Inositol is a naturally occurring nutrient that is usually classified as a carbocyclic polyol. The most common form is sometimes referred to as myo-inositol. In the human body, it plays a major role in preventing the collection of fats in the liver, as well as promoting healthy hair growth. The presence of the nutrient also aids in efficient processing of nutrients into the conversion of energy, which in turn helps the body to maintain a healthy metabolism. It also can be considered brain food, as the nutrient is necessary to properly nourish the brain.
The sweet nature of inositol comes in part from the properties that make up the nutrient, in particular the component of cyclohexanehexol. While still a form of sugar, it works differently from glucose. It is required to keep the body running smoothly, and can cause a number of side effects when levels are low. A deficiency can lead to constipation, high cholesterol, problems with vision and general eye health, and hair loss.
While there is no doubt that inositol is helpful to the normal operations of the human body, studies continue to be conducted to determine if there is any definitive proof that adding more to the diet will reverse any major health issue. Some studies indicate that it may affect illnesses like depression and cancer. Some researchers believe that it can work in conjunction with other nutrients to help a body recover from illness.
A number of foods contain at least trace amounts of inositol. Cereals with a high bran content are relatively good sources, as are red beans, especially kidney beans. Among fruits, oranges and cantaloupes tend to have higher amounts, although most fruits do have at least a small amount. Many of the currently popular energy drinks, sometimes referred to as boost drinks, include this nutrient in their ingredients.
It should be noted, however, that there does not appear to be any energy drink on the market that contains more than a small amount of the nutrient. In fact, one estimate is that it would take in excess of 300 standard sized energy drinks consumed in one 24 hour period to reap any type of benefit at all. The nutrient is more easily obtained by eating a sensible and balanced diet each day, and not from any type of quick fixes.