Inositol, also known as myo-inositol or vitamin B8, is a lesser-known member of the vitamin B complex. This carbohydrate is a type of sugar alcohol, and it is used to help your cells respond to various transmitters such as growth factors, hormones, and neurotransmitters. Your kidneys naturally synthesise inositol from glucose, but studies suggest that taking additional inositol in the form of a dietary supplement may provide further benefits. Specifically, supplementary inositol may help with mood, diabetes, and fertility.
Like other B vitamins, myo-inositol is highly soluble in water, so it has high bioavailability and absorbs into your tissues rapidly.
No major regulatory agencies have assessed the dietary benefits of inositol, so there is no nutrient reference value (NRV) for this substance. Research indicates, however, that inositol may be beneficial in concentrations as high as 18g per day.
Aside from cantaloupe, most foods that contain inositol only include this beneficial nutrient in extremely small quantities. Therefore, it’s most convenient to get the additional inositol your body needs from supplements.
Your body uses both endogenous (body-generated) and exogenous (supplemental) inositol to facilitate proper interactions between your cells and various transmitters that move throughout your body. Within your cell membranes, inositol generates special molecules that help your cells become more responsive to important signals that prevent disease and promote proper tissue health. Science has determined that this B vitamin may help specifically with mood disorders, fertility, and blood sugar regulation.
Inositol supplementation is rapidly being recognised as a potential mainline treatment for women with PCOS. This condition is traditionally resistant to treatment, but recent research indicates that supplementing with myo-inositol may promote ovary health without causing any serious side effects. Since this vitamin also appears to mitigate depression, anxiety, and panic disorders while helping your body process sugars effectively, inositol appears to be an excellent supplement to add to your toolkit whether you want to improve your fertility or simply add to your overall health and well-being.
Since inositol is a water-soluble nutrient, this vitamin will start exerting its effects quickly and with high bioavailability. Your body needs time to adapt to increased vitamin levels, however, so it may be necessary to use inositol repeatedly over the course of 7-10 days to start noticing results.
As a water-soluble substance, inositol should fully absorb into your body’s tissues within 24-48 hours.
Once it is broken down into molecules that help your cells process signals, the component parts of inositol may stay in your cells until they divide or die.
Limited research indicates that inositol may directly prevent oxidative damage in human tissues. Even if this nutrient is not a direct antioxidant, it appears to at least exert indirect antioxidant properties.
There is no information suggesting that it’s possible to overdose on inositol. At concentrations exceeding 12 grams per day, however, this nutrient may cause mild side effects like insomnia and digestive discomfort. When used in reasonable concentrations, inositol does not appear to have any negative effects.
After ingestion, inositol rapidly dissolves into your tissues, where it is used to make molecules in your cells that help with proper hormone, growth factor, and neurotransmitter signalling.
By improving your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, using inositol may improve your metabolism and help you lose weight. Since this substance is gluten-free, non-GMO, and not derived from animals, using inositol does not interfere with any common dietary restrictions.
Most types of inositol on the market are produced using synthetic or semi-synthetic processes.
Synthetic forms of inositol appear to have similar bioavailability to natural forms of this vitamin.
Since synthetic inositol is made without using any harmful chemicals, there is no reason to believe that natural forms of this substance are superior.
Inositol is generally consumed in foods that are high in this substance or in the form of inositol supplements.
In 2020, a lab study showed that inositol may protect against heavy metal toxicity in the thyroid, which is believed to be one of the major potential causes of thyroid disorder. Also this year, scientists explored the potential benefits of inositol in preventing the cytokine storms that are commonly associated with COVID-19. In this Italian review of the potential evidence, researchers concluded that inositol may reduce some of the most severe symptoms associated with this deadly virus.