What is Inositol?
Inositol most often refers to the stereoisomer myo-inositol. The original name for this compound was meso-inositol, as it is a meso compound. However, it is not the only meso isomer, hence the name change. Inositol is a carbocyclic sugar with a similar chemical structure to glucose. It is a crucial secondary messenger that enables numerous cellular processes. Some of its primary roles include binding neurotransmitters, breaking down fats, and insulin regulation.
Because it is essential for numerous biological functions, scientists originally called it vitamin B8. However, further research showed the liver and kidneys can synthesize myo-inositol from glucose. Fruits, nuts, beans, and grains contain myo-inositol, with cantaloupe and oranges having the highest amounts. Even so, lifestyle factors can inhibit inositol production, such as consuming a lot of sugar. Research has shown promising potential inositol benefits for improving mood, reducing unease and nervousness, supporting healthy blood sugar levels, and enhancing female fertility.
Potential Inositol Benefits
Inositol for Stress and Mood
Inositol has anxiolytic properties that may help individuals cope during periods of high stress. Human studies have also found that it helps soothe and prevent feelings of fear and unease. Individuals struggling with low moods often have low inositol levels. Studies have shown inositol supplements may help stabilize moods, particularly in women. Another potential inositol benefit for women is relief from premenstrual mood symptoms. Inositol may help improve symptoms related to emotional eating as well.
Inositol and Fertility
Certain health conditions can affect a woman’s fertility. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) causes abnormally high masculinizing hormones that impair ovarian function and insulin resistance. Insulin resistance also triggers a premature response to luteinizing hormones, a chemical that stimulates ovulation and supports pregnancy. Triggering this response too soon doesn’t give follicular cells enough time to mature into healthy eggs, resulting in anovulatory cycles.
Insulin resistance has a strong correlation with insufficient leptin, the hormone that regulates hunger and signals satiety. As a result, women struggling with PCOS often experience food cravings, low energy levels, and abdominal obesity. Obesity also has known ties to infertility. The combination of PCOS and obesity also increase the risk of several health conditions that affects heart and metabolic health.
Studies on inositol have shown promising results for improving ovarian function and fertility. Inositol may help reduce insulin resistance, regulate cycles, and improve the likelihood of ovulation. Inositol also helped women struggling with fertility to lose weight.
Inositol and Heart Health
Several metabolic factors affect heart health, including blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides levels. Obesity also puts strain on the heart. One study found inositol supplements significantly lowered triglycerides and total cholesterol in individuals struggling with metabolic issues. The same study also noticed an improvement in blood sugar levels. Another study found inositol may help individuals with insulin sensitivities manage their blood sugar levels.
Choline and Inositol
Choline is another b vitamin-like supplement. Like inositol, choline is an essential component of phospholipid membranes. Both supplements help support nerve function and taking the two together enhances this effect. A choline and inositol combination may also support fertility and promote fat loss.
Inositol and Melatonin
Most individuals take melatonin as a sleep aid. However, the combination of inositol and melatonin may enhance fertility in women. Inositol and melatonin work together to improve the quality of oocytes, the cells that develop into eggs in the ovaries. These supplements may increase the number of mature oocytes as well.
Potential Inositol Side Effects
Myo-inositol is generally safe for most individuals. As it is water-soluble, the body doesn’t store it and excretes any excess inositol through the urine. Large doses of inositol supplements may cause mild gastrointestinal discomforts, such as upset stomach or gas.
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