Inositol is one of the most important vitamins you may never have heard of! It is often promoted as a general health supplement for women due to its benefits for fertility and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), as well as for relieving symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and anxiety. However, inositol benefits a wide array of conditions in both women and men, and has many other health-promoting effects.
In this article, I’ll talk about why inositol is so essential and how you can boost it in your body.
So, what are inositol benefits? Inositol is beneficial in balancing neurotransmitters, but has a wide range of other health benefits including:
- Promotes quality sleep
- Improves PMS and PCOS symptoms
- Reduces anxiety
- Reduces depression
- Aids weight loss
Read on to learn more about the health benefits of supplementing with inositol, as well as when and how to take it.
What is Inositol?
Inositol is a vital nutrient produced naturally in the body and found in plants and animals. Inositol plays a part in many bodily processes. However, one of the primary reasons we use inositol here at Human Performance Hub is its vital role in balancing neurotransmitters.
Inositol and Neurotransmitters
Neurotransmitters relay messages between the billions of neurons or nerve cells in your brain and affect many aspects of your life, ranging from moods, productivity, stress management, memory and learning ability, sleep, food cravings, addictions, etc.
While all neurotransmitters are essential, the “big four” are:
- Dopamine – impacts energy, drive, focus and motivation
- Serotonin – affects mood, sleep, and immune function.
- Acetylcholine – influences memory and attention span.
- Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA)– promotes calmness and contentment, optimal sleep and digestion
All major neurotransmitters rely on inositol to relay the messages between your brain cells. Like your phone needs a signal to work, neurotransmitters can’t do their thing without inositol.
Unfortunately, modern living, with high-stress levels, inadequate sleep, and poor nutrition, can rapidly imbalance your neurotransmitters; to be physically and mentally healthy, you need a good balance of neurotransmitters.
Inositol is an excellent balancer because it’s naturally a part of many brain chemical systems. As such, inositol can help a wide array of health conditions as well as boost good health. It is one of the first supplements I recommend to new clients.
5 Inositol Benefits Backed by Science
Here are five ways that inositol can improve your health and wellbeing.
1. Inositol Helps to Promote Quality Sleep
The great thing about inositol is that it works as an adaptogen – this means it promotes only what your body needs on an individual basis. For example, GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter, slows down brain activity and puts your body in a calmer and more relaxed state. Low GABA activity in your body is linked to insomnia and disrupted sleep. Meanwhile, serotonin is another brain chemical that affects how you sleep. If serotonin is low, it can disrupt sleep.
So if you’re low in GABA and serotonin and struggle with sleep, inositol can help bring your levels back up. Alternatively, if you struggle to get out of bed in the morning due to low dopamine levels, inositol can help bring this up instead.
2. Inositol Helps to Improve PMS and PCOS Symptoms
Inositol helps diminish the mood swings, depression, and anxiety of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and the more severe premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Taking inositol supplements can also positively improve polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) symptoms like menstrual irregularities, infertility, weight gain, high blood sugar, and unhealthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Furthermore, several studies found that daily doses of inositol reduced blood triglyceride levels, improved insulin function, lowered blood pressure, and promoted ovulation in women with polycystic PCOS(3, 4, 5, 6). It supports ovarian function so well that some nutritional supplements specifically designed to encourage fertility contain inositol.
Inositol also shows potential in boosting fertility for men. One study of 194 men showed that inositol supplementation improved sperm quality, sperm count, and fertility after three months.
3. Inositol Helps Lessen Anxiety
Several mental health disorders such as anxiety, panic attacks, OCD, and depression are linked to lower levels of inositol in the brain (8, 9). Inositol affects neurotransmitters and low inositol levels may contribute to decreased serotonin activity in your brain, impacting behaviour and mood. Research on inositol supplementation showed improved symptoms associated with conditions affecting serotonin and the brain.
In some instances, inositol was more effective than the most commonly prescribed medications. For example, one study found that people taking inositol had fewer panic attacks per week compared to those taking SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) anxiety medication.
4. Inositol Helps Reduce Depression
Like anxiety, inositol has benefits for depression. That’s because inositol levels are lower than average in people with depression, however, inositol increases serotonin and creates SSRI effects, similar to antidepressant drugs like Prozac. In one study of 28 people with depression, high doses of inositol (12 g/day) improved mood and all symptoms after four weeks.
These studies suggest that inositol can be as effective, if not more, when compared to SSRI antidepressant drugs for different conditions.
5. Inositol Helps Weight Loss
Inositol can encourage weight loss by improving how the body responds to insulin. Insulin is a critically important hormone for controlling blood sugar levels, and when your body has a problem responding to insulin, the resulting insulin resistance causes blood sugar fluctuations. This can lead to compulsive overeating and cravings for sugary foods in many people.
Inositol helps reduce insulin resistance by improving the body’s sensitivity to insulin. In one study, women supplemented with 4 grams of inositol per day showed improved insulin sensitivity. (14)
It’s best if you build up your inositol levels steadily. I recommend taking 900mg – 3,6 grams every night for at least one month.
The product I prefer is our Myo-Inositol. Each cap serving has 900mg of inositol. Most people find this the most convenient and economical way to take Inositol.
Inositol has tremendous health benefits due to its many roles in the body. It can help with stress, anxiety, hormonal issues, PCOS, acne, trouble with focus and sugar cravings, and metabolic conditions such as diabetes, autoimmune disorders, neurodegenerative diseases and more. If you have any of these issues or want to help prevent them, you should add inositol to your health toolkit.
We’re always here to help. If you have any questions or would like advice about supplements, nutrition, or training, please book in for a consultation.