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Vitamin :: Inositol


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Other Terms:

Myo-Inositol | Vitamin B8


Water soluble. Any excess is excreted in urine. Needs to be taken in every day.

On this Page: What is Inositol · Benefits · Deficiency Signs · Foods · Supplements · RDA · Toxicity | Overdose

What is Inositol ?
Inositol, sometimes called vitamin B8, is one of the B complex vitamins that the body needs in small amounts daily to stay healthy.  However it is not officially recognised as a vitamin as it can be synthesized in the body from glucose, by intestinal bacteria.

The most common natural form of it is myo-inositol.

Inositol is present in all body tissues, with the highest concentrations in the brain and heart, and lens of the eye.

How Inositol Benefits Health
Inositol functions closely with choline as one of the primary components of cell membranes. It is important for growth of cells in the bone marrow, eye membranes, and intestines.

Like choline it is a lipotropic agent or fat emulsifier, though milder. It helps metabolize fat and cholesterol by breaking down fats into smaller particles that are easier to remove, and reduces fatty build-up in the body organs, especially the liver.

Inositol has a calming effect as it is involved in the production and action of neurotransmitters (chemicals that transmit messages between nerve cells) like serotonin and acetylcholine.

People who are depressed have been found to have lower levels of inositol than normal.  Inositol has been tested as a treatment for depression, and initial evidence is encouraging.  In a small double-blind study those on the supplement who took 12 g of inositol daily for 4 weeks showed significant improvement compared to the placebo group.

Preliminary findings from double-blind studies also suggest that inositol may help alleviate polycystic ovary syndrome, including infertility.

This list summarizes how inositol benefits the body.

:: Inositol Benefits & Functions
1. important in fat and cholesterol metabolism
2. mild lipotropic agent that removes fats from the liver and lowers blood cholesterol
3. has been found in studies to improve symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) including infertility, with significant weight loss and increased HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels
4. used to help prevent plaque build-up and arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
5. needed for hair growth and strong healthy hair
6. helps maintain healthy skin
7. has been used to prevent and treat eczema
8. considered a brain food as it works with choline in brain cell nutrition
9. needed, together with choline, for formation of lecithin, a key building block of cell membranes that protects cells from oxidation and forms the protective sheath around the brain
10. essential component of myelin that coats nerves and regulates nerve transmission, and may help treat nerve disorders
11. has helped improve nerve function in diabetics who experience pain and numbness arising from nerve degeneration
12. preliminary research indicates that inositol has a calming effect and may help treat depression, panic attacks and obsessive-compulsive disorder


Inositol Deficiency Symptoms and Causes
Deficiency is rare as the body manufactures inositol, and it is present in a wide variety of foods.

However, long term use of antibiotics increases the need for inositol.  So does regular consumption of more than 2 cups of coffee daily as coffee destroys this nutrient. Extremely high coffee intake can therefore produce a deficiency.

:: Inositol Deficiency Symptoms
1. eye abnormalities
2. hair loss or alopecia or patchy baldness
3. memory loss
4. eczema
5. constipation
6. higher cholesterol level
7. liver excess fat
8. hardening and narrowing of arteries (atheriosclerosis)
9. lower levels of inositol have been found in the nerves of people with multiple sclerosis and diabetic nerve disorders; supplementation may help as inositol benefits nerve transmission


Inositol Foods
Inositol is found in cereals, legumes and seeds, in the form of phytic acid. Phytic acid binds with minerals like calcium, iron and zinc, which interferes with their absorption. Concerns about this tend to be overblown however, and can be addressed by cooking or sprouting such foods.

Rich inositol food sources · cereals with high bran content · lecithin · fruits especially bananas, citrus fruit like oranges and grapefruit (except lemons) and cantaloupes · green leafy vegetables.

Other inositol sources · beans like red beans and kidney beans · brewer's yeast · brown rice · cabbage · liver · unrefined molasses · nuts · oat flakes · raisins · wheat germ · whole grains.


Inositol Supplements
Taking vitamins and minerals in their correct balance is vital to the proper functioning of all vitamins.  They work synergistically, which means that the effectiveness of any one nutrient requires or is enhanced, sometimes dramatically, by the presence of certain other nutrients.

For this reason, if you are looking to take supplements for maintenance of optimal health, the recommended approach is to take a multi-vitamin that has the proper balance of all the necessary nutrients your body needs.

For a list of reputable top ranked vitamin and mineral supplements chosen in an independent supplement review, see Best Multivitamin Supplements. Many of these are manufactured to pharmaceutical or nutraceutical GMP compliance, which is the highest multivitamin standard possible.

Keep in mind, however, that while vitamin supplements are useful to plug nutritional gaps that are almost inevitable in modern diets, and to ensure we get optimal doses of nutrients, they are no substitute for a good diet. Instead, use them to complement a healthy diet and lifestyle.


Inositol RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance)
There is no official RDA for inositol, which is not recognized as a vitamin. It is also difficult to list recommended daily intakes, as it is made in the body. As a rough guide however, many nutritionists advise a daily consumption of 1,000 mg for adults.

Higher doses have been used for therapeutic purposes.


Inositol Overdose Symptoms, Toxicity Level & Side Effects
No serious inositol side effects are known, even for therapeutic dosages over 10 times the normal dietary intake, except for diarrhea in some cases of very high doses.

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1. Levine J, Barak Y, Kofman O, et al. Follow-up and relapse analysis of an inositol study of depression. The Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences, 1995;32(1):14-21.

2. Benjamin J, Levine J, Fux M, et al. Double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial of inositol treatment for panic disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 1995; 152:1084-1086.

3. Fux M, Levine J, Aviv A, Belmaker RH. Inositol treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 1996; 153:1219-1221.

4. Gerli S, Papaleo E, Ferrari A, Di Renzo GC. Randomized, double blind placebo-controlled trial: effects of Myo-inositol on ovarian function and metabolic factors in women with PCOS. European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences, 2007; 11(5):347-354.

5. Gerli S, Mignosa M, Di Renzo GC. Effects of inositol on ovarian function and metabolic factors in women with PCOS: a randomized double blind placebo-controlled trial. European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences, 2003; 7:151-159.

6. U.S. National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute: Inositol. <http://www.cancer.gov/Templates/db_alpha.aspx?CdrID=44134>. Accessed 2009 May 16.

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8. Sharon M. Nutrients A-Z: A user's guide to foods, herbs, vitamins, minerals & supplements. 3rd ed. London, UK: Carlton Books; 2005.

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