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Inositol Supplements: Benefits, Sources, Safety, Dosage, and More

By Erika Thiede, MS, RDN, CSSD

Medically Reviewed by Natalie Olsen, MS, RDN, LD, ACSM-EP

Published on May 25, 2022

Inositol plays many vital roles in your body. We explore this important nutrient, including its health benefits, and how you can safely add it to your daily diet.

Written by
Erika Thiede, MS, RDN, CSSD
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Integrative and Functional Nutritionist
Erika Thiede is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with 10 years of experience in the field of nutrition. While at USC, Erika worked alongside the head sports dietitian, allowing her to realize her true passion was in the field of nutrition and dietetics. Erika completed her master’s degree at Loma Linda University and became a registered dietitian in 2015.
Medically Reviewed by
Natalie Olsen, MS, RDN, LD, ACSM-EP
Registered Dietitian, Certified Exercise Physiologist
Natalie is a registered dietitian, functional medicine practitioner and certified exercise physiologist with over 15 years experience in the health and wellness industry and holds a Master's degree in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine through a collaborative program provided by the University of Western States and the Institute of Functional Medicine.
Inositol Supplements: Benefits, Sources, Safety, Dosage, and More
Photo credit: iStock.com/Kanawa_Studio

What Is Inositol?

Inositol is a natural molecule found in the body and is involved in various functions such as hormone signaling, energy metabolism, and brain function. (1)

Inositol is often referred to as vitamin B8 — however — it is not a vitamin.

As research has progressed, we have learned that the human body — specifically the liver — and the brain can produce up to 4 grams of inositol a day. (2)

Bodily concentrations of inositol depend partially on intake levels. (1)

Naturally occurring sources of inositol include fruits — especially cantaloupe and citrus — grains, beans, and nuts.

While there are nine forms of inositol, the most heavily researched forms include:

  • D-chiro-inositol
  • Inositol hexaphosphate (IP6)
  • Myo-inositol

Inositol has received much attention for its health benefits — it has distinctive properties that may aid in energy metabolism and metabolic disorders, such as improving insulin sensitivity. (3)

Additionally, research has also found that the use of both D-chiro-inositol and myo-inositol may assist in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome. (4)

Inositol is also available in its various forms through supplementation and is often used as a complementary therapy to treat multiple medical conditions.

This article discusses the potential health benefits of inositol, brand recommendations and dosage, and possible side effects.

Health Benefits of Inositol

Inositol has been studied for several disease states and ways to optimize health. Below are some of the benefits associated with inositol.

May Improve Treatment of Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes

Evidence suggests that inositol plays a role in glucose metabolism, and a deficiency may lead to insulin resistance and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes(5)

Insulin is responsible for the uptake of sugar from the bloodstream into cells. In cases of insulin resistance, the body has an impaired response to insulin — leading to elevated blood sugar levels.

Inositol has long been identified as a possible mediator of insulin action and is essential in preventing insulin resistance. (6)

In particular, IP6 has been shown to reduce blood glucose and delay carbohydrate digestion and absorption after supplementation. (7)

Additionally, clinical trials have indicated that both myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol possess insulin-imitating properties and may improve insulin sensitivity in metabolic conditions associated with insulin resistance — such as type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). (8, 9)

Gestational Diabetes is a form of high blood sugar affecting pregnant women.

In a small study of 32 individuals with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes, patients were supplemented with myo-inositol (550 mg) and D-chiro-inositol (13.8 mg) two times a day alongside their prescribed glucose-lowering medication. (8)

After three consecutive months of supplementation, patients experienced a significant reduction in fasting glucose and blood sugar markers. (8)

An additional study of 32 women with GDM saw a decrease in the need for insulin medication when supplemented with 1,200 mg of myo-inositol and 400 μg of folic acid a day. (9)

Summary 

While more extensive studies are needed, this data suggests that myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol may be an appropriate complementary therapy for individuals with insulin resistance medical conditions.

May Improve Cancer Treatment

Research has found that IP6 reduces cancer growth and enhances the anticancer effects of chemotherapy.

Additionally, the improved immunity and antioxidant properties of IP6 and myo-inositol may contribute to tumor cell destruction. (10)

Furthermore, while research has found modest anticancer potential from myo-inositol, the best anticancer results were seen with treatment that combined IP6 and myo-inositol. (10)

In 2019, researchers reported a case of a patient with metastatic cancer who declined traditional therapy and chose to try an over-the-counter supplement of IP6 and inositol. The patient achieved complete cancer remission and has remained in remission for three years. (11)

Summary

While a single case report does not provide sufficient data to make any medical claims, alongside emerging clinical and experimental data, it may suggest the important consideration of IP6 and myo-inositol as adjunctive therapy to chemotherapy and the need for further research.

May Improve Symptoms of PCOS

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder affecting 1 in 10 women of reproductive age. (12)

While the exact cause of PCOS is unknown, early treatment may reduce the risk of long-term conditions such as insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. (13)

Researchers have found a possible link between PCOS and poor metabolism of inositol — suggesting this may contribute to insulin resistance. (14)

Studies have found a combination of myo-inositol (MI) and D-chiro inositol (DCI) in a 40:1 MI/DCI ratio most beneficial for PCOS treatment, restoring ovulation, and improving insulin activity. (15)

Summary 

The impaired metabolism of inositol in PCOS patients may justify supplementation for managing the onset of insulin resistance and supporting the restoration of ovulation.

Related: The PCOS Diet

Food Sources of Inositol

Inositol can be found in a variety of foods, including: (16)

  • Whole grains — such as brown rice and wheat bran
  • Legumes and beans
  • Peas
  • Seeds — such as sesame seeds
  • Nuts — such as almonds and walnuts
  • Fruit — such as cantaloupe and citrus (except lemons)
  • Liver

Inositol Supplements

While nothing can replace a healthy and varied diet, inositol can also be taken through over-the-counter supplements to help support your needs.

Depending on your health goals, different forms of inositol may be appropriate.

Wholesome Story Myo-Inositol & D-Chiro Inositol

Wholesome Story is a blend of 2,000 mg of myo-inositol and 50 mg of D-chiro inositol, following a ratio of 40:1.

This product may help to support healthy hormone levels, menstrual cycles, and ovarian health.

Wholesome Story is vegan-friendly and third-party tested. Third-party testing helps to ensure the potency and accuracy of a product.

The product can be purchased at wolesomestory.com for:

  • One-time purchase: $25.95
  • Monthly subscription: $23.36

If you do not see desired results within 90 days of purchasing, you can get a full refund.

It is recommended to take four capsules daily — preferably with a meal or as directed by your physician.

This product has undergone added testing to ensure its accuracy — additionally — the dosage is backed by clinical research to improve symptoms of PCOS.

Alongside a healthy diet and exercise, Wholesome Story’s inositol product may improve symptoms of PCOS.

Pure Encapsulations Inositol Powder

Pure Encapsulations Inositol Powder provides a solution for individuals who do not like taking pills.

One serving provides 4.1 grams of myo-inositol.

It is recommended to take two scoops, one to two times per day with or between meals, or as advised by your healthcare professional.

This product is vegan-friendly, vegetarian, GMO-free, certified gluten-free, and backed by science.

Research has found a dose between 2–10 grams per day beneficial for insulin resistance. (17)

Alongside a well-balanced diet and appropriate exercise, this product may be a more natural approach for managing insulin resistance and healthy blood sugar levels.

Nature’s Way Cell Forté IP-6 & Inositol

IP-6 has been linked to decreased cancer growth and enhanced immunity. (10)

Additionally, research has found improved results from a combination of IP-6 and inositol. (10)

Cell Forté contains a combination of 800 mg of IP-6 and 220 mg of inositol. It also contains magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus.

The product is free of yeast, gluten, soy, dairy, artificial colors and flavors, wheat, and preservatives.

The recommended dose for adults is two capsules twice daily.

You may increase the dosage to two capsules four times a day for intensive use. Only increase your dosage under the supervision of your physician.

The product is available in-store or online for:

  • 120 capsules: $29.69
  • 240 capsules: $57.29

If you are looking for a combination of IP-6 and inositol to enhance immune health, Cell Forté may help support your goals alongside a healthy diet and exercise.

Side Effects and Dosage

Currently, there is no daily requirement for inositol. (18)

However, depending on your health needs, supplementation may be helpful — under the supervision of your physician.

Research has found that myo-inositol doses ranging between 2 and 10 grams a day positively affect glucose metabolism and insulin action. (17)

Additionally, 18 grams for three months or 4 grams for 12 months has been proven safe and well-tolerated. Mild side effects may occur at higher doses —  including nausea, gas, and diarrhea. (16)

This product is not recommended for pregnant and nursing mothers without a physician’s approval.

Finally, individuals under 18 and people with a known medical condition or taking prescription medication should consult a physician before taking any dietary supplement.

Frequently Asked Questions

What foods are high in inositol?

Food sources high in inositol include:

  • Whole grains — such as brown rice and wheat bran
  • Legumes and beans
  • Peas
  • Seeds — such as sesame seeds
  • Nuts — such as almonds and walnuts
  • Fruit — such as cantaloupe and citrus (except lemons)
  • Liver

While supplements can help you reach your intake goals, it is always best to focus on whole food sources first.

Is there a daily recommended intake of inositol?

No, currently, there is no daily requirement for inositol. (18)

Are there side effects to taking inositol?

Mild side effects may occur at higher doses — including nausea, gas, and diarrhea. (16)

Can inositol take the place of prescribed medications?

No.

While findings have been promising, it is too soon to consider inositol as a stand-alone treatment. Further research is needed to determine this potential.

In the meantime, inositol is well tolerated and may provide support as an adjunctive therapy under a doctor's guidance.

The Bottom Line

Inositol plays many roles in your body — including managing insulin’s action on blood sugar and hormone signaling.

Research has supported inositol supplementation in managing insulin resistance conditions such as type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes mellitus. (6)

Additionally, there is a unique link between inositol intake and PCOS management. (15)

Studies have also found enhanced immunity and antioxidant properties of inositol and anticancer mechanisms. (10)

The best approach to increasing inositol in your daily diet is to first focus on whole food sources.

If you are looking to treat a specific condition under the guidance of your physician, inositol supplementation may be a natural and beneficial route.

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At WellnessVerge, we only use primary references for our articles, including peer reviewed medical journals or well-respected academic institutions.

  1. Inositol | ScienceDirect:
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/inositol
  2. Inositols in Insulin Signaling and Glucose Metabolism | Hindawi:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6286734/pdf/IJE2018-1968450.pdf
  3. Role of Inositols and Inositol Phosphates in Energy Metabolism | PubMed:
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33139672/
  4. Myo-Inositol and Its Derivatives: Their Emerging Role in the Treatment of Human Diseases | Frontiers in Pharmacology:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6798087/pdf/fphar-10-01172.pdf
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    https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ije/2016/9132052/
  9. A pilot study of gestational diabetes mellitus not controlled by diet alone: First-line medical treatment with myoinositol may limit the need for insulin | ScienceDirect:
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1262363616300106
  10. Molecules | Free Full-Text | Inositol Hexaphosphate (IP6) and Colon Cancer: From Concepts and First Experiments to Clinical Application:
    https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/25/24/5931
  11. Inositol hexaphosphate plus inositol induced complete remission in stage IV melanoma: a case report | Melanoma Research:
    https://journals.lww.com/melanomaresearch/Abstract/2019/06000/Inositol_hexaphosphate_plus_inositol_induced.15.aspx
  12. Polycystic ovary syndrome | OASH:
    https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/polycystic-ovary-syndrome
  13. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic:
    https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pcos/symptoms-causes/syc-20353439#:~:text=Polycystic%20ovary%20syndrome%20(PCOS)%20is,fail%20to%20regularly%20release%20eggs.
  14. Inositols and metabolic disorders: From farm to bedside | ScienceDirect:
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2225411019312660#sec5
  15. The 40:1 myo-inositol/D-chiro-inositol plasma ratio is able to restore ovulation in PCOS patients: comparison with other ratios | PubMed:
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31298405/#:~:text=Results%3A%20We%20found%20that%20the,modified%20in%20favour%20of%20DCI.
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    https://openheart.bmj.com/content/9/1/e001989
  17. Inositols and metabolic disorders: From farm to bedside | PMC:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7340869/
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    https://openheart.bmj.com/content/9/1/e001989#ref-35