Table of Contents
- What are Inositol and Myo Inositol?
- Health Benefits of Myo Inositol
- Provides Help for Diabetes Sufferers
- Guards Against Metabolic Syndrome
- Offers Protection for the Brain
- Provides Relief from Depression and Anxiety
- Treats Eating Disorders
- Improves Fertility Rate
- May Have Heart Healing Properties
- Decreases Inflammation in the Body
- Combats Negative Effects of PCOS
- Provides Support for Weight Loss
- Increases Levels of Serotonin and GABA
- May Provide Relief from Psychiatric Disorders
- Has Cancer-Fighting Properties
- Provides Protection for Lungs
- Supports Prenatal Development in Unborn Babies
- Mitigates Lithium Side Effects
- Promotes Healthy Skin
- Increases Longevity
- Side Effects
- Drug Interactions with Myo Inositol
- Do’s and Don’ts
Myo-inositol is a substance that many advocates of health supplements have raved about recently.
I have become very interested in the potential health benefits of inositol for myself, and I am sure you are also if you have heard many of the claims regarding this substance.
I started my research by answering for myself just what is inositol.
What are Inositol and Myo Inositol?
Myo-inositol is a substance that is naturally produced by the human body and is a member of the B-complex group of vitamins.
Myo-inositol is one of nine inositol variations and is present in food sources such as beans, nuts, and fruits (1).
Myo Inositol functions as a molecule that gives instructions to cells and supports proper cell behavior.
Myo-inositol is key to the proper function of insulin receptors and has been proven to affect the activation of the neurotransmitter serotonin (2).
Deficits in Myo-inositol production have been associated with the development of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
While the B-complex vitamin can be obtained from food, a body that does not sufficiently produce the vitamin will often develop problems with insulin sensitivity.
The ability of Myo-inositol to affect positively both PCOS and fertility, along with the substance’s ability to aid with symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome, have caused it to be seen as a general female health supplement (3, 4).
Health Benefits of Myo Inositol
Myo-inositol possesses a great number of positive health benefits that make the vitamin’s supplementation useful to many of us.
The following is a comprehensive list of many inositol benefits.
Provides Help for Diabetes Sufferers
Myo-inositol effectively mimics the glucose-lowering effect of insulin and also increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin hormone (5).
Oral supplementation with Myo-inositol stimulates GLUT4 mobility, which causes glucose to be transferred to skeletal muscle cells, resulting in a decrease in blood sugar levels.
In a study conducted at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, it was determined that monkeys suffering from obesity that was found to be insulin-resistant had their urine glucose levels decreased by dosing with 1.5 kg of Myo-inositol.
Not so surprisingly, an elevated level of Myo Inositol in the urine has been used as a marker for a diagnosis of diabetes (6).
In pregnant women, Myo-inositol has been proven in studies to decrease by half the rate of diabetes caused by pregnancy.
These benefits were greatest in pregnant women who were overweight.
Embryos were also observed to be protected from defective development caused by diabetes (7).
Guards Against Metabolic Syndrome
Much research has been done that demonstrates the many benefits that Myo Inositol can have in women with PCOS.
Among these benefits are the lowering of blood pressure, a decrease in LDL cholesterol, and an increase in HDL cholesterol.
In one study, investigators in Italy investigated the effects of Myo-inositol treatments on glucose tolerance, insulin circulation, concentrations of serum androgens, and ovulation in women who suffer from PCOS.
Forty-two women took part in the double-blind trial and were divided into treatment and placebo groups (8).
The study concluded that women afflicted with PCOS benefited from Myo-inositol treatments, with a decrease of circulating insulin and overall improvement for multiple metabolic factors.
Another Italian study similarly concluded that Myo-inositol supplementation proved helpful for menopausal women living with the effects of metabolic syndrome (9).
Offers Protection for the Brain
Signal transmission, as well as brain plasticity, are greatly influenced by the presence of Myo-inositol.
Fluctuations of these levels in the brain are often an indicator that a decline in cognitive ability may exist due to inflammation-causing conditions such as HIV and dementia.
Anorexia and depression are also diseases that can be affected by low levels of Inositol (10).
Myelinolysis is a brain disorder that is caused by low levels of blood sodium.
Myo-inositol can prove useful in treating this order by balancing levels of sodium in the blood, which has been shown to decrease behavioral abnormalities and increase survival rates in rats.
Human studies have shown that inositol levels are key to slowing the development of multifocal leukoencephalopathy, a condition that affects white matter in the brain (11).
Myo-inositol levels can also act as an alert to the location of seizures in the brain.
Monitoring these levels can be integral for preventing subsequent seizures for persons with a mild seizure disorder (12).
Provides Relief from Depression and Anxiety
Sufferers of depression are known to be inositol-deficient, and adult patients have found supplementation to be a great way to offset the effects of this disease (13).
A study done on children at the Ministry of Health Mental Health Center in Negev, Beersheva, Israel showed that OCD, panic, and depression were all positively affected by inositol supplementation (14).
Symptoms of anxiety, depression, and uncontrolled mood swings were relieved in women with both pre-menstrual syndrome and pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder by therapeutic supplementation with Myo-inositol.
Treats Eating Disorders
A double-blind study in Israel that consisted of supplementing with 18 grams of Inositol concluded that large-dosage inositol supplementation demonstrated the ability to provide relief for the symptoms that are associated with the eating disorder bulimia nervosa.
These symptoms are purging, binge eating, anxiety, and depression (15).
Improves Fertility Rate
Male infertility can result from many causes and affects the lives of many couples.
When the cause of infertility cannot be established, it is known as idiopathic infertility.
Studies have shown that Myo-inositol improves both hormone and sperm parameters in patients diagnosed with idiopathic infertility (16).
Male subjects with more defined infertility issues can also benefit from Myo-inositol supplementation, as studies have shown an increase in motility and the mitochondrial function of sperm.
The First Institute of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of La Sapienza in Rome, Italy sought answers to Myo inositol’s effect on erectile dysfunction in men with type 2 diabetes.
Diabetics can experience erectile dysfunction due to various causes, including nerve damage and lack of nitric oxide production.
In the study, 176 men with erectile dysfunction were divided into two groups.
One group was given 4 grams of inositol plus 400 micrograms of folic acid.
The second group was given placebos.
The myo/folic acid combination proved beneficial as a treatment alternative for erectile dysfunction (17).
Women with PCOS are known to have unbalanced Myo-inositol levels.
Myo supplementation can provide fertility-boosting benefits for women with insulin resistance and PCOS (18).
May Have Heart Healing Properties
Serum plasmalogen levels have shown a possible correlation with HDL cholesterol.
These levels decline with age, and this decline is possibly related to particle sizes for LDL cholesterol.
Researchers at the Department of Biochemistry in Tokyo, Japan investigated the effect of enhanced levels of serum plasmalogens on the metabolism of lipids.
The rise in serum plasmalogen levels was achieved by two weeks of myo-inositol supplementation, and researchers observed that increasing these levels improved the symptoms of metabolic syndrome in hyperlipidemic patients (19).
Decreases Inflammation in the Body
One study in mice exposed to Phosphatidylinositol demonstrated the ability to suppress inflammation-causing cytokines (20).
Combats Negative Effects of PCOS
The polycystic ovarian syndrome is a commonly-occurring hormonal disorder in women.
Most women afflicted with PCOS suffer from a problem with ovulation and resistance to insulin, as well as an abnormal elevation of male hormone levels (22).
Researchers at the Gynecological Obstetric Department at Milan, Italy enrolled 50 women with PCOS in a study that evaluated the effects of Myo-inositol for the treating of disorders such as hirsutism and acne.
After three months of observation, researchers determined that Plasma LH, levels of testosterone, and free testosterone, as well as insulin levels, were all reduced significantly.
Additionally, after six months of observation, it was shown that both hirsutism and acne were reduced (23).
Provides Support for Weight Loss
Myo-inositol is known to improve both insulin resistance and increase fat loss in mice.
Researchers in France tested these effects on a male mouse fed a high-fat diet.
Abnormalities routinely associated with insulin resistance were also observed in the experiment.
Myo-inositol demonstrated that it had the ability to encourage the breakdown of stored fat in the body (24).
A study done at the Policlinico Hospital in Reggio di Calabria, Italy evaluated the effect of Myo-inositol on certain features of metabolic syndrome in post-menopausal women.
For the study, 80 post-menopausal women suffering the effects of metabolic syndrome were enrolled in the study and divided into experiment and control groups.
The women were tested at the beginning of the study for insulin resistance, blood pressure, and lipid profiles.
The women who received Myo-inositol experienced vast improvements in both systolic and diastolic blood pressures, cholesterol levels, and HOMA index, as well as triglyceride serum levels (25).
Increases Levels of Serotonin and GABA
The pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder is a conditional mood disorder that can effectively disrupt both the social and occupational lives of women affected by the disorder.
The exact causes of PMDD are not exactly known, although the serotoninergic system is known to play a pivotal role.
A two-phase clinical study done in Rome was able to provide a clear demonstration that inositol benefits are powerful for sufferers of PMDD (26).
Similarly, researchers at the Faculty of Medicine in Canada concluded that Myo-inositol was an enhancer of sensitivity for serotonin receptors.
This is important because it has also been shown that serotonin has the ability to modulate both glutamate and GABA neurotransmission (27).
Due to the sleep-enhancing qualities of both serotonin and GABA, experts have concluded that Myo-inositol has the potential to be used as a treatment for insomnia.
Israeli research has also determined that inositol can be used with antidepressants that block the reuptake of serotonin, due to inositol’s ability to prevent any toxicity caused by an overabundance of serotonin.
May Provide Relief from Psychiatric Disorders
The latest research indicates that inositol can be a viable alternative for treating obsessive-compulsive disorder.
OCD is a psychiatric disorder in which patients experience obsessive thoughts and behavioral compulsions.
A study in Israel monitored the progress of 18 individuals diagnosed with an obsessive-compulsive disorder who were treated with 18 mg of myo-inositol or a placebo for a period of six weeks.
Testing for the Yale-Brown Obsession Compulsive Scale after six weeks resulted in much lower scores for patients who were treated with myo-inositol.
The researchers of this study concluded that Myo-inositol is an effective treatment measure for panic, depression, and OCD, all of which are disorders that respond favorably to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (28).
Conversely, research shows that patients who do not respond to SSRI’s do not gain much benefit from treatment with inositol (29).
Has Cancer-Fighting Properties
Myo-inositol has proven qualities as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immune enhancer.
It has also been shown that Myo-inositol can be preventative for a variety of cancers, and can slow or stop tumor progression in cancer patients.
Japanese researchers at the Kyoto Prefectural Institute in Japan found that combinations of carotenoids and Myo-inositol proved able to prevent the development of liver cancer in patients diagnosed with cirrhosis and viral hepatitis (30).
Further research done at the Center for Health and the Environment at the University of California in Davis, California demonstrated that Myo-inositol slowed the development of lung tumors in mice and rabbits that had been exposed to tobacco smoke.
These results have also proven to be comparable in human subjects who were heavy smokers (31).
Provides Protection for Lungs
A recent report evaluated the presence of lung effluent phospholipids, as well as the serum myo-inositol levels, in 19 infants with respiratory distress syndrome, six infants with other types of lung disease, and 22 newborns not affected by lung disease.
Additionally, myo-inositol was observed in the amniotic fluid and in the serum from umbilical vessels for 15 healthy newborns.
The report demonstrated myo inositol’s role in the lung maturation process in fetuses and newborns (32).
Myo-inositol also instigates healing in the lungs and is a catalyst for a decrease in lung lesions for individuals who are heavy smokers (33).
Supports Prenatal Development in Unborn Babies
Inositol levels were measured in 12 healthy infants born before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
These babies were monitored from birth until 10 weeks of age.
After two weeks it could be seen that serum inositol was directly correlative with the intake of inositol.
Additionally, serum inositol levels for infants that were breastfed were higher than for those newborns that were fed with formula.
Myo-inositol is determined to be an important factor in prenatal growth (34).
Women with PCOS were observed for oxidative-related changes in erythrocytes, along with anti-inflammatory effects, of inositol.
These conditions were measured before and after Myo-inositol treatments.
The study involved 26 PCOS sufferers of normal weight.
The women were divided into two groups, with 18 of them being placed in a treatment group, and the remaining eight a placebo.
Women that were in the treatment group were given 1200 mg of myo-inositol for 12 weeks.
The study determined that PCOS patients suffered from systemic inflammatory issues that led to alterations in the erythrocyte membrane.
Myo-inositol treatments are effective at treating a variety of issues that plague PCOS patients (35).
Mitigates Lithium Side Effects
Patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder are commonly prescribed drug therapies consisting of lithium treatments.
Lithium depletes inositol levels, which results in the presence of patches of dried skin known as lithium-induced psoriasis.
Supplementation with inositol was documented to greatly improve the condition of psoriasis in individuals undergoing a lithium regimen (36).
Promotes Healthy Skin
A study done at the First Institute of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of La Sapienza in Rome, Italy began with the stated aim of evaluating the effects of myo-inositol for women who suffered from hirsute.
Forty-six women were enrolled in the study and were each evaluated for a number of indicators at baseline, and then again after receiving six months of myo-inositol therapy.
The result of the study was the conclusive demonstration that myo-inositol reduced the presence of hirsutism while lowering blood androgens and benefiting metabolic profiles (37).
A second study completed in Milan, Italy reported that the administration of Myo-inositol is considered to be a safe and effective treatment for both acne and hirsutism, and provides ample benefits to the metabolic profile in PCOS patients (38).
D chiro-inositol, an inositol family member that is produced in the body by the conversion of Myo-inositol, was believed to have cancer preventive, diabetes preventive, and inflammation preventive properties.
A recent study in fruit flies performed at the Department of Biological Sciences in Korea proved not only that these beliefs were founded, but it was also demonstrated that D chiro-inositol was capable of extending the life expectancies of the fruit flies (39).
Though generally assumed to be safe for consumption, there are a few relatively important cautions to be mindful of when considering supplementing with Myo-inositol.
Some potential inositol side effects are:
- Myo-inositol has been associated with symptom complications in Alzheimer’s disease and has been observed to contribute to poor brain function in children who had suffered a traumatic brain injury.
- Myo-inositol can possibly be harmful to neurons and can be responsible for tissue abnormalities.
- When not properly metabolized, Myo-inositol can cause nerve damage due to diabetes.
- Myo-inositol may be responsible for negatively impacting the immune system.
Less severe potential side effects of Myo-inositol supplementation are fatigue, nausea, and problems with the digestive system.
Individuals wishing to treat polycystic ovarian syndrome with Myo-inositol supplementation have a wide range of choices with regard to dosage amounts.
Dosage ranges from 200-4000 mg have been used to treat PCOS.
The effectiveness of Myo-inositol supplementation in treating PCOS does appear to be dose-dependent, so it may be most effective to take larger doses when tolerable.
The treatment of neurological issues with Myo-inositol supplementation tends to necessitate higher dosage requirements.
Doses as low as 6 grams have been shown to provide antidepressant benefits, but typically dosage ranges of 14-18 grams daily are used.
When choosing soft gel formulations versus powdered forms of Myo-inositol, it is important to remember that 30% of the amount is needed in gel form to be equivalent to the amount stated in the powdered form.
This would mean that the 14-18 grams of daily dosage needed in powdered form to offset the effects of neurological issues would be reduced to 4.2-5.4 daily grams in gel form.
Drug Interactions with Myo Inositol
There are no known drug interactions associated with the use of Myo-inositol.
It is important to understand that this does not mean that a bad interaction cannot occur for a particular individual.
If you believe that taking Myo-inositol is interacting badly with other supplements or medications you are taking, you should discontinue use immediately and consult a physician before beginning again to supplement with this substance.
Do’s and Don’ts
Myo-inositol is a molecule that provides information to cells and can give many positive health benefits for users.
Dietary supplementation with Myo-inositol has proven to be most effective at supporting fertility in both sexes, the restoration of insulin sensitivity, and for reducing anxiety.
Myo-inositol is known to have a great number of positive effects on other aspects of individual health, as well.
There are no known drug interactions that can be directly attributed to Myo-inositol supplementation, but a few relatively serious inositol side effects can occur through usage.
These side effects can include, but are not necessarily limited to:
- Tissue abnormalities
- Problems with neurons
- Diabetic nerve damage
- Compromised immune system
Despite these potential adverse reactions, Myo-inositol is a substance that is considered to be generally safe for usage.
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.
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