What is myo-inositol?
Although myo-inositol is often referred to as vitamin B8, it is not a vitamin at all, but a sugar with several important functions.
As a major component of cell membranes, myo-inositol plays a structural role in your body.
It also affects the action of insulin, a hormone necessary to control blood sugar. Additionally, it affects chemical messengers in the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine.
It is estimated that the typical diet in the United States contains about 1 gram of myo-inositol per day. Rich sources include grains, legumes, nuts, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
However, supplementation doses of myo-inositol are generally higher. Researchers studied the benefits of an 18-gram daily dose, and the results were encouraging with few side effects.
May have mental health benefits
Inositol may help balance important chemicals in your brain, including those thought to affect your mood, such as serotonin and dopamine.
Interestingly, researchers have found that some people with depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder have lower levels of inositol in their brains.
Although more research is needed, some studies suggest that myo-inositol has the potential to be an alternative treatment for mental health conditions. It also appears to have fewer side effects than traditional medications.
Although research is still limited, inositol supplements may help treat panic disorder, a severe anxiety disorder.
People with panic disorder frequently experience panic attacks, which are sudden, intense feelings of fear. Symptoms include rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness, sweating, and tingling or numbness in the hands.
In one study, 20 people with panic disorder took 18 grams of inositol supplements or a common anti-anxiety medication daily for 1 month. People who took myo-inositol had fewer panic attacks per week than people who took anxiety medications.
Likewise, in a 4-week study, individuals who took 12 grams of inositol per day experienced fewer panic attacks.
Inositol may improve symptoms of depression, but research results are mixed.
For example, an early study showed that taking a 12-gram inositol supplement daily for four weeks improved symptoms in people with depression.
In contrast, subsequent studies were unable to show any significant benefit .
Overall, there is not enough evidence to show whether myo-inositol has any real effect on depression.
As with other mental health conditions, research on the effects of myo-inositol and bipolar disorder is limited. However, the results of preliminary studies appear promising.
For example, one small study of children with bipolar spectrum disorder showed that taking 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids and up to 2 grams of myo-inositol daily for 12 weeks reduced symptoms of mania and depression.
Additionally, research shows that taking 3-6 grams of myo-inositol daily may help reduce symptoms of psoriasis caused by lithium, a common drug used to treat bipolar disorder.
May improve symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a disease that causes an imbalance of female hormones, which can lead to irregular menstruation and infertility. Weight gain, high blood sugar, and bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels are also associated with PCOS.
Inositol supplements may improve symptoms of PCOS, especially when combined with folic acid.
For example, clinical studies show that taking myo-inositol and folic acid daily may help reduce triglyceride levels in the blood. They may also improve insulin function and slightly lower blood pressure in people with polycystic ovary syndrome.
Additionally, preliminary research has found that a combination of myo-inositol and folic acid may promote ovulation in women with fertility problems who have polycystic ovary syndrome.
In one study, taking 4 grams of myo-inositol and 400 micrograms of folic acid daily for 3 months induced ovulation in 62% of treated women.
Risk factors that may help manage metabolic syndrome
Clinical studies show that inositol supplements may be beneficial for people with metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that increase the risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Specifically, there are five conditions associated with metabolic syndrome:
- Too much stomach fat
- High levels of triglycerides in the blood
- Low “good” HDL cholesterol levels
- high blood sugar
In a one-year clinical study of 80 women with metabolic syndrome, taking 2 grams of myo-inositol twice daily reduced blood triglyceride levels by an average of 34% and total cholesterol levels by an average of 22%. %. Blood pressure and blood sugar also improved.
Surprisingly, by the end of the study, 20% of the women who took myo-inositol supplements no longer met criteria for metabolic syndrome.
Can prevent diabetes during pregnancy
Some women experience high blood sugar during pregnancy. This condition, called gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), complicates up to 10% of pregnancies in the United States each year.
In animal studies, myo-inositol is directly linked to the function of insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels.
There are a limited number of studies on supplements and GDM in humans. However, some suggest that taking a combination of 4 grams of myo-inositol and 400 micrograms of folic acid daily throughout pregnancy may help prevent GDM.
However, more research is needed as other studies have not yet shown the same effect.
Other potential benefits
Inositol has been studied as a potential treatment option for many diseases.
In addition to what has already been mentioned, research shows that myo-inositol may be helpful in the following conditions:
- Respiratory distress syndrome: In premature babies, myo-inositol appears to help treat breathing problems caused by underdeveloped lungs.
- Type 2 Diabetes: Preliminary research suggests that taking myo-inositol and folic acid daily for 6 months may help control blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): One small study showed that taking 18 grams of myo-inositol daily for 6 weeks reduced OCD symptoms.
Side effects and interactions
Most people seem to tolerate myo-inositol supplements well.
However, minor side effects have been reported at doses of 12 grams per day or higher. These include nausea, gas, trouble sleeping, headaches, dizziness and tiredness.
Research shows that pregnant women can take up to 4 grams of myo-inositol daily without adverse effects, but more research is needed in this group.
There is also not enough research to determine the safety of supplements during breastfeeding. However, breast milk appears to be naturally rich in inositol.
Additionally, it's unclear whether long-term use of inositol supplements is safe. In most studies, inositol supplements were taken for only one year or less.
There are two main forms of myo-inositol used in supplements, myo-inositol (MYO) and D-chiro-inositol (DCI).
Although there is no official consensus on the most effective type and dose, the following appear to be effective in studies:
- For mental health conditions: 12-18 grams of MYO once daily for 4-6 weeks.
- For polycystic ovary syndrome: 1.2 g of DCI once daily, or 2 g of MYO and 200 mcg of folic acid twice daily for 6 months.
- For metabolic syndrome: 2 grams of MYO twice daily for one year.
- For glycemic control in gestational diabetes: 2 grams of MYO and 400 mcg of folic acid twice daily during pregnancy.
- For glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes: 1 gram of DCI and 400 mcg of folic acid once daily for 6 months.
While these doses of myo-inositol appear to be helpful for some conditions in the short term, more research is needed to determine whether they are safe and effective over longer periods of time.
Studies show that inositol can help people with mental health and metabolic conditions such as panic disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, polycystic ovary syndrome, metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
It appears to be safe for most people at daily doses of no more than 18 grams and causes only mild side effects, if any.
While your diet may contain small amounts of myo-inositol, taking supplements may benefit some people.
Always discuss supplement use with your healthcare provider first.
As with any supplement, talk to your doctor before taking myo-inositol.