Health Issues and Nutrition

Inositol Functions: What does it do to your body?

What is Inositol?

Inositol is a sugar. A “good” sugar. It is a carbocyclic sugar, having a carbon-ring structure, found in the human body. Its chemical name is hexahydroxycyclohexane. The most important function of inositol is important to cell growth. Our body regularly produces inositol -up to 4g per day.

It was formerly part of the B-vitamin family, known as Vitamin B8. However, it was no longer deemed an essential supplement because our body can create it. Inositol is present in foods. Also, it is produced in our kidneys and liver from glucose. Vitamins are critical organic compounds that our body cannot synthesize or produce too little to stay healthy.

People with metabolic disorders (such as those with kidney issues, PCOS with insulin resistance, and diabetes) may have impaired Inositol absorption/conversion process.

Inositol Types

Are inositol and myo-inositol the same? What about D-chiro Inositol? There are at least 9 forms of inositol or stereoisomers of inositol. All have the same structure but differ in the position or placement of the –OH group. Despite this minor variance, each form of inositol may function differently in our bodies. The most important forms of inositol are myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol.

Structural Illustration

Types of Inositol (Illustration by Croze, ML and Soulage CO, 2013)
Source: Pubmed, 2013

General Functions of Inositol

Most of the function of inositol is in the modulation of the endocrine system. Interestingly, despite being a sugar, inositol helps our body process insulin and regulate blood sugar. With a similar effect to Ceylon cinnamon in lowering blood sugar but a different mechanism.

Inositol can influence insulin, thyroid hormone, gonadotrophins, and lipids. It also helps stabilize our mood by balancing the chemicals in our brain. Thus, it is often prescribed to improve mental health for people with depression, panic attacks, and anxiety.

There are also medications like those for Bipolar Disorder -Valproic acid (VPA) and Lithium, which depletes inositol. To avoid causing complications like psoriasis, supplementing with inositol can help.

Moreover, inositol aids in correcting the lipid profile of people by lowering LDL-levels. In fact, in a study made by SpectralCells Laboratories, they found rats developed fatty liver when they removed inositol from their diet.

Myo-Inositol vs D-Chiro Inositol: Different Functions

Myo-inositol is the same as the generic “inositol”. WebMD explains that our liver and kidneys convert glucose into inositol. According to Inositoli.it, myo-inositol generally decreases blood sugar by facilitating glucose uptake in our skeletal muscles. Among women, myo-inositol regulates the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), which plays an important role in the production of quality egg cells. Among men, myo-inositol modulates hormone production, which improves male fertility.

Some myo-inositol may transform into d-chiro inositol. D-Chiro improves the synthesis of insulin-dependent synthesis of androgen and liver glycogen. This means it increases androgen and decreases estrogen, which is good for men. Unfortunately, this may not be good for women who are already suffering from higher than normal androgen. Therefore, women with hormonal imbalance need to be careful in taking d-chiro inositol. A 40:1 myo-inositol and D-chiro Inositol ratio may restore or improve ovulation in women with PCOS, according to research. This is especially true for people who cannot properly convert myo-inositol to d-chiro inositol, such as those with insulin resistance.

Functions of Inositol Supplements

Most people take inositol supplements to balance the chemicals in the body. It is found helpful for people with PCOS, anxiety, depression, and blood sugar problems. The usual dosage is 4 grams per day taken in 3 months before one can see the results.

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