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Myoinositol is a naturally occurring substance produced in the human body that belongs to the vitamin B complex group. In recent years there has been a growing appreciation of the benefits of myoinositol for women with PCOS. However, myoinositol can help with a vast array of other health conditions.

In this post, we will explore the various ways in which myoinositol can fix or optimize your health, before looking at the most effective ways in which you can get more of this health-promoting supplement into your body.

Introduction

Myo-inositol (mI), the most common form of inositol, is a sugar alcohol found in nearly all plants and animals (R).

As an important component of cell membranes , myoinositol is crucial for maintaining the normal number of protein particles (R).

Myo-inositol also has key roles in various biological processes, including cell volume regulation, cell signaling (in phosphoinositide-mediated processes), neuronal metabolism, phospholipid production, and energy consumption (R,R2,R3,R4,R5).

Myoinositol Snapshot

Pros

  • Great antioxidant
  • Helps treat diabetes
  • Protects the brain
  • Treats depression and anxiety disorders
  • Increases fertility rate

Cons

  • May interact with blood pressure medication
  • May interact with blood sugar medication
  • Can cause nerve damage from diabetes
  • Side effects include nausea and tiredness
  • Can cause digestive problems

Health Benefits of Myoinositol

1) Myoinositol Treats Diabetes and its Complications

Myoinositol mimics the effects of insulin and enhances insulin sensitivity (R, R2).

When taken orally, myoinositol stimulates glucose uptake in skeletal muscle cells, thereby decreasing blood sugar levels (by enhancing GLUT4 mobility) (R).

Myo-inositol also reduces urine glucose concentrations (over a period of 24 hours) in obese insulin resistant monkeys, indicating that it may decrease high blood sugar levels after eating in people who are insulin resistant (R).

Urine levels of myoinositol are commonly used as a diagnostic marker for diabetes (R).

Myo-inositol supplementation can prevent and reduce the rate of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (diabetes during pregnancy), especially in overweight or obese pregnant women, by 50%. It can also improve insulin resistance in people with gestational diabetes (R, R2).

Myoinositol can protect embryos against diabetic developmental defects and prevent diabetic neuropathy (nerve pain) in animals (R,R2).

2) Myo-inositol Improves the Outcome of PCOS

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common hormonal disorders in women. The majority of women with PCOS have ovulation problems, insulin resistance, and abnormal male hormone levels (R).

In one study, women with PCOS who took myoinositol for three months had their blood luteinizing hormone (LH), testosterone and insulin levels significantly reduced. After six months, common PCOS symptoms (hirsutism and acne) were eliminated (R).

3) Myo-inositol Prevents Metabolic Syndrome

Many clinical studies have shown that myoinositol can increase HDL (“good” cholesterol) and decrease LDL (“bad” cholesterol), triglycerides and blood pressure in women with PCOS (R,R2,R3).

Myoinositol supplementation exhibits similar efficacy in postmenopausal women with metabolic syndrome (R).

4) Myo-inositol Aids in Weight Loss

Myoinositol is lipotropic and promotes fat storage breakdown (R,R2).

Women with PCOS often have difficulty losing weight. Many studies show that supplemental myoinositol can significantly reduce body mass and leptin (appetite control hormone) levels in these women (R,R2).

These effects are also seen in obese women (R).

5) Myoinositol Protects the Brain

Myoinositol is found in high concentrations in the brain where it influences brain plasticity and signal transmission (R).

Fluctuations in myoinositol levels can signal the beginning of a cognitive decline in conditions that increase inflammation in nervous tissue and immune activation, such as dementia and HIV (R).

Low levels of inositol are also present in people with some brain disorders, anorexia, and depression (R).

Chronic low blood sodium levels can cause myelinolysis (destruction of myelin), a brain disorder. Myoinositol can normalize blood sodium levels, thereby increasing survival rates and decreasing behavioral abnormalities in rats (R).

In humans, elevation of inositol levels is associated with limiting the development of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, a disease that attacks the white matter of the brain (R).

Variations in myoinositol levels can indicate the location of a seizure and areas of seizure spread. Monitoring levels of inositol in various of parts of the brain can help prevent a second seizure, especially in people with mild seizure disorders (R).

Myoinositol can also help overcome the toxic effects of metabolites (from the liver) that cross the blood brain barrier (R).

6) Inositol Increases Serotonin and GABA and May Promote Sleep

Several studies have proposed a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor like-role for myoinositol, likely due to the fact that myoinositol is the second messenger of serotonin (R).

Myoinositol enhances serotonin receptor sensitivity (R).

Increasing serotonin levels can stimulate γ-Amino-butyric acid (GABA) release in certain regions of the brain (R).

Because serotonin and GABA have sleep-promoting effects, myoinositol may be a potential treatment for insomnia (R,R2).

Inositol can be taken with SSRI’s because of its ability to prevent serotonin syndrome (i.e., serotonin toxicity) (R).

7) Myoinositol is a Natural Remedy for Depression and Anxiety Disorders

Low levels of inositol are present in people with depression (R).

Supplementation can help increase those levels and treat depression in adult patients (R).

Daily inositol supplementation in children helped relieve symptoms of anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (R).

Inositol also helped treat anxiety in children with bipolar disorder, and may be a more superior alternative to SSRIs because it is natural and well tolerated (R).

High doses of myoinositol can reduce panic attack and anxiety symptoms in adult patients (R).

It can also diminish symptoms of depression, anxiety, and mood swings in women with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)(a more severe form of PMS) (R). 

8) Myoinositol May Alleviate Psychiatric Disorders

Research indicates that inositol may be a promising treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a psychiatric disorder characterized by obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. One study found that inositol markedly reduced symptoms of OCD without side effects (R).

However, inositol therapy is generally not effective in patients who are not responsive to SSRIs (R).

9) Myoinositol Ameliorates Eating Disorders

High doses of inositol significantly reduced common symptoms associated with bulimia (depression, anxiety, binge eating and purging) in patients with bulima nervosa (R).

10) Myoinositol Prevents Cancer

Myoinositol has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune-enhancing properties (R).

Myoinositol can prevent cancer and stop the progression of tumors. It decreases cell replication by stopping the cell cycle (R).

A combination of carotenoids and myoinositol was found to prevent liver tumor development in patients with long-term viral hepatitis and cirrhosis (R).

Myoinositol also reduced the development of lung tumors in mice and rabbits that were exposed to tobacco smoke (R).

Comparable effects were seen in the lungs of heavy smokers (R).

11) Myoinositol Increases Fertility Rate

Myoinositol helps balance reproductive hormone levels in people with unexplained fertility (R).

In male patients with unexplained infertility, daily supplementation of myoinositol increased sperm count and fertility rate  (R).

Supplementation also increased sperm motility and the mitochondrial function of sperm in people with low sperm count (R).

Diabetes can cause erectile dysfunction in men. A combination of myoinositol and folic acid may treat erectile dysfunction in men with type 2 diabetes (R).

Myoinositol levels are unbalanced in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal disorder. Supplementation can be an effective treatment for women who have insulin resistance and PCOS and help with fertility rates (R).

It is necessary for proper ovarian function and it increases the overall quality of oocytes (eggs) and embryos (R,R2).

12) Myoinositol Protects the Lungs

Myoinositol helps initiate the process of lung maturation (R).

It also facilitates lung healing and decreases lesions in the lungs of heavy smokers (R).

13) Myoinositol May Prevent Heart Disease

Myoinositol supplementation has been shown to lower heart disease risk factors (blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides) in patients with metabolic syndrome (R,R2).

14) Myoinositol Helps with Prenatal Development

Myoinositol is crucial during prenatal growth and differentiation, with higher concentrations found in newborns than in adults. Inositol levels decline in infants within the first two weeks after birth (R).

15) Inositol Lowers Inflammation

In a study with mice exposed to lectin/immunostimulant (ConA), phosphatidylinositol  suppressed the proinflammatory cytokines (R)

D-Chiro-Inositol (which is converted in the body from myoinositol) reduces TNF-alpha, IL-6, and resistin (R).

Inositol decreases CD3, CD4, and HLA-DR antigen (see definition: (R)) expression in PHA-activated (Phytohaemagglutinin, a type of lectin) peripheral blood mononuclear cell surfaces (R).

16) Myoinositol has Antioxidant Properties

Myoinositol administration reduces oxidative stress in the red blood cells of women with PCOS by improving insulin resistance (R).

17) Inositol May Prolong Lifespan

Inositol extends the life of fruit flies (R).

18) Myoinositol Mitigates Side Effects of Lithium

Lithium drug therapy is commonly used to treat bipolar disorder. A frequent side effect of this treatment (caused by depletion of inositol levels) is lithium-induced psoriasis, a skin condition characterized by dry scaly patches. In one study, inositol supplementation was found to significantly improve symptoms of psoriasis in patients taking lithium (R).

19) Myoinositol Boosts Skin Health

Myoinositol supplementation reduced severe to moderate acne in subjects with PCOS (R).

It was also found effective in reducing hirsutism (excessive hair growth in women) in women with high blood androgens and insulin resistance (not diagnosed with PCOS) (R).

Inositol and Cannabinoid Synthesis

IP3, which is a bit different than myoinositol, stimulates cannabinoid synthesis.

Technical

  • Biosynthetic Pathway: glucose-6P → aldolization → L-myo-inositol-IP → hydrolysis → myoinositol [R]
  • Inositol monophosphatase catalyzes dephosphorylation of myoinositol-I-phosphate to myoinositol [R]
  • Calcium influx and inositol are necessary to maintain the “high-frequency Calcium oscillations characteristic of immature dendritic cells.” (R)
  • results showed that the ratio of MI-DCI dropped from 100:1 in healthy participants to 0.2:1 in patients with PCOS who additionally displayed significantly higher levels of insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia, and luteinizing hormone (R).
  • However, inositol had marginally more responders in depression than placebo (p = 0.06), and inositol showed a trend towards superior efficacy for depressive symptoms in patients with PMDD (p = 0.07) (R).
  • Inositol is known to regulate/increase calcium levels within the cell. Calcium influx and inositol are necessary to maintain the “high-frequency Calcium oscillations characteristic of immature dendritic cells.” (R)
  • Myoinositol enhances GLUT4 mobility in the skeletal muscle (R).

Sources

It can be found in the following food sources (R):

  • Dairy products (chocolate and regular milk, yogurt)
  • Dried prunes
  • Various fresh fruit (cantaloupe, citrus fruits, cherries, peach, etc.)
  • Vegetables (beans, artichoke, okra, cabbage, spinach, etc.)
  • Grains (wheat, oatmeal, pasta, etc)
  • Meat and seafood (beef, chicken breast, pork, tuna, crabs, clams)

Dosage

Doctors recommend around 12 to 18 grams per day (R).

Caution and Side Effects

Myoinositol can cause tissue abnormalities and problems in neurons (RR).

It is associated with psychological and behavioral symptoms in Alzheimer’s disease as well as poor brain function in children that experiences traumatic brain injuries (R, R).

It can cause nerve damage from diabetes when it is abnormally metabolized (R).

Inositol increases in people with tumors in blood vessels, brain, spinal cord, and other diseases (R).

It may be partially responsible for negative impacts on the immune system (R).

Side effects include digestive problems, nausea, and tiredness (R).

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14 COMMENTS

  • Jessica L White

    I have been taking myo inositol and d myo inositol and folic acid blend for 4 months and I started DIM a couple weeks ago for pcos, i don’t have periods I have noticed alot of changes that are good, but yesterday and today I notice in the mornings I keep getting really hot and nauseated and my chest hurts a lot, could these be side effects from what I’m taking to try and regulate so I can get pregnant?

  • Mel

    I have been on ovasitol(myo and D Chiro 40;1 ratio) since November 2017. I have noticed over the course of the last few months my vitiligo has come back since childhood, I have cold hands and feet in AC , muscle /joint pain in hands , elbow and ankle. My cycle is now regular and I am ovulating but I dont know if this is causing my other symptons. Symptons resemble auto immune diseases . I dont know what to do , if i stop my cycle will be hay wire again.
    Any advice ?

    1. Nattha Wannissorn, PhD
  • Marianne Kellett

    I had GD with my first pregnancy and didn’t get it with my second despite being heavier. I took nothing to counteract on both pregnancies. GD pregnancies that produce a girl tend to give them PCOS

  • Patrice Robins

    Can Inositol cause arthralgia?

  • Marin

    I would say its normal.
    Maybe you are a great responder.
    Even tho recommended dose for anxiety is 12-18 g per day, i use 250 mg at night. It gets me very calm, present and it lasts long. Regarding the side effects i get dizzy, i feel like going to faint, another thing, it looks like it messes with my blood pressure (my heart rite increases).
    Point is its not tested too much and you as an individual will have to experiment with the doses, and part of the day when to take it and with what to take it.

    I’m no medical expert, and this is just my opinion, but i’ve been struggaling for 13 years, and i see even the smalest increase or decrease in my anxiety symptoms.

    Best of luck

  • Maddy

    Joe…question: Does inositol increase histamine release???? Or affect histamine metabolism in any way? Finding conflicting information.

  • Deidra Cross

    I have suffered from Pcod for 3 years, I just started taking myo insitol combined with D chiro, 8mg of myo 100mg d chiro daily for two months. I have lost 10lbs in 2 months, I was 220lbs. I have more energy, it even seems as if I can even breath better..my doc prescribed me nitroglycerin for chest pains, I haven’t had to use my nitroglycerin in 6 weeks…at the end of the third month I’m going to try for another baby wish me luck….spread the word myoinsitol saved my life!!!!!

  • Zsazsa

    I feel great on Myo-Inositol but how to avoid the painful side effects from increased uric acid???

  • Matt

    Those are not expected effects and are probably not the result of taking imposition. Inositol generally improves sleep and acne. And 500 mg is too low of a dose to do much of anything anyway.

    I take 3-5g daily. It has helped my sleep tremendously and improved OCD like nothing else. I’d recommend increasing your dosage. What you’re taking is not enough to really have any effect.

  • gordon

    took inositol 500mg which is a small dosage. 10 minutes later i became extremely tired went to bed. next morning was very difficult to get out of bed was sooo tired . and throughout the entire day had brain frog and most importantly which stuck out was cold hands and feet and some nerve pain on my hands and feet ( i never get this aside from this episode )
    What could this be? im scared to even touch it again– wanted to try it for SA and anxiety

  • Jane

    Why do you say it could cause nerve damage from diabetes but then have counteracting statements. Is that if it’s consumed in excess? Can one overdose on myo-inositol?

  • Anna Pry

    I had GD with my last pregnancy so this time around I decided to try myo inositol to see if I could prevent getting it again. I also read that certain strains of probiotics can also help so I tried that too. I wasn’t always consistent with remembering to take my doses, maybe 2/3 of the time I remembered. Had my 2 hr glucose test last week ( at 27 weeks) and found out today my results came back normal. My weight gain has been about the same as last time, and is more than I’d like it to be, but I’m happy to not have GD to worry about again. So just from my experience, it’s worth a try!

  • Alan

    I tried taking inositol for my OCD but it worsened my sleep and acne, and I only took 500 mg daily. Are those expected effects? Should I continue?

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