Inositol is a form of sugar found in your body, in some foods and as a supplement. Your body needs inositol for the development and growth of cells. But research suggests that inositol may have many potential health benefits. People use it for metabolic syndrome and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), among other health conditions.
Inositol is a form of sugar your body naturally produces to provide structure to your cells. It can also be found in certain foods, including meat, fruits, corn, beans, grains and legumes. The typical American diet contains 1 gram of inositol a day. But research suggests that taking an inositol supplement may have many health benefits.
Inositol is frequently called vitamin B8, but it’s not really a vitamin. However, research has shown it may provide many important functions. In addition to playing a role in the development of your cell membranes, inositol may also have an effect on insulin and certain chemical messengers in your brain. This may influence your body’s ability to manage metabolic and mental health conditions.
As a supplement, inositol is commonly known as:
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Your body needs inositol for the functioning and development of your cells. While research is still ongoing, people also use inositol for many different health reasons. Inositol benefits may include:
People use inositol for many different health conditions. Research has shown that the supplement may help with the following:
By taking an inositol supplement, you may be able to better manage these metabolic risk factors. Some research suggests that you may see an improvement in your blood pressure, as well as your triglyceride, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. But more research is needed. Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before you start a supplement for metabolic syndrome.
Studies show that by taking an inositol supplement, especially with folic acid, you can improve many of the symptoms of PCOS. This includes improved blood sugar, reduced blood pressure and lower triglyceride levels. It may also promote ovulation and increase pregnancy rates. Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before you start a supplement for polycystic ovary syndrome.
Gestational diabetes (GD) can occur when your blood sugar is too high during your pregnancy. GD can cause many complications during your pregnancy and includes the risk of preterm birth. A preterm birth occurs when your baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Studies show that taking an inositol supplement with folic acid during your pregnancy may prevent GD and lower your risk of preterm birth. Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before you start taking any new supplements during your pregnancy.
Depression is a common mental health condition that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. Some research suggests that people with depression have low levels of inositol in their brains. Some studies suggest taking an inositol supplement might help balance important hormones in your brain, including serotonin and dopamine. More research is needed, but this may help improve the symptoms of depression. Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before you start a supplement for depression.
Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder in which you have many unexpected panic attacks, which are sudden, temporary feelings of fear with strong physical reactions. Research is limited, but some studies suggest that by taking an inositol supplement, you may be able to reduce the number and severity of panic attacks you experience. Don’t stop taking your medications as prescribed, and be sure to talk with your healthcare provider before starting a new supplement for panic disorder.
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes intense shifts in mood, thinking patterns, energy levels and behavior. Research is limited, but some studies state that by adding an inositol supplement to your prescribed treatment, you may be able to reduce the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before you start a supplement for bipolar disorder.
People use inositol for other health conditions, but the following don’t have as much scientific evidence to back up their use.
Healthcare providers generally consider inositol safe when taken in low doses for up to 10 weeks. But it’s not safe to stop taking medications that your provider prescribed without talking to them first. In many cases, inositol supplements may be added to treatment plans. (They don’t replace them.)
You may experience certain mild side effects while taking the inositol supplement, including:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Inositol is a form of sugar your body needs for the growth and development of your cells. But research suggests that taking inositol as a supplement may have many additional health benefits. While more research is needed, inositol may help in the treatment of many different metabolic and mental health conditions. The supplement seems to be safe and produces very mild side effects if taken at low doses. Always discuss your use of any vitamins and supplements with your healthcare provider.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/06/2023.
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