Choosing the Right Inositol Supplement For Your Needs
Inositol is a popular nutritional supplement. Find out about the different types of inositol on the market, read our in-depth supplement reviews, and learn how to select the one that is best for you.
Inositol is a vitamin-like substance that people take for various medical conditions as well as for maintaining general health.
Inositol is most renowned for its ability to improve insulin sensitivity and help blood sugar control. It also affects important chemical messengers in the brain (for example, the neurotransmitter serotonin), lifts mood and helps with many mental health conditions. Last, but not least, inositol together with its derivate IP6 also exerts significant anti-cancer effect.
Things to Look For in Inositol Supplement
There is a huge range of inositol supplements available. When you are deciding which one to get, you need to take several factors into account.
Types of Inositol Found in Supplements
There are 9 different types (isomers) of inositol. Most supplements contain the isomer, called myo-inositol. The prefix myo is often missing, so if you see only inositol written on the supplement’s label, you are safe to assume that it contains myo-inositol.
There are two main reasons for the popularity of myo-inositol. First one is that myo-inositol is the most prevalent type of inositol found in natural sources. More importantly, though, myo-inositol is also the one inositol that has been most extensively studied for a wide range of health conditions.
There are 2 other types of inositol that are sometimes sold in supplements, which are formulated for specific health conditions. The first type is called d-chiro inositol. This one is rarely sold on its own, but is typically packaged together with myo-inositol. This combination is used predominantly for treating PCOS.
Inositol hexaphosphate is another inositol that you can find in supplements. It is basically an inositol derivate, sold mostly for its anti-cancer effect.
Which Form is Best for You: Powder, Capsules or Packets?
Inositol is generally sold as bulk powder or in capsule form. Sometimes, when the supplement also contains other active ingredients besides inositol, it may be packaged in little packets. These are very convenient as you don’t have to prepare the mix of ingredients at home - you simply put the pre-made packets in your purse or bag and take them along anywhere you go.
Inositol is in the form of fine, white powder. If you take it in bulk form, you simply put it in a glass of water or juice and thoroughly mix so it dissolves completely. The water with inositol has a mild, slightly sweet taste.
Which form you’ll choose, mainly depends on your personal preferences. However, most people who need to take large doses choose bulk powder as it is much cheaper than capsules. Capsules typically contain 500 to 750 mgs of inositol each, so you need to take quite a lot of them to reach therapeutic doses needed for certain conditions.
If you aren’t certain which dose is right for you, read about doses for specific health conditions later on in the article.
Choosing Your Brand
Inositol is a popular supplement, so you can get it from quite a few different manufacturers. It is always best if you go with a well-known brand that is regularly inspected by the FDA and has facilities that adhere to GMP standards. The reason for this is that these manufacturers need to regularly test their supplements for contamination (for example, heavy metals or microbial). They also need to test for identity and potency – meaning that they need to make sure that their supplement does indeed contain the active ingredient at the dose stated on the label.
When choosing your supplement, also read the label and look for fillers and additives. Ideally, choose a supplement with as few unnecessary ingredients as possible (capsules, for example, typically contain the lubricant magnesium stearate; bulk inositol powders, on the other hand, are often without any added ingredients).
How To Take Inositol For Specific Health Conditions
Inositol for Mental Health – Depression, OCD, Anxiety, Panic Disorder, etc
Inositol has long been studied for its use in several mental health disorders; predominantly depression and OCD. It has also been shown to help in anxiety and panic attacks. Inositol, however, is not suitable for people with bipolar disorders as there are some concerns that it may trigger manic episodes.
The type of inositol taken for the above mentioned conditions is myo-inositol. Doses of myo-inositol for treating mental health conditions in these studies varied between 12 and 18 grams per day.
Since these doses are fairly high, most people choose inositol in its bulk powder form (capsules are too expensive and not convenient for reaching the required daily dose).
It is advised that you find your own dose by keeping track of how you feel. Also, these doses are so high that you need to start very slowly and work your way up to your long term dose. If you do start off with a large dose, you have higher chances of suffering from side effects of inositol supplementation (mostly gastrointestinal distress, diarrhea and sometimes nausea).
Polycistic Ovary Syndrome
Women with PCOS take 2 types of inositol: myo-inositol and d-chiro inositol. Some take only myo-inositol at the recommended dose 4 grams daily (again, the dose is high enough that the powder seems more convenient than capsules); others prefer the combination of myo and d-chiro inositol.
You can read more details on how to take inositol for treating polycystic ovary syndrome in section: Inositol Supplements for PCOS.
Inositol For Female Fertility and Healthy Pregnancy
Inositol has been shown in several studies to boost the health of health cells and increase the chances of getting pregnant. And during pregnancy, inositol contributes to better blood sugar control and significantly reduces the risk of gestational diabetes. Read more about how to take inositol for achieving healthy pregnancy in the section: Inositol supplements for better egg quality, increased female fertility and healthy pregnancy.
Blood Sugar Regulation
Some people take myo-inositol for managing blood sugar levels. There is no specific recommended dose for this. It is advisable that you start with a small daily amount and monitor carefully your blood sugar levels to find your correct dose. The dose of inositol taken for blood sugar regulation is typically a couple of grams daily.
Some people, but not all, experience weight loss while taking myo-inositol. Most of the effect probably comes from the way inositol helps sensitize cells to the action of insulin. Studies have observed weight loss as an added benefit when inositol was being used for treating women with PCOS (the condition is characterized by insulin resistance). Hence, any person who suffers from insulin resistance may exoerience weight loss as a result of taking inositol.
There is no recommended dose of inositol for weight loss. Women with PCOS have experienced results at 4 grams of myo-inositol daily.
Inositol For Overall Brain Health and Improved Cognitive function (Memory, Learning, Focus)
Myo-inositol is also taken as an overall brain-enhancement supplement; commonly together with choline. Read more about this in the section: Inositol Supplements for Improving Cognitive Function
Myo-Inositol and Inositol Hexaphosphate (IP6) in Anti-cancer Supplements
Myo-inositol has a slight anti-cancer effect itself. Its derivative IP6, though, is well known and extensively studied as a substance for preventing and treating cancer.
The reason why these 2 are often taken together is that some studies suggest that myo-inositol enhances the anti-cancer effects of IP6 (they seem to work synergistically).
Read more in the section: Taking Inositol for Its Anti-cancer Effect (myo-inositol and IP6)
Inositol Capsules (Myo-Inositol)
Inositol capsules are generally taken by those that need smaller daily dose of inositol (up to a couple of grams). They are often used for blood sugar regulation or for treating the symptoms of PCOS (sometimes used together with Metformin).
If you need larger doses, inositol bulk powder will be more convenient to take and considerably cheaper.