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Home > Health Library > Inositol

Inositol is a naturally occurring nutrient that is usually classified as a carbocyclic polyol. The most common form of inositol is sometimes referred to as myo-inositol. In the human body, inositol plays a major role in preventing the collection of fats in the liver, as well as promoting healthy hair growth. The presence of the nutrient also aids in efficient processing of nutrients into the conversion of energy, which in turn helps the body to maintain a healthy metabolism. Inositol also can be considered brain food, as the nutrient is necessary to properly nourish the brain.
The sweet nature of inositol comes in part from the properties that make up the nutrient, in particular the component of cyclohexanehexol. While still a form of sugar, inositol works differently from glucose. The main information about inositol in the body has more to do with what happens when there is a deficient amount present. A lack of inositol in the system can lead to such conditions as constipation, high cholesterol, problems with vision and general health of the eyes, and hair loss.
While there is no doubt that inositol is helpful to the normal operations of the human body, studies continue to be conducted to determine if there is any definitive proof that adding more inositol to the diet will reverse any major health issue. Some studies indicate that inositol may impact illnesses like depression and cancer. Some researchers believe that inositol can work in conjunction with other nutrients to provide some recovery from an illness or health condition.

What is Inositol?


Inositol or cyclohexane-1,2,3,4,5,6-hexol is a chemical compound with formula C6H12O6 or (-CHOH-)6, a sixfold alcohol (polyol) of cyclohexane. It exists in nine possible stereoisomers, of which the most prominent form, widely occurring in nature, is cis-1,2,3,5-trans-4,6-cyclohexanehexol, or myo-inositol (former name meso-inositol). Inositol is a carbohydrate, though not a classical sugar. It is almost tasteless, with a small amount of sweetness. Inositol an optically inactive alcohol that is a component of the vitamin B complex

How is it Made?
Myo-Inositol is synthesized from glucose-6-phosphate (G-6-P) in two steps. First, G-6-P is isomerised by ISYNA1 to myo-inositol 1-phosphate, which is then dephosphorylated by IMPase 1 to give free myo-inositol. In humans most inositol is synthesized in the kidneys, in typical amounts of a few grams per day.

Where is it Found?
The most important sources of inositol are liver, brewer's yeast, dried lima beans, beef brain and heart, grapefruit, raisins, wheat germ, unrefined molasses, peanuts, and cabbage.

Benefits / Uses

arw Inositol is vital for hair growth.

arw Choline and inositol combine to produce lecithin which helps to prevent high cholesterol.

arw Inositol is said to have a calming effect on the nervous system and is therefore being studied for a possible treatment for nerve related illnesses such as depression, panic attacks and Alzheimer's disease.

arw Premature babies with respiratory distress symptoms are given inositol and it has been show to reduce death and disability.

arw Inositol compounds have demonstrated qualities needed in the prevention and treatment of cancer.

arw An inositol supplement can help to improve nerve conduction velocities in diabetics.

arw Inositol can be used to treat constipation due to its stimulating effect on the muscular action of the alimentary canal.

arw Schizophrenia

arw Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

arw Attention vdeficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

arw Autism

arw Side-effects of lithium treatment

arw Psoriasis

arw Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

arw Insomnia

When To Take / Type to take

Inositol supplements can be taken with or without a meal. However, if taken in a lipotropic formula, it should be taken with a meal.

The most common form of Inositol used in dietary supplements is myo-inositol (which is extracted mainly from corn). It is also available lecithin type products as phosphatidyl Inositol, and as Inositol Hexaphosphate (IP-6). As a supplement, IP-6 very different properties and benefits from myo-inositol or phosphatidyl Inositol.

In addition, the small amounts commonly found in multivitamin supplements are probably unnecessary and ineffective. Doctors sometimes suggest 500 mg twice per day. For depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, 12-18 grams per day has been shown to be effective in double-blind trials. There is no recommended daily allowance for inositol, but the normal human dietary intake is about 1 gram per day. Dosages in the range of 12-18 grams daily have been used for certain conditions such as panic disorder. For the management of depression and panic attacks, 12 grams of myo-inositol daily, in divided doses, were used in clinical studies.

Possible Side-Effects / Precautions / Possible Interactions
To date, there are no reported toxic side effects of inositol. The only known adverse effect of taking large doses of this nutrient is to suffer from diarrhea. Some of the reported problems with inositol include:

These are all side-effects that are seen in almost all medications or supplements, probably because such symptoms are common in all people, regardless of whether they are taking medications or supplements.

Reported Side-Effects with Inositol
There are a few less common, but more serious, inositol side effects that you should report to your healthcare provider. These include but are not limited to: Worsening of bipolar disorder (although this was reported in only one case and may have been caused by other factors)

Research Studies / References

arw A 1995 study showing improvements in unipolar and bipolar depression.

arw A 2001 study showing inositol to be as effective as fluvoxamine (Luvox) for the treatment of panic disorder.

arw Another study proving inositol helps in panic disorder, this time from 1995.

arw A 1996 study showing inositol is effective in depression, panic, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Or there is one giant mega-study, Inositol as a treatment for psychiatric disorders: a scientific evaluation of its clinical effectiveness. This mother of all studies collates the research and summarizes a lot of the current evidence on the benefits of inositol. It comes out in favor of using inositol for depression, OCD and panic disorder, but is not able to draw a conclusion where bipolar disorder is concerned.

arw ^ Merck Index, 11th Edition, 4883.

arw ^ Synonyms in PubChem

arw ^ Synonyms in

arw ^ The Chemical and Bio-physical properties of Phosphatidylinositol phosphates, Thesis for M.Res.. Imperial College London. 2006.

arw ^ a b Larner J (2002). "D-chiro-inositol--its functional role in insulin action and its deficit in insulin resistance". Int J Exp Diabetes Res 3 (1): 47-60. doi:10.1080/15604280212528. PMID 11900279.

arw ^ Gerasimenko, Julia V; et al; “Bile Acids Induce Ca2+ Release from Both the Endoplasmic Reticulum and Acidic Intracellular Calcium Stores through Activation of Inositol Trisphosphate Receptors and Ryanodine Receptors”; Journal of Biological Chemistry; December 29, 2006; Volume 281: Pp 40154-40163.

arw ^ Shen, X.; Xiao, H; Ranallo, R; Wu, WH; Wu, C (2003). "Modulation of ATP-dependent chromatin-remodeling complexes by inositol polyphosphates". Science 299 (5603): 112-4. doi:10.1126/science.1078068. PMID 12434013.

arw ^ Steger, D. J.; Haswell, ES; Miller, AL; Wente, SR; O'Shea, EK (2003). "Regulation of chromatin remodelling by inositol polyphosphates". Science 299 (5603): 114-6. doi:10.1126/science.1078062. PMID 12434012.

arw ^ Phytic acid

arw ^ a b c Nick, Gina L. (2004). "Inositol as a treatment for psychiatric disorders: a scientific evaluation of its clinical effectiveness". (indirect through Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients (October). Retrieved 2008-05-24.

arw ^ a b c Nick, Gina L. (2004). "Inositol as a treatment for psychiatric disorders". (direct) Townsend Letter; the Examiner of Alternative Medicine (October).

arw ^ a b Palatnik A, Frolov K, Fux M, Benjamin J (2001). "Double-blind, controlled, crossover trial of inositol versus fluvoxamine for the treatment of panic disorder". Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology 21 (3): 335-339. doi:10.1097/00004714-200106000-00014. PMID 11386498.

arw ^ a b Levine J, Barak Y, Gonzalves M, Szor H, Elizur A, Kofman O, Belmaker RH. (1995). "Double-blind, controlled trial of inositol treatment of depression". American Journal of Psychiatry 152 (5): 792-794. PMID 7726322.

arw ^ Fux M, Levine J, Aviv A, Belmaker RH (1996). "Inositol treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder". American Journal of Psychiatry 153 (9): 1219-21. PMID 8780431.

arw ^ Taylor MJ, Wilder H, Bhagwagar Z, Geddes J (2004). "Inositol for depressive disorders". Cochrane Database Syst Rev (2): CD004049. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD004049.pub2. PMID 15106232.

arw ^ "Bipolar disorder and myo-inositol: a review of the magnetic resonance spectroscopy findings".

arw ^ "Lithium and bipolar mood disorder: the inositol-depletion hypothesis revisited".

arw ^ Einat H, Kofman O, Itkin O, Lewitan RJ, Belmaker RH (1998). "Augmentation of lithium's behavioral effect by inositol uptake inhibitors". J Neural Transm 105 (1): 31-8. doi:10.1007/s007020050035. PMID 9588758.


^ Nestler J E, Jakubowicz D J, Reamer P, Gunn R D, Allan G (1999). "Ovulatory and metabolic effects of D-chiro-inositol in the polycystic ovary syndrome". N Engl J Med 340 (17): 1314-1320. doi:10.1056/NEJM199904293401703. PMID 10219066.

arw ^ Iuorno M J, Jakubowicz D J, Baillargeon J P, Dillon P, Gunn R D, Allan G, Nestler J E (2002). "Effects of d-chiro-inositol in lean women with the polycystic ovary syndrome". Endocr Pract 8 (6): 417-423. PMID 15251831.

arw ^ Nestler J E, Jakubowicz D J, Iuorno M J (2000). "Role of inositolphosphoglycan mediators of insulin action in the polycystic ovary syndrome". J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab 13 Suppl 5: 1295-1298. PMID 11117673.

arw ^ Silver SM, Schroeder BM, Sterns RH, Rojiani AM (2006). "Myoinositol administration improves survival and reduces myelinolysis after rapid correction of chronic hyponatremia in rats". J Neuropathol Exp Neurol 65 (1): 37-44. doi:10.1097/01.jnen.0000195938.02292.39. PMID 16410747.

arw ^ Vucenik, I; Shamsuddin, AM (2003). "Cancer inhibition by inositol hexaphosphate (IP6) and inositol: from laboratory to clinic.". The Journal of nutrition 133 (11 Suppl 1): 3778S-3784S. PMID 14608114.

arw ^'y2008m5d22-Ingredient-of-the-day-Guarana--Murdered-Child-Eyeballs

arw ^ a b Clements, Rex; Betty Darnell (1980). "Myo-inositol content of common foods: development of a high-myo-inositol diet". American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 33 (9): 1954-1967. PMID 7416064. Retrieved 2009-05-18.