Understanding Inositol & What It Is For
Inositol has gained nationwide attention as a vitamin supplement that has dramatic health benefits. Also known as Vitamin B8, inositol is thought to regulate hormone levels. Capsules containing concentrated doses have long been touted by natural health fans for helping to suppress appetite and curb cravings, while others say it can boost fertility and relieve pain problems.
The information in the paragraphs below bring to our attention that additional inositol in the form of supplements may have some health benefits but there has also been some misinformation circulating that we want to clarify. Below we will discuss what inositol is, the possible benefits of inositol and what it can be used for.
What Is Inositol?
Inositol is a sugar made in the body from glucose. A human kidney produces around two grams of it per day. It also naturally occurs in foods such as fruits, beans, grains and nuts, so it is often consumed in a regular diet. Myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol are the most common supplement forms of inositol.
Inositol falls into a category sometimes called pseudovitamins. These play an important role in bodily functions, but do not necessarily cause health disorders when their levels deplete. It is also important not to confuse inositol with inositol nicotinate or IP-6 as these are a different type of compound.
What Is Inositol Used For?
Inositol is primarily used in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and is considered safe and effective to use. There have also been early stage studies and clinical applications of inositol in treating psychiatric problems such as bipolar disorder, depression, and panic disorders. It has been suggested that inositol helps balance mood-affecting chemicals, such as serotonin and dopamine
There have also been clinical studies that imply inositol can alleviate metabolic syndrome risk factors. However, it should be noted that scientific evidence for using inositol in treating these and some mental health problems is still in its infancy.
Inositol As Treatment For Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) symptoms can be alleviated by inositol supplements. PCOS causes hormone imbalances in women, which may lead to irregular periods and infertility. Other symptoms of PCOS include weight gain, high blood sugar and high cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
PCOS symptoms can be improved by Inositol supplements, particularly when combined with folic acid. Clinical studies suggest that daily doses of inositol and folic acid may help reduce levels of triglycerides in the blood. They may also improve insulin function and slightly lower blood pressure in those with PCOS.
Inositol is gathering support as a promising treatment option for PCOS. There are hormonal, ovulatory and metabolic benefits to using the supplement, however research is still considered limited by small study group sizes. As inositol is considered only additionally to any existing treatment, it is encouraged that you seek your doctor’s advice before starting on it.
Inositol As Treatment For Mental Health Problems
It has also been suggested that certain mental health problems can be alleviated by using Inositol as a supplementary treatment. Problems such as panic disorders, depression and bipolar disorder have seen some positive improvements when treated with inositol.
Inositol may be helpful for treating panic disorders but research is somewhat limited. One study in particular compared the effects of an 18-gram inositol supplement versus a common anxiety medication on individuals who suffered from panic disorders. Over the course of a month, it was found that those taking inositol suffered fewer panic attacks compared to those taking the anxiety medication.
Depression is another mental health problem that could be treated with inositol but research has had mixed results. An early study demonstrated that taking a 12-gram inositol supplement every day for 4 weeks improved symptoms in people with depression. However, subsequent studies were unable to show any significant benefits.
As with the other mental health conditions, research on the effects of inositol and bipolar disorder is limited but the results of preliminary studies seem promising. A small study in children with bipolar spectrum disorders showed reduced symptoms of mania and depression when a combination of 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids and up to 2 grams of inositol were taken daily for 12 weeks.
How Does Inositol Contribute To Weight Loss?
Inositol’s new found publicity as a weight loss supplement does have a scientific grounding but it should be emphasised that there are other factors that also contribute to loss of weight.
Inositol has been found to balance insulin levels, as is evident in the treatment of PCOS with it. Insulin is the hormone that controls blood sugar levels and excess amounts of insulin in the body can promote fat storage and increase hunger, leading to weight gain.
With inositol balancing insulin levels and reducing blood sugar, this can contribute to weight loss as it may lead to fewer sugary cravings. However, inositol itself does not get rid of fat or make you lose weight. The reduction in cravings will help with a broader weight loss plan that also includes regular exercise, a consistent sleep schedule, staying well hydrated and a healthy diet.
It should be noted, there are side-effects to inositol and some suggestions that regularly taking large doses of 12 grams or more of inositol can lead to nausea, indigestion, dizziness, tiredness and even hypoglycaemia, where the blood sugar levels drop too low. It is important to consult your doctor or GP before starting on inositol and if you have any side effects.
Inositol Can Be Used A Treatment, But Cautiously
Recent clinical studies into Inositol show that it does have some health benefits and it can be used as an effective supplementary treatment to certain illnesses. However, if you are planning to use inositol to complement the treatment of an existing illness, we would advise you to run this by your doctor or GP first.
In terms of the miracle weight loss stories surrounding inositol, we would urge caution if you are planning to use it as a weight-loss supplement. Despite the stories that have praised it as a miracle weight-loss supplement, studies are not conclusive and the effects of taking inositol may be circumstantial, especially when paired with healthy eating and regular exercise.
There are health benefits to inositol and it does have its merits as a supplement but it is important to understand exactly what it is supposed to be used for and to use it only as instructed by a healthcare professional.
Want To Try Inositol?
We stock a wide range of B vitamins, including B8 Inositol specific supplements, such as:
The products offered are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any illness or disease, or replace the advice of a medical professional. Results are not guaranteed and may vary from individual to individual.