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Inositol benefits are extensive. A natural compound, inositol can help everything from mood to metabolism. Inositol is also known as vitamin B8, despite not being a vitamin. Inositol is involved in so many important cellular processes in the human body. Below, we go into everything you should know about the benefits of inositol and using it as a supplement.
Inositol in supplement form can include the following products:
- Inositol hexaphosphate (IP6)
Key Inositol Benefits
Conditions inositol may help with, based on research and clinical trials, include:
- Depressive symptoms
- Mood swings
- Diabetes and the action of insulin
- Metabolic syndrome and out-of-balance metabolic factors
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Improving fertility and pregnancy rates
- High cholesterol
- Panic disorder
- Compulsive behaviors like binge eating
- Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder
Inositol research also indicates it may help slow the progression of cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s and have anti-cancer benefits. While the evidence is limited, people also use inositol to promote hair growth.
What Is Inositol?
Inositol naturally occurs in fruits, grains, nuts, and beans. Also known as vitamin B8, inositol is something your body can produce when you eat carbohydrates. There are many well-researched health benefits of taking it as a supplement in addition to getting it from food sources, like brown rice.
Inositol, as mentioned, isn’t a vitamin—it’s a type of sugar. Inositol is part of your cell membranes, making it a structural component of your body. The sugar compound also has a role in insulin’s action, and it affects chemical messengers in the brain including dopamine and serotonin. We, on average, get around one gram of inositol per day from the foods we eat. Supplemental inositol doses are much higher, and research shows there may be benefits of taking up to 18 grams a day, with few side effects.
Types of Inositol
There are a few different types of inositol supplements that are most commonly used.
We give a few details on these below.
Myo-Inositol and D-Chiro Inositol
Myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol have similarities to one another, but they have different roles.
Myo-inositol is a type of supplement you might use primarily if your goal is to regulate your blood sugar. D-chiro-inositol is better to help with glycogen synthesis and storage. However, using them together is especially beneficial if dealing with metabolic syndrome, diabetes, or PCOS.
Myo-inositol supplementation is effective in helping with some anxiety disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder and panic attacks, and other mental health conditions.
For PCOS, using a supplement with a ratio of Myo- and D-chiro inositol at 40:1 appears to be most promising. Supplements using this ratio can help increase fertility rate, restore healthy ovulation and reduce some of the side effects of PCOS like acne and facial hair.
Also known as IP6, phytic acid, or phytate, inositol hexaphosphate has been shown in some lab studies to help prevent cancer or perhaps have anticancer benefits. There is also research showing IP6 can help reduce the symptoms of cancer treatment like chemotherapy.
Other potential benefits of IP6 include the ability to improve the immune system, reduce the formation of kidney stones, lower cholesterol and reduce pathological platelet activity.
IP6 is an antioxidant, and it can reduce damage to DNA and cells.
In both test tube and animal studies, IP6 combined with inositol has been shown to kill cancer cells, probably because of its ability to stimulate immunity. There also seems to be a role for IP6 in the expression of certain genes that play a role in the development and recovery of cancer. More research is ongoing.
We’ve touched on some of the many benefits of inositol above, but we’re going to go into more detail about what these benefits might be for your mental and physical health.
Mental Health Inositol Benefits
One of the most compelling areas of interest as far as the benefits of inositol powder and other supplements are how it can help your brain chemicals. For example, researchers believe inositol can positively affect brain chemicals like dopamine and serotonin that play a role in mood.
Researchers discovered that some depressed people and people with anxiety and compulsive disorders have lower levels of inositol in their brains.
For example, in one study, 12 grams of inositol taken every day for four weeks improved symptoms in people with depression.
In preliminary studies of the clinical applications, there appear to be promising benefits of inositol for bipolar disorder, bipolar spectrum disorders, bipolar mood disorder, and affective disorder. It might be possible to combine inositol with antidepressant medications for more benefits but talk to your health care provider first.
There have also been studies finding possible benefits of inositol for panic disorder.
Metabolic Syndrome Inositol Benefits
Metabolic syndrome is a set of conditions that can raise the risk of chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The five conditions that are part of metabolic syndrome include:
- Excess fat in the abdominal area
- High blood triglyceride levels
- Low HDL or good cholesterol levels
- High blood pressure
- Raised blood sugar
Clinical studies show supplementing with inositol could help with metabolic syndrome and have general beneficial metabolic effects.
In a clinical study spanning a year, 80 women with metabolic syndrome took two grams of inositol twice a day, and the results highlighted the efficacy of inositol. They had an average of a 34% reduction in blood triglyceride levels. The average decline in total cholesterol levels was 22%. Study participants also experienced improvements in blood sugar and blood pressure.
Twenty percent of the women in the study no longer met the criteria for metabolic syndrome by completion of the study.
There is a fair amount of research finding inositol benefits as far as anticancer effects. In particular, IP6 has potential benefits for preventing or slowing cancer.
In different experimental models, IP6 has been shown to have significant anti-cancer benefits. The best results occur when IP6 is combined with inositol. IP6 can help reduce the proliferation of cancer cells based on current studies, and it can increase the differentiation of malignant cells. That can lead to a reversion to a normal phenotype and normalization of cellular functions.
There are also fewer direct anticancer benefits of inositol. For example, it can help improve immunity, and thanks to the antioxidant properties, it may help with the destruction of tumor cells.
When IP6 is taken with chemotherapy, it may help enhance the anticancer benefits of the treatment, control metastases, and improve quality of life. For example, in one study of breast cancer patients, taking IP6+Inositol as adjunctive therapy to traditional medical treatment and chemotherapy helped preserve quality of life and lower side effects.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Inositol Benefits
Polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS is a condition leading to hormonal imbalances in women. If you struggle with PCOS, you may have female infertility and irregular periods. Other complications of PCOS include high blood sugar, high cholesterol levels, and weight gain.
There is a good bit of evidence that among inositol’s many benefits is the potential it can help with PCOS symptoms, especially if you combine it with folic acid. Inositol may balance out hormone levels and androgen levels, including testosterone levels and estrogen levels in women with PCOS, reducing body hair and other detrimental effects of the condition.
Normalizing an elevated level of androgens can create a hormone profile more similar to healthy women and promote female fertility.
Clinical studies support that taking inositol daily and folic acid may improve insulin function and lower triglyceride levels in PCOS. There’s also early research showing a combination of inositol and folic acid could promote ovulation in women with PCOS-related fertility issues.
In one study, participants were given 4 grams per day of inositol and 400 mcg of folic acid a day for three months. That combination led to ovulation in 62% of the women treated.
If you have high blood sugar when you’re pregnant, it’s called gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes leads to complications in up to 10% of pregnant women in the U.S. annually. When looking at animal studies, inositol helps the function of insulin. Insulin is a hormone regulating blood sugar levels.
A few studies are looking at the benefits of inositol on humans with diabetes during pregnancy for reducing adverse effects.
The daily dose of 4 grams of Myo-inositol and 400 mcg of folic acid demonstrated potential benefits in a trial of inositol treatment when taken daily throughout your pregnancy, but more research is needed.
Inositol and Autism
There are some theories that inositol benefits might extend to autism, but there’s less clear-cut evidence on this than the benefits above, which are backed by a fair amount of research. Inositol does help with the production of neurotransmitters, including dopamine and serotonin.
Those neurotransmitters help with mood and emotional regulation. Inositol can also help regulate moods because it regulates blood sugar levels.
Inositol supplementation has shown improvements in panic disorder, OCD, and depression.
While theoretically, it would seem like inositol could benefit children with autism, research hasn’t backed that up. An older study looked at nine children with autism, and they were given 200 mg/kg of inositol a day. No benefits were found.
Future studies will likely continue to look at the possibility, however, because inositol might improve serotonin effects, and ongoing research could look at the benefits of supplementing with inositol in children already taking SSRIs.
Inositol Benefits for Men
There are inositol benefits for men specifically, in addition to the health benefits of the supplement for women. Particular inositol benefits for men include:
- When dealing with inflammation and oxidative stress, it can affect your glucose metabolism, fertility, and sperm quality. Chronic oxidative stress can seriously affect male health. Inositol is a good way to reduce some of this inflammation in body tissue because of the antioxidant mechanisms.
- Inositol is a glucose-like compound with glycemic control. That means that it can help support better insulin sensitivity and healthier blood sugar levels especially in people with type 2 diabetes.
- When you don’t have adequate inositol levels from the food you eat, it can affect your skin health, and supplementing it can help improve that.
- If you have metabolic syndrome as a man, not only can inositol benefit the symptoms, but it can also improve impaired sperm motility and sperm quality linked to the condition. In one study, researchers found inositol when used with other vitamins and micronutrients was an effective therapy for metabolic disorders and sperm-related and hormonal changes that lead to male infertility.
- Inositol benefits on mental health can, of course, be relevant to men as well. For example, in one older study participants were given a 12-gram dose of inositol. The researchers found an improvement in depression symptoms compared to the placebo group.
As a note here, Myo-inositol tends to be the better type of supplement if your goal is primarily metabolic benefits or fertility benefits. On the other hand, D-chiro-inositol is more geared toward women’s health needs.
Other Inositol Benefits
The following are some of the other potential benefits of inositol powder and other types of these dietary supplements.
- Inositol is good for hormone-balancing in women in general, even outside of PCOS. For example, researchers have found taking an inositol supplement may be helpful for metabolic syndrome symptoms in post-menopausal women. Researchers found Myo-inositol supplements helped improve systolic and diastolic blood pressure, cholesterol, and serum triglyceride levels, sometimes as much if not more than prescription medication in postmenopausal women.
- For people who take lithium to treat certain mental health disorders, inositol might reduce drug-induced psoriasis symptoms.
- Since inositol affects dopamine and serotonin levels, it may be useful in the treatment of ADHD and post-traumatic stress disorder and the treatment of panic disorder.
- Inositol may help lower levels of high cortisol in patients.
- Another reason people wonder about inositol benefits is that they’ve heard it can help with hair growth. It may help somewhat, but there’s a limited amount of research on the topic. There’s a bit of evidence that since inositol can reduce testosterone and balance hormones in women with PCOS, this could, in turn, help reverse thinning hair when it’s associated with the condition.
Are There Any Side Effects of Inositol?
Overall, inositol is considered a safe supplement. The only mild side effects that we could find are nausea, stomach pain, or headache. Typically you wouldn’t experience these minor side effects unless you took 12 grams or more a day. You should be careful if you have diabetes, however, because prolonged inositol use can lead to hypoglycemia, which is low blood sugar.
While inositol benefits may help bipolar disorder, you should also be cautious about the potential for it to cause a manic or hypomanic episode.
If you take high doses of inositol, it could reduce your body’s ability to absorb certain minerals, leading to a nutritional deficiency.
How Much Inositol Should You Take?
Inositol is in foods, but as a nutritional supplement, it’s not regulated or tested for safety. That’s the case with anything that’s considered a supplement. Since supplements aren’t FDA-regulated, there aren’t standard dosages. It’s a good idea to talk to your health care provider as a result, but most manufacturer guidelines for doses might look like the following:
- If you wanted to take IP6 with inositol by mouth, which people often do to help with cancer symptoms, you might take a dose of around seven grams a day, up to twice a day.
- For metabolic syndrome, a lot of the research on inositol benefits says a good dose is around two grams, twice a day.
- For PCOS symptoms, the dosage is also around two grams twice a day.
- If you’re taking inositol to help with anxiety or panic attacks, you can take up to 12 grams a day.
Always follow the dosage instructions on the package of whatever specific inositol powder or product you choose. Again this is not medical advice, so you should speak to your health care provider.
What Are the Best Inositol Supplements?
I take an IP6 supplement every day, as does my husband, which is the IP6 gold. I’ll include it below and a couple of other great inositol supplements.
I use IP6 gold every day, and I’m a big fan. The following are a few things to know about the IP6 Gold Immune Support formula:
- Available in powder or capsule form
- Made from the purest IP6 and Myo-Inositol sourced from Japan
- No unnecessary fillers
- It helps neutralize free radicals and reduce inflammation
- Scientifically shown to improve immune function, kidney health, and brain health
- Also beneficial for cardiovascular health and glucose metabolism
- IP6 and inositol have undergone both animal and human studies
- In experimental studies, no adverse side effects have been found
- Should be taken on an empty stomach for best results
- You can take up to one scoop of powder or eight capsules twice a day
We have a full review on Ovasitol, which we encourage you to read. Benefits of the Ovasitol supplement include:
- Ovarian and menstrual support
- Helps promote healthy ovarian function and menstrual regularity
- Each dose contains 2000 mg of Myo-inositol and 50 mg of D-chiro inositol
- Dosing follows the body’s optimal ratio of 40:1, proven to have the most health benefits, especially for PCOS
- Promotes healthy insulin levels
- The Ovasitol product has been used in multiple university clinical trails
- NSF-International certified
- Physician formulated
- No gluten or additives
- Helps support healthy egg quality in women trying to conceive
Another great product with all the inositol benefits you’re looking for is the pharmaceutical-grade product from Jarrow Formulas.
- Readily absorbed
- Crosses the blood-brain barrier
- Supports liver health, as well as brain and muscle health
- Helps with nerve function, mental health, and sleep
- Each serving delivers 600 mg of inositol
- Reviews say it’s excellent for depression and anxiety, as well as intrusive thoughts
- We found a lot of reviewers who said this inositol helps with compulsive or nervous habits
Final Thoughts—Inositol Benefits
Inositol is a fantastic supplement with tremendous benefits for mental health, PCOS, fertility, and more. If you haven’t already, we encourage you to look into how it might be helpful for you. If you’ve tried inositol, let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Talking with qualified healthcare providers is vital before taking any supplement, including inositol.