Inositol is an essential nutrient, that has been considered a component of the B vitamin complex, specifically B-8. It is needed for proper cell membrane functioning, a majority of which is necessary for hormone regulation.
Inositol is also known to support stress and anxiety. Balanced mood, and increased feelings of overall subjective well-being can occur when a higher dose of inositol is taken daily. This makes sense, given findings of reduced levels of frontal cortex levels of inositol in depressive people.
Typically, lower doses of 2-4g are sufficient for treating most issues within the body. However, achieving neurological benefits requires higher doses in the 6-12g range. Smaller doses are safe when taken once a day, but higher doses need multiple, smaller daily doses in order to reduce possible gastrointestinal side effects.
Inositol Mode of Action
Inositol is a small molecule consisting of a carbon ring that is chemically similar to glucose. Being water soluble, it passes easily into the bloodstream, where it can travel throughout the body and be available wherever needed. Cell membranes have protein molecules that are able to transport these small molecules into the cell, in the same way they transport glucose, where it needs them. Once inside, the cellular mechanisms transform inositol to suit their current messaging needs.
Inositol Side Effects & Toxicity
People tend to tolerate inositol supplements well in doses up to around 12g. At that point, mild gastrointestinal symptoms may occur about 5% of the time. However, studies also show that up to 30g doses still only result in mild digestive distress. Due to the extensive research on inositol in the lab, scientists have been able to determine that its LD50, or median lethal dose in mice, is about 10g/kg of body weight.
Although there are no known harmful drug interactions involving inositol, there are a few beneficial ones. Lithium, a drug used to treat bipolar disorder, works by depleting the brain’s supply of inositol. Unfortunately, this depletion can result in psoriasis or polyuria. Supplements can negate these lithium effects in the body without interfering with its neural effects.
Inositol is a supplement that is experiencing interest for its potential in dealing with mood disorders. Although initial research failed to show a significant response, careful review afterward did lead some to note that there was a trend toward significance in the results. When a response is noted that fails to meet the criteria of significance, one solution is to run further experiments on larger groups of subjects. By doing so, researchers can increase the size of the effect, which can allow them to see differences that were more difficult to detect in the smaller sample.
Premenstrual syndrome, which can involve such symptoms as cramps, moodiness, and fatigue, affects as much as 75% of menstruating women. However, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is quite different. It is a clinical mood disorder that involves PMS-related depressive symptoms. In high doses, inositol taken three times a day has shown improvement of both clinical and subjective ratings of these symptoms. However, replication has been an issue and more research is needed.