A Patient’s Guide to Inositol Supplements

Inositol, sometimes referred to as vitamin B8, can be found in all animal tissues, particularly the brain and heart where the highest levels are found. It plays a role in cell membrane formation and helps to keep them healthy. It also has other uses, as well as side effects.

Dietary Requirements

Our bodies produce adequate amounts of inositol naturally; however, if a person is sick or taking inositol for a specific reason they should consult their physician for the proper dosage. Inositol supplements are often recommended when a person is trying to increase their intake.

Natural Sources

Certain foods contain phytic acid which helps to release inositol into the body when the digestive system bacteria acts on it. These foods include beans, wheat bran, cantaloupe, oranges, nuts, and wheat.

Coffee and Deficiency

Coffee drinkers are often deficient in this substance and may benefit from inositol supplements to regulate their levels. The caffeine in coffee is said to significantly decrease a person’s inositol levels.

Benefits of Inositol

There are many purported benefits of inositol. However, it is said that these benefits are achieved with high doses of inositol supplements. Some benefits may include alleviating depression, attention deficit disorder, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and bulimia. It may also be beneficial for many of the symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome, cancer prevention, lithium-induced psoriasis, diabetic neuropathy, and premenstrual syndrome.

Side Effects

The only reported side effect of high dose inositol supplements is diarrhea. However, its safety has yet to be established for pregnant women, young children, nursing women, those with kidney disease, and those with liver disease. Though it is sometimes recommended to help alleviate some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder, there is a chance that it will trigger manic episodes. Because of this, those with bipolar disorder should only use it under strict doctor supervision. Those with allergies should consult their physician before taking this supplement.

Drug Interactions

Certain drugs can interact with inositol supplements. These include Carbatrol, Equetro, Epitol, Tegretol, Depakene, Depakote, Eskalith, Lithium, and Lithobid. For some patients, these interactions will be minimal and for some they will be life-threatening.

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