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Benefits of Inositol Supplementation

Benefits of Inositol Supplementation

What is Inositol?

Inositol is a type of sugar made naturally in our bodies. It is typically stored in the brain and other areas of the body. Our body creates approximately 2 grams of Inositol per day, but it can also be consumed in the diet from carbohydrate-rich foods such as grains, nuts and fruits. However, supplementation has become a more popular topic of interest in recent years. There are 9 different forms of inositol, but Myo-inositol (MI) and D-chiro-inositol (DCI) have been shown to be the most efficacious supplemental forms.

This article aims to explain more about the roles of inositol in the body and the benefits of supplementation in the management of a variety of health conditions.

Bowl of healthy cereal and fruit

The Many Roles of Inositol in the Body

Inositols are linked to a number of important functions in the body. Their primary role is in mediating cell signal transduction in response to various hormones, neurotransmitters, and growth factors. Some of the many functions and benefits of inositol include:

  • Improving insulin sensitivity, which can be a helpful management strategy that is important for those with insulin resistance.
  • Assisting in regulating hormonal signalling in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which may improve its associated metabolic side effect such as blood lipid profiles and hormonal side effects such as hyperandrogenism.
  • Supporting the production of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin – which are linked to many mental health conditions including anxiety and depression.
  • Involved in the regulation of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which can improve egg quality and ovulation, therefore improving fertility outcomes.

Young diabetic woman having breakfast at home

Supplementation – When Would It Be Useful?

An RDI has not been established for inositol, however, low doses of 2-4 grams daily are well tolerated by individuals, and a supplement protocol can ensure there is an adequate intake alongside the usual dietary intake of about 1 gram per day. Conditions such as PCOS, metabolic syndrome, gestational diabetes and mood disorders may benefit from supplementation, as these conditions have been frequently linked with lower levels of inositol.  Therefore, correcting potential deficiencies through inositol supplementation can reduce symptoms that may occur as a result of the health condition.

Studies in these areas have shown benefits in utilising the following supplement protocols –

Inositol & polycystic ovary syndrome: 2g of MI and 200 mcg of folic acid twice daily for 6 months, led to reduced insulin resistance, decrease in body weight, and improvement in ovarian function in people with PCOS.

Inositol & metabolic syndrome: 2g of MI twice daily for one year alongside a calorie-restricted diet, led to a significant improvement in markers of metabolic syndrome. In the study featuring 40 women with metabolic syndrome, 8 women in the group taking MI no longer met the criteria for metabolic syndrome after the completion of the study, compared to just one woman in the control group.

Inositol & gestational diabetes: 2g of MI and 400 mcg of folic acid twice daily during pregnancy have been shown to reduce the risk of gestational diabetes by 13.5% compared to 6% in the control group in a study of 2,000+ women.

 Inositol & mood disorders: 12–18 grams of MI once daily for 4–6 weeks, saw an overall improvement in scores on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, as well as the Hamilton Rating Scale for Anxiety scores, agoraphobia scores, and Clinical Global Impressions Scale scores, were significantly greater for inositol than the placebo.

Myo-inositol Closeup. Myo-inositol is a commonly used supplement for treating PCOS symptoms.

Simplified Supplement Approach

Most conditions will benefit from 2g of inositol twice daily through supplementation. This protocol is relatively inexpensive and easy to follow.

However, a randomised control study has shown that the combined supplementation of MI and DCI was shown to be more effective compared to the MI supplementation-only group, after three months of treatment. This protocol involves supplementing with a 40:1 ratio of MI:DCI – this would be the equivalent of 2000mg Myo-inositol and 50mg Di-chiro inositol twice daily. This protocol is more effective, however, the supplements themselves are slightly more expensive.  An example could be this one.

Inositol Supplement OVASITOL

One outlier to these lower-dose protocols is supplementing for the management of mood disorders, where up to 18mg of inositol per day has shown benefits – but this is best done under the guidance of your healthcare team.

Potential Side Effects

Mild side effects have been reported with high doses of >12 grams per day, which is only recommended for those looking to manage mood disorders. The symptoms of which do include headache, dizziness, tiredness, nausea, gas and difficulty sleeping.

In addition, long-term supplementation has not been studied, and therefore there is no data to determine the safety of long-term use.

Final Thoughts

If you are reading this, you are probably interested in the supplementation of inositol.  If you are looking for additional support to manage any of the previously mentioned conditions, a 3-month trial of inositol supplementation may be helpful. Be sure to discuss the use of these supplements with your GP and other relevant healthcare providers first to ensure you find the correct form & dosage relevant to you.

By Samantha Staines

Sammy is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian from Brisbane, having undergone a Bachelor of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences and Master of Dietetics at the University of Queensland. Her work as a dietitian involves providing top-tier evidence-based dietary advice, however, she also prides herself in her provision of personalised approaches to nutrition, and practices with the motto that every time you eat, you have an opportunity to fuel & nourish your body - optimizing nutrition through abundance rather than restriction. Sammy has a background in team sports, running and strength training, where she practises her understanding of fuelling adequately and recovering in order to optimise performance. Sammy offers services both in-person and online.