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What is Inositol?

Inositol is a carbohydrate found in your body and certain foods, playing a pivotal role in cell signaling and fat metabolism. Often associated with B-vitamins, it supports mood balance, insulin function, and cellular growth. Intrigued by how this nutrient can impact your health? Discover the myriad ways inositol benefits your well-being and how to incorporate it into your diet.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

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.

Red beans contain inositol.
Red beans contain inositol.

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.

Energy drinks contain only trace amounts of inositol.
Energy drinks contain only trace amounts of inositol.

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.

Cantaloupes contain a considerable amount of inositol.
Cantaloupes contain a considerable amount of inositol.

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.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including AllTheScience, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including AllTheScience, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

Learn more...

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Discussion Comments


My doctor recommended I take 3 750 mg. myo-isotol twice a day. I can only find 500 mg pills. Is it better to take "more" myo-isotol or less? I cannot find 750 mg and the 750 can't be cut in half (what I thought would be the best solution!).


I started taking Choline and Inositol for my hair. It has been thinning for about seven years. As a woman going through menopause, I can tell you that I have grown tired of the five years of hot flashes. I take an herb called vitex and turmeric (both in powder form, added to fruit/protein shake in the mornings) to help raise progesterone naturally. Taking these has made hot flashes more bearable, and I have an idea of what life would be like without them.

About two weeks into taking the Choline and inositol capsules, along with an extra capsule of just inositol, I noticed that my hot flashes had become barely noticeable. Once I credited it to the inositol, I started taking a second dosage in the afternoon of just the inositol. I have to say, no hot flashes and no night sweats, and only on occasion do I even feel the slightest of what I recognize might be a hot flash. I am so excited. After five years, I feel as if I'm beginning a new life. I am starting to be more active, because in the past so many activities triggered hot flashes. I've recognized for a long time that I have become way too sedentary because of the hot flashes. Today I am going to start an exercise program. I'm so excited, thanks to inositol.


Can inositol be used with St Johns wort and sam-e for OCE? I have severe OCD and am trying this combination. Does anyone have any experience with this combination?


Don't take it right before bed. I did not sleep at all last night after taking 1500 mg. Taken in combination with folic acid, it is supposed to help women get pregnant.


Even B vitamins can be toxic in high enough levels.


Several years ago I suffered a case of shingles. Actually when it was diagnosed, I was relieved, having thought I was dying from some crazy unknown disease. Doctors recommended a drug when used at the very onset would stop the problem. It did, but it took weeks to get the drug out of my system. Finally, I found a holistic doctor who told me shingles rarely recurs, that what I experienced was a form of herpes which followed the original path of the shingles.

He had me take ten Inositol tablets the minute I noticed pain. If pain wasn't gone in an hour, take ten more. I've had no problems since. Inositol also is relaxing too. I get mine from Standard Process which is available from professionals and some health food stores. It's cheap, too. I carry it everywhere: to work, on trips, and in my purse. I enjoy good health only because I take no drugs. At 82 my motto is onward and upward and keep smiling. -- Mary C.


Any new updates on Myo Inositol? I would love to hear how people are doing long term on it.


I heard about IP-6 on a popular TV show and kept it at the back of my mind thinking, I would like to try it. I figured that it would take time to get it absorbed into my system for me to see an beneficial effects. I was wrong. Thirty minutes after taking on an empty stomach, I noticed that I had increased mental focus and clarity and energy. I thought I must be imagining things or making myself feel so good.

One of the major things I have noticed is that I take this at work around 10:00 a.m. and then around 2 or 3 p.m. in the afternoon. I no longer get the exhausted feeling I used to get - the afternoon slump no longer happens. I run up and down the stairs at work with energy I have not had in years. IP-6 is a great blessing to me. I am 54 years old. I recommend this to anyone.


Where can I buy inositol? Is it available in the drug stores?


I am 50 years old and I have bean on IP6 for last two years due to my HCV and liver cancer. My MRI, CT and bloodwork all look great. In addition to IP6, I am taking Chaga,raishi and cordyceps mushrooms at certain intervals. My HCV riba and interferon treatment didn't work for me, but it looks like the herbs are.

If you want to know more about IP6 and how it works look up IP6. The MD who is doing research is AbulKalam M. Shamsuddin, M.B.,B.S., PhD, Professor of Pathology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD, U.S.A.


I have suffered from chronic pain and insomnia for two years and I gave inositol a try a few months ago and I honestly had never felt better. I have no pain and improved energy levels. However, after I stopped taking them the symptoms returned so I bought some more and have been taking them for about a week and already I feel better. I don't know what it does for you, but it's blooming brilliant!


I am taking medicine for my hypo thyroid. Will taking IP6 hurt anything?


can inositol be given to kids ages four years and older?


Inositol is found in Monster Energy as well.


It all sounds wonderful but isn't inositol largely derived from soy and isn't all soy now GMO?


what have you heard about inositol helping women who suffer from PCOS?


Inositol really seems to give an energy boost. Its one of the things found in Red Bull. Go figure.


I take 18 grams of inositol daily, in powder form. It easily dissolves in water and has a slightly sweet taste. It took about seven weeks for the benefits to "kick-in". It helps to reduce my OCD, anxiety, and panic attacks significantly.


I have really bad sleep problems and I am wondering if inositol could be helpful. Ever since menopause, I have not had a good night's rest. I am ready to get rid of my insominia.


i used inositol to treat my cancer of the tonsil. I had meta-static squamous cell carcinoma-stage 3. In 10 days my tumor reduced in size by 20 percent

i was using inositol when i started my chemo and radiation but immediately restarted use when i finished the chemo portion.

I used three heaping teaspoons/day(18 grams) in a glass of water. i went through 1130 grams of inositol and am now cancer free! check out NBC Nightly News April 7th "new test id's lung cancer" and see for yourself. --art


can it be taken with celexa or the sleeping aid zopiclone? --BB


I have been told that inositol 600mg per day will help with kidney stones. I would like to hear what you think about this. lisasflavoredfudge


I am using it for my tinnitus. Get the book "The Edge Effect" by Dr. Eric Baverman. It gives you all the doses and diet to try. I also take theanine and Gaba plus a few other things. Side effects are that I am feeling so happy and full of energy.


I have been diagnosed with gallstones and have just started taking inositol two times a day to help "melt" them and flush them away. This was recommended to me by a holistic nutritionist. Better than having the gallbladder out as the doctor recommended!


Does inositol have any connection to healthy ear care? Suffering from tinnitus.


I have had very bad liver functions test for many years. My MD has been very worried. I have taken 1000mg/day of Inositol for the last 45 days.

I just got the results of my liver test and the were within the normal range for the first time in decades! My MD is astonished, as am I. The only reason can be the Inositol, nothing else has changed. Has anyone done research on this?


The article sounds like a pitch for research funding. If you have cancer, get on the internet and read all you can find on the subject and you will also find there have been numerous studies related to inositol. No one need die of cancer.

The last thing you should consider for cancer is chemotherapy or radiation. The cures for cancer have been known for years, but don't make the money that conventional treatment does, so beware.

Dr. Otto Warburg discovered what cancer is back in the 1920's, for which he received a Nobel prize in 1931, and has been ignored by the medical profession ever since. Ray Sahelian, M.D. has an interesting site on inositol and there have been some interesting nutritional discoveries and while you are at it, look up A1 Beta Casein and celiac. You may want to change your diet.


I was introduced to Inositol by a friend who said it would help me with Insomnia and it does! I am amazed but still worry about long term effects. From all I am reading it addresses various health issues. Still worried.


where can I buy inositol? is there any common brand names I can pick out at a pharmacy otc?


Tonight I saw the piece on Inositol on NBC nightly news. I'm so excited at the prospect of it changing pre-cancerous cells back to normal. Do we know of any side effects?


NBC News just had piece on Inositol being a cure for lung cancer. It is still in trials, but very promising. Also may be suggested to take it prophylactically for former smokers.


For the person with the fiance who has stage 3 lung cancer. You need to get some chaga mushroom immediately (research wild alaskan chaga and there's a woman that sells it by the handful for 15 bucks-it grows on birch trees that are in their final days).

It is the most well known cancer fighter in the world. Good luck!


I used insoitol for bipolar and it works. give it a try.


Inositol is brain food- I completely agree. The supplement is also being researched as useful to people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Trichotillomania, because it reduces the sensation that comes with the symptoms of each. This way the compulsions are reduced to a habit, not a "need."


I'm taking 1000mg of Niaspan a day to increase my good cholesterol. I've been told that taking inositol will help reduce the prickly heat feeling/hot flashes/ flushing I'm having. Anybody else know if this is true?


I use Inositol every day, twice a day to help keep my head on straight. It helps me maintain a focus and energy. No hair gain yet, but hopefully soon.


I've previously had celiac disease, Hashimoto's (triggered by gluten), hypothyroidism/hypometabolism, major depression and severe insomnia. Even after getting off gluten and getting on liothyronine, I still had sleep issues.

I read "The Edge Effect" in which Braverman says inositol is one remedy for insomnia. Sure enough, one 500mg cap improves sleep nicely; two caps make me feel a little groggy the next day. It's still unclear how the body makes inositol, and why my body won't make enough. Perhaps it has something to do with low protein; though my metabolic panel looks good, I am right at 6.5, the lower end of the total protein scale, which is 6.5-8.3 g/dl.


ChloeMo4 (post #11): So many factors contribute to hair loss, such as genetics, medications, etc. If you are on medication, consult with your doctor before introducing anything new to avoid counter-actions.


Can Inosital help with some hair loss in women?


The research that I've read on Inositol reported no toxicity as it is part of the B-Complex group. I am taking four 500mg. per day and a multi-vitamin. I take one at noon, one late afternoon and two before bedtime now. I feel great! Hair and nail growth is another plus.


I am taking Inositol 1/8 or 1/4 teaspoon in water al.

The milligram is 550. Can you tell me how long I could do this? It helps me sleep and relaxes me.

How much is safe for a daily allowance? I heard 10,000 mil can be taken.

Thank you



A sufferer of depression, panic attacks and bouts of psoriasis, I've found remarkable improvement using Inositol. I can "focus" and breathe normally and psoriasis has disappeared. I increased from one 500 mg. per day to two. I also take a good multivitamin.


nyyankee62, you may want to submit your request via the "Suggest a Topic" feature located in the wiseGEEK features drag down menu at the top of the page.


very nice written and helpful article about Inositol... Thank you.


my fiance was recently diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer. the oncologist said the only thing they could do for him is chemo/radiation therapy. i've talked to people who had different types of cancer(including lung cancer)and was told to have him take IP-6. i've researched it and it shows promise can you give me details on this supplement?


I've never heard about using Inositol for helping with the gall bladder, but I have heard of using Insitol along with the rest of the B vitamins to help restore balance to oversensitized nerves and also help promote a more even mood - maybe that is how it is good for the brain?


I am wondering about Inositol for not only proper liver function but for gall bladder as well. Also, I understand inositol is also known as vitamin B8, and more commonly used for the brain, is that true?


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    • Red beans contain inositol.
      By: andriigorulko
      Red beans contain inositol.
    • Energy drinks contain only trace amounts of inositol.
      By: lecostaloca
      Energy drinks contain only trace amounts of inositol.
    • Cantaloupes contain a considerable amount of inositol.
      By: Malyshchyts Viktar
      Cantaloupes contain a considerable amount of inositol.
    • A deficiency in inositol can lead to constipation.
      By: Ljupco Smokovski
      A deficiency in inositol can lead to constipation.
    • A deficiency of inositol may lead to hair loss.
      By: maska82
      A deficiency of inositol may lead to hair loss.