By Amber Charles-Alexis, MSPH, RDN
June 7, 2021
Inositol is a popular nutraceutical therapy for the management of PCOS. This article explains what inositol is, its function and potential role in mitigating negative symptoms of PCOS.
Picture: Wix, stock image
What is inositol?
In the body, inositol is made from glucose when phosphate sugar-containing compounds, such as phosphatidylinositol (PI) are broken down (2).
In women, some inositol is found in the ovaries and follicular fluid (3).
On average, 500-700 mg of inositol is obtained from food per day, and up to 4g per day is made in the body (3).
However, the natural production of inositol is reduced in women with PCOS.
(Read the blog: Understanding PCOS and the role of nutrition if you're unfamiliar with PCOS).
What are the types of inositol?
Despite their similar chemical structures, MI and DCI perform different metabolic functions.
What is the function of inositol?
Inositol is involved in many metabolic and biochemical pathways in the body, specifically female reproduction (3).
The inositol compounds are also involved in insulin production and the regulation of glucose (sugar) and fat/lipid in the body (2).
The role of inositol in PCOS management
Metformin is the main treatment for the management of high blood glucose (sugar) in women with PCOS, but it has negative side effects, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and the reduced absorption of vitamin B12 (4, 8).
Myo-inositol stimulates the uptake of glucose (sugar) from the blood into cells to produce energy or to be stored, and D-Chiro-inositol is involved in storing glucose as glycogen in the liver and muscles (3).
Combined, they both support improved blood sugar control in women with PCOS.
Regular menstrual cycles
Matured oocytes (eggs) and restored ovulation
Reduced body mass
Reduced fatty liver (in mice studies)
Flaxseed and sweet potato have also been shown to have similar effects to inositol (4).
Risks of using inositol
The dosages used in the various studies were as much as 4 times greater than the amount of inositol consumed from foods and its long-term impact is yet to be determined.