crash later in the day. I have a lot of glutamate excitotoxicity which you can learn more about in another post. Inositol really helps counteract that excitotoxicity for me and reduce the overstimulation of my brain.
Inositol helps me feel more balanced, like my brain is pacing its energy consumption more intelligently. I feel calm, poised, and clear when I take inositol.
Often, my brain feels powerful, with high output but scattered. It’s a bit like a baby dinosaur,strong yet clumsy. Inositol feels like it consolidates and focuses my brain power into an organized, cohesive direction, ultimately leading to a more energetically efficient brain state.
Inositol also helped me a lot with blood sugar regulation and sugar cravings. I have a history of struggling with impulsive eating and overeating in general. With inositol, I have way more stability in my blood sugar. I don’t over eat nearly as much and I don’t reach for sweets or sugary foods. It’s amazing.
I can’t stress enough how important this supplement has become to my daily routine.
Here’s a recap on why you should probably take Inositol
Inositol has an incredible safety profile with tremendous benefits and virtually no side effects for most people. It’s inexpensive, easy to get, and is safe to take, even in conjunction with pharmaceutical antidepressants or anxiety medications.
Inositol is easy to take. It’s very water soluble and so it can be dissolved in water or juice easily. Also, it has a naturally sweet flavor, so you can actually just put it straight into your mouth.
If you have stress, anxiety, hormonal issues, PCOS, acne, trouble focusing or sugar cravings, you should probably give Inositol a try!
Recommended Inositol Dosage and Form
I recommend the myo-inositol form because it’s inexpensive and accessible and seems to be highly effective in the clinical research. The D-chiro can be quite a bit pricier, so I think the Myo-Inositol is perfectly fine for most people’s needs.
Many people recommend the Inositol IP6 form. I personally don’t recommend this form. Inositol IP6 is also known as phytic acid. Phytic acid is a compounds that acts as a protective lectin in grain, nuts and beans.
While IP6 shows value in reducing cancer cell growth and excessive cell reproduction, it also acts as an antinutrient and binds to iron, zinc and other minerals. Unless you’re battling cancer or have concern that you are at risk of cancer, I think the detriment of the nutrient-binding effects of the IP6 are more of a net negative than a positive, but that’s just my feeling and it could change in the future.
The appropriate Inositol dosage as always depends on the individuals needs and goals. The average recommended dose is between 1-3 grams per day, ideally split up into 2-3 doses throughout the day. In some clinical research for depression, patients are taking up to 12 g per day. For PCOS, some recommend 4g per day. Clinical trials on OCD look at up to 14g per day.
The thing is, everybody is unique, you may do better with smaller doses, or larger doses. Luckily Inositol is incredibly safe, with almost no side effects, so you have a wide range of dosage that you can explore to find out what works best for you.
I would personally recommend starting with 2gs per day, split into 2 doses, see how it goes. You can then increase or decrease the dosage as you feel into its effects. Always honor your body’s inner wisdom.
If you’re looking for a more comprehensive mood and stress support supplement that has inositol in it, Be sure to check out EntheoZen’s product, TransZen, formulated by the one and only me. It contains 17 scientifically-studied ingredients based on cutting edge neuroscience literature on mood disorders. It’s made in the US in a certified GMP NSF facility and is lab tested for purity and potency.
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Genazzani AD. Inositol as putative integrative treatment for PCOS. Reprod Biomed Online. 2016;33(6):770-780. doi:10.1016/j.rbmo.2016.08.024
Laganà AS, Garzon S, Casarin J, Franchi M, Ghezzi F. Inositol in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Restoring Fertility through a Pathophysiology-Based Approach. Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2018;29(11):768-780. doi:10.1016/j.tem.2018.09.001
Shirayama Y, Takahashi M, Osone F, Hara A, Okubo T. Myo-inositol, Glutamate, and Glutamine in the Prefrontal Cortex, Hippocampus, and Amygdala in Major Depression. Biol Psychiatry Cogn Neurosci Neuroimaging. 2017;2(2):196-204. doi:10.1016/j.bpsc.2016.11.006
Mukai T, Kishi T, Matsuda Y, Iwata N. A meta-analysis of inositol for depression and anxiety disorders. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2014;29(1):55-63. doi:10.1002/hup.2369