Health & Nutrition
October 20, 2020
• Updated on
23 Jul

Natural Food Sources of Inositol

If you are a woman suffering from PCOD or PCOS, chances are you would have heard of the word inositol. It also pops up when one researches alternative therapies to treat anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and other compulsive behavioural disorders. But what is it? And how does it affect and improve our health? Here’s a closer look at inositol and its functions. 

What Is Inositol?

Inositol is a natural substance found in many plant and animal foods. It is a type of carbohydrate found in many foods like grains, fruits, and vegetables. It can also be made by the human body if needed. Inositols are not only important for women who are pregnant but it is also used to treat anxiety disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

There are many benefits of taking inositol, including being able to help with depression, anxiety, panic attacks and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). There can also be effects on weight loss due to the way it helps regulate insulin levels.

natural sources of inositol

Inositol has been shown to help regulate moods and improve mental clarity, which is why it is often used to treat symptoms of anxiety and depression. Studies have shown that people who take inositol for two weeks or more may experience an improvement in mood without any side effects. It’s also available as a dietary supplement - but the recommended dosage varies depending on the person's age and health status. (For example, adults with depression may need up to 18 grams per day).

It's important to consult your doctor before you start taking any new supplements like this one because they can interact badly with other medications you're already taking.

What Does Inositol Do To Your Body?

Here is a list of inositol benefits and inositol uses. There are two main forms of inositol used in supplements, namely Myo-inositol (MYO) and D-chiro-inositol (DCI). A combination of the two is used to treat the above-mentioned health issues. 

Myo-inositol or a combination with D-chiro-inositol works as an effective dietary supplement for promoting female fertility, restoring insulin sensitivity in type II diabetes and reducing anxiety. It is also used to restore spontaneous ovarian activity and consequently fertility in most women suffering from PCOS. It also helps clear up polycystic acne, reduces blood insulin ratios and regulates blood pressure.

natural sources of inositol

It is also required to maintain the integrity of cell membranes, assists with the metabolism of carbohydrates and fatty acids, helps with the conduction of nerve signals, can help control calcium concentration in the nerve cells, and is necessary for the optimal function of insulin. 

Given these functions, these are some of the ailments inositol can help with:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD
  • Bulimia
  • Fatty liver
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • PCOS

Inositol-PCOS Connection: How Much Inositol Should I Take For PCOS?

PCOS is a hormonal disorder. It causes the ovaries to become enlarged, with the formation of small cysts on the outer edges of the ovaries. In general, normalising and balancing hormonal imbalances can improve PCOS symptoms and problems. Inositol works to address these imbalances. 

D-chiro-inositol may help manage PCOS, according to a study published in Endocrine Practice. As part of the research project, 20 women with PCOS were given either a placebo or 6 grams of D-chiro-inositol once a day for 6 to 8 weeks.

natural sources of inositol

The results showed that that D-chiro-inositol helped treat several abnormalities associated with PCOS, including high blood pressure and elevated levels of blood fats. It was also seen that elevated testosterone levels - a common occurrence with PCOS-related hormone imbalances -  decreased by 73% compared to 0% for those given a placebo.

It’s recommended that women with PCOS take a combined amount of Myo-inositol or MYO (2-4 grams) and D-chiro-inositol or DCI (50-100mg) in a physiologic ratio of 40:1.

What Causes Inositol Deficiency?

Inositols can be produced by the body, produced in a lab setting and a supplement and be obtained from the foods we eat, like whole grains, nuts, legumes and meat and eggs. Deficiency, therefore, can result from reduced dietary intake, catabolism of metabolic breakdown, or inhibition of gut and cellular uptake.

What Foods Are High In Inositol?

There are many everyday inositol-rich foods. Here are some natural sources of inositol you can incorporate into your diet. 

natural sources of inositol

  • Organic, grass-fed meat: Inositol is found in organic, grass-fed sources of meat and eggs. If the meat sources are raised on steroids and antibiotics, they can do more harm than good, so look for free-range meat and eggs. 
  • Fresh, organic fruits and whole grains: Fruit sources of inositol include oranges, peaches, and pears. Potassium-rich fruits like bananas are also considered foods high in inositol. Whole, unrefined grains are jam-packed with inositol.
  • Legumes: Legumes and sprouts are also considered foods high in inositol. Peanuts are a healthy and economical option. 
  • Fresh, organic vegetables: Having more vegetables like bell peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, and asparagus, along with green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds will help you get your daily requirements of inositol easily.

Nutrition by Lovneet has a simple, but very effective PCOS/PCOD management plan where we put you on a no deprivation, fully customised weekly diet to help you heal and manage the symptoms easily.

Sign Up for PCOD and PCOS Management Program


Does inositol lower estrogen?

This is a question that many women have been asking, but it's not as cut and dry as you may think. There are two different types of inositol: Myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol. Myo inositol does not affect levels of estrogen, while D-chiro inositol can decrease the amount of estradiol (E2) by up to 50%.

Does inositol give you energy?

Inositol supports your body's normal insulin processing mechanisms. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas and released into the bloodstream. Insulin allows our cells to take in glucose (sugar) and produce energy. They are one of the B vitamins and they have been found to be helpful in treating panic disorders. Inositols also help regulate serotonin levels, which can lead to an improved mood and better sleep quality. 

Does inositol lower testosterone?

The answer to the question is not straightforward because in some studies it was found that inositols increased testosterone production while other studies showed no change at all. Some women find relief from their PMS by taking 1 gram of Myo-inositol every day for 8 weeks but these results are still inconclusive.

Other research has found that in women with PCOS and either hyperinsulinism or normal insulin, treatment with Myo-inositol has been shown to reduce total testosterone and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein compared with metformin, according to researchers.

Does inositol help you sleep?

Inositols also help regulate serotonin levels, which can lead to an improved mood and better sleep quality, by improving communication throughout the brain. It communicates with the GABA receptors in the brain - these receptors are what calm you down physically and mentally, especially if you are in a high-stress situation. If your GABA receptors are not working properly, you won’t sleep be able to stop the kind of mental or physical responses you get when you become stressed. Overall, it helps promote a feeling of calmness and peacefulness, which are the main factors in helping someone get a good night of sleep.

How quickly does inositol work for anxiety?

It can take up to a month. Serotonin and dopamine are two of the four brain chemicals responsible for making our minds feel good, in addition to oxytocin and endorphin. Inositol functions as a messenger for its production in the brain. It’s something you need to build a tolerance for, so start small and add an additional one gram at a time, knowing that it may take up to one month to see the full effects. Taking too much at once initially can result in loose stools, headaches, or fatigue. 

Lovneet Batra
Lovneet Batra is a clinical nutritionist with over a decade of experience treating patients and educating people on the benefits of a healthy diet. One of Delhi’s most sought-after nutritionists...
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