Inositol, an 'unofficial' B-vitamin, is a cyclic 6-carbon compound quite similar to glucose. In animal cells, it occurs as a component of phospholipids and it stored predominantly in the brain, spinal cord nerves, cerebral spinal fluid, skeletal muscle, and heart muscle. The human body contains more inositol than any other vitamin except niacin.
is available from both plant and animal sources. The plant form in which inositol is available is phytic acid, which can bind with minerals and so affect their absorption negatively. The action of the intestinal bacteria
liberates inositol from phytic acid, which is found in citrus fruits, nuts, seeds and legumes, wheat germ, brewers yeast
, bananas, liver
, beef brains and heart, whole grains such as brown rice, oat flakes, unrefined molasses, raisins and vegetables such as cabbage.
Function; Why it is RecommendedInositol
is simply a hexane molecule (ringed structure of 6 carbons) with 6 hydroxyl groups (OH) attached. Inositol is used by the body to complete the synthesis of certain phospholipids, important components of every cell membrane. Inositol is also used to make Inositol Triphosphate (IP3), an important secondary messenger in various cell signaling events. Inositol is also lipotropic, meaning it associates with lipids
(fats). Its lipotropic characteristics have been used to help move fatty material from the liver
, into the intestines where they can be effectively removed with fiber.
Inositol works closely with choline
as one of the primary components of the cell membrane. It is also needed for growth and survival of cells in bone marrow
, eye membranes, and the intestines.
Inositol appears to be a precursor of the phosphoinosities (compounds that may be important in hormonal action) especially in the brain. Proper action of several brain neurotransmitters
, such as acetylcholine
, require inositol.Inositol
encourages hair growth and can help prevent baldness. Like choline
, inositol helps to move fat out of the liver
, and helps prevent serious liver disorders, as well as disorders involving high cholesterol
, two neurotransmitters
, both depend upon inositol, and supplementation can therefore assist in the reduction of depression
and panic attacks
. A reduction in brain inositol levels may induce depression as evidenced by low inositol levels in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with depression. In a 1-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 28 patients with depression, inositol demonstrated therapeutic results similar to tricyclic antidepressants
without the side-effects. Additional studies have revealed that inositol supplementation is an effective treatment in panic and obsessive compulsive
Loss of inositol from nerve cells is the primary reason for diabetic neuropathy
, so inositol supplementation can assist in improving this condition. Phytic acid, the plant source of inositol, has been shown to have anticancer properties, which may be one reason why a high-fiber diet protects against many cancers.
Inositol also has a prominent calming effect on the central nervous system
, so it may be helpful to those with insomnia. Studies on brain waves have shown that it has an effect similar to that of librium or valium. It can gradually lower blood pressure, and can be helpful in cases of schizophrenia
, and those with high serum copper
and low serum zinc
Because it stimulates muscles of the alimentary canal, inositol
is helpful in cases of constipation
. It can also induce labor contractions in pregnant women.
Intake of caffeine
is known to deplete the bodies supply of inositol.
The RDA is 100mg per day, but be aware that this dosage is the minimum that you require to ward off deficiency of this particular nutrient. In the therapeutic use of this nutrient, the dosage is usually increased considerably, but the toxicity level must be kept in mind.
It is best used with choline
, which should be taken in the same amount as inositol
. It is best to take the entire B-group vitamins with it. Vitamin E
, vitamin C
as well as folic acid
and linoleic acid are thought to increase the functioning of inositol.
Although no toxic effects are known, diarrhea
has been noted with the intake of very high dosage.