Inositol is a simple carbohydrate occurring in animal and plant tissues which belong to vitamin-B group. As they are considered as important vitamins for good health, is important to know what is inositol and what is it used for.
What is Inositol?
In nature, inositol is found in many forms as isomers. Some important isomers are myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol. Inositol is also called by other names. They are 1,2,3,4,5,6-cyclohexanehexol, 1,2,5/3,4,6-inositol, (1S)-1,2,4/3,5,6-inositol, Antialopecia factor, etc. Sometimes it is also referred to as vitamin B8.
It belongs to a category of pseudo vitamins. They are so called because, they are very important for functioning of the nerves, body metabolism and insulin; and deficiency of which may not necessarily cause any disorders. Let us understand the importance of inositol and its sources.
Sources of Inositol
Inositol is found in animals and plants. It is also produced in human body. Some of the common food sources are.
- Citrus fruits like oranges, lemon, sweet lemon
- Fresh fruits like grapes, peaches, pears, banana
- Dried prunes
- Beans, legumes and sprouts
- Bran flakes
- Vegetables like bell peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, asparagus, green leafy vegetables
- Meat, and eggs
What is Inositol Used For?
Considering the importance of this nutrient, Inositol is used for various purposes. Some of its main functions that make it instrumental in improving health include
- Fat metabolism
- Insulin signaling
- Nerve functioning
Inositol is taken orally for many problems related to metabolism, insulin related problems and problems related to nerve functioning. It is evident that inositol helps in betterment of mood swings and anxiety related issues. It is also a promising medicine in female infertility issues. So sometimes it is referred to as ‘female health supplement’. Inositol is used for and taken orally for many problems.
Some of them are listed below:
Diabetes and Gestational Diabetes. Inositol is proved to help insulin to work better. Gestational diabetes is prevented to some extent if inositol is taken with folic acid.
Psoriasis. Inositol cannot be used in all kinds of psoriasis. In some cases where lithium therapy is performing for longer period, there are chances of occurrence of psoriasis. In those cases, inositol is helpful.
Metabolic Syndrome. In some patients, insulin resistance is developed. This can be minimized by taking inositol with or even without alpha lipoic acid orally.
PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). Inositol is also used for hormone related issues in women. Both the isomers of inositol are found to improve the functions of ovaries in obese women if taken together orally. They seem to decrease the levels of triglycerides and testosterone, reduce the chance of failure of ovulation. The combination of two forms of inositol improves blood pressure, decrease blood pressure in hypertension patients and improve blood sugar and insulin levels. It also helps in problems related with menopause.
Panic Disorder and Inositol. Some people have the fear of open spaces or public places which is called agoraphobia. Inositol is proved to help in patients suffering from panic attacks and also agoraphobia.
Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. In some premature babies, breathing problem may occur which may result in death. In such cases, inositol is given intravenously which helps to improve breathing. Sometimes in premature babies, there are chances of causing blindness or risk of bleeding in the brain. In these critical conditions also, inositol is found to help in improving the health condition of the babies.
How Does Inositol Work?
How does inositol work is an interesting question. Though inositol is promising, it is difficult to explain how it works for some diseases due to lack of researches and evidences. Some of them are, Trichotillomania (compulsive hair pulling disorder), Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), Post – Traumatic Stress Disorder, ADHD (Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorders), nerve problems caused by diabetes, Autism, Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder, eating disorders, insomnia, Alzheimer’s disease, hair growth, Anxiety disorders and Depression.
Inositol is a vitamin like substance which is found in both plant and animal tissues. It is found to help in many conditions of mental health, metabolic disorders, ovary related problems, and psoriasis caused by lithium. It is also used in many disorders like ADHD, bipolar, OCD, lung cancer, etc., though there is less evidence of how inositol works in these cases. Inositol is a safe medicine and can be given even in pregnancy, lactation and also given to children. There is no evidence of causing gastrointestinal side effects with inositol. However, taking inositol with medical advice is a wise idea.
After knowing what inositol is and what it is used for, it becomes easy to discuss with your physician and decide if it can be of any help to you.