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What Is Inositol? | Benefits & Side Effects

Inositol is a pseudovitamin and is falsely said to be a B Vitamin (Vitamin B8) and is naturally found in plants and animals. Inositol is commonly known as myo-inositol due to the active stereoisomer “myo-inositol”. Inositol has a chemical structure similar to glucose having the chemical formula C6H12O6. Let’s look deeper into the properties of inositol and its health benefits.

Inositol is a carbohydrate and it tastes sweet but the sweetness is far less than common sugar (sucrose). Inositol is a word used in dietary supplements whereas myo-inositol is the preferred name. Myo-inositol is highly utilized in the structural foundation of secondary messengers and eukaryotic cells.

Inositol is also an important component of structural lipids and its various phosphates (PI and PPI). Inositol and its phosphates are mostly found in fruits like oranges and cantaloupe.


Inositol And The Human Body

Inositol’s primary function is to keep fats collecting from the body particularly in the liver. Inositol is added to energy drinks because it is efficient in converting nutrients into energy.

Highest levels of Inositol concentrations are found in the heart and brain; inositol works with neurotransmitters in message circulation. Inositol has numerous health benefits as stated below.

Inositol Health Benefits

  •  Promoting Sleep

One of the major reasons for not getting asleep at night is over-thinking. The human brain is unable to rest and thoughts keep coming and going thereby keeping us awake. The thought process is guided by serotonin, a hormone. When serotonin levels are low, we are unable to sleep – maintaining optimal levels of serotonin promotes deep and sound sleep. Inositol works very well with serotonin and makes sure that the levels are high enough to make you feel peaceful during your sleeping hours.

Inositol not only works to promote healthy serotonin levels but it also communicates with the GABA receptors in the brain. GABA receptors proper functioning ensures that you keep your cool. In situations of higher stress, GABA receptors don’t work correctly thereby imparting insomnia. Inositol keeps a check on the proper functioning of GABA receptors and makes sure they are covered to give you anxiety- and stress-free calmness.

  • The dosage of Inositol for Sleep

If you are having sleepless nights, supplementing with inositol can be a good idea. Inositol needs to build up in your system so administering a daily dosage of 0.5 grams to 2 grams for a month should promote peaceful sleep. Inositol is a single dose on a single day won’t be effective, so if you are a person who is having countless sleepless nights, try taking inositol 2 hours before you go to bed for at least one month.

  • Anxiety Relief

It is believed that inositol is one of the best drugs for anxiety that doesn’t have many side effects. Inositol consumption lowers the anxiety symptoms – GABA receptors are the culprit along with serotonin. GABA receptors are responsible for keeping you cool and depleted levels of these make you anxious. Inositol works really well here as it almost mimics the functioning of depleted GABA receptors and works as a substitute. As a substitute, it replaces the non-functional GABA receptors and occupies the same role.

People suffering from anxiety usually have low levels of serotonin. Administration of inositol helps in regulating serotonin levels thereby imparting a calm mindset.

  • The dosage of Inositol for Anxiety Relief

For the treatment of anxiety, inositol dosage differs with time. To start with, a dosage of 2000 mg twice a day should be fine (4000 mg per day). Each week, 1000 mg could be added to the existing dosage and keep on increasing it until the daily dosage reaches 18000 mg.

The dosage seems to be high but inositol is naturally found in the body and it has very rare side effects like gastric trouble.

female holding dumbbells

  •  OCD Treatment

OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It’s a physiological disorder potentially caused due to lower levels of serotonin – so again, inositol comes into play here. Inositol is converted into two neurotransmitter chemicals into the brain that regulates serotonin levels.

A study conducted on multiple OCD patients has lamented the fact that supplementing with Inositol has gradually improved OCD and depression levels have also fallen.

Inositol is a natural drug for the treatment of OCD but a variation known as cholin inositol is available. Cholin inositol is a prescribed drug and should only be used under a qualified physician.

People suffering from OCD should never consume caffeine as caffeine increases the brain activity and decreases inositol levels.

  • The dosage of Inositol for OCD

There is no general or RDI dosage for OCD patients. OCD patients should consult a physician for the required dosage.

  • Hair Care and Growth

Depleted levels of Inositol affect the hair and individuals suffering from hair fall or itchy scalp might be inositol deficient. Deficiency in inositol levels happens largely due to these two reasons:

  1. Diet doesn’t include inositol: Diet might be the main problem as most of us don’t supplement with B Vitamins as well as Inositol. Inositol is found in citrus fruits as well as other fruits and vegetables. If the diet doesn’t have those foods, it might lead to lower levels of Inositol hence hair issues.
  2. Caffeine intake: Too much of tea, coffee and alcohol intake reduces Inositol levels; thereby giving rise to hair as well as other health issues.

Supplementing with Inositol powder can be beneficial for hair growth.

  • Other Benefits Of Inositol

  • Fights depression symptoms
  • Inositol hexaphosphate is used in cancer treatment
  • Inositol improves weight loss
  • Liver detoxification when combined with choline
  • Helps in improving blood circulation.

Side Effects of Inositol

Inositol is a naturally occurring substance and has very rare and minimal side effects. Side effects might surface to first time users and are in form of rashes and irritation. The body itself fixes these issues with time.

Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers are not advised to consume inositol though there is no research that shows the side effects.

Nausea is a common side effect associated with B-vitamin consumption and can be fixed by administrating smaller dosages initially to make the body used to it.

Apart from all this, inositol, if mixed with other substances might have side effects otherwise it should be a safe supplement to consume. The body would discard excess consumption straightaway.


Inositol has a lot of health benefits,  it can prevent depression and promote hair growth, sleep and fat loss!  Might be time to try boosting your inositol levels with some supplements.

Tell us what you think and what effect does this have on you below.

Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

Liam Swithenbank

Liam Swithenbank

Writer and expert

Liam Swithenbank is an expert supplier quality assurance technologist. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Sport and Exercise Science and a Master of Science degree in Nutrition, and his expertise now lie in specialist ingredients for sports nutrition products. Liam’s academic research has involved investigating the effects of sodium bicarbonate on power output in elite rugby players, and also the effects of beetroot juice on VO2 max on a cohort of well-trained runners. For his postgraduate thesis, Liam investigated the effects of protein intake on lean tissue mass. Liam’s experience spans from working in compliance and labelling to developing new products, for a number of large companies in the UK. Liam is a big believer in balance, and believes moderation is key to sustain a healthy and active lifestyle. Find out more about Liam’s experience here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/liamswithenbank/ During his spare time Liam enjoys rock climbing, cycling and good food. Liam is a massive foodie and enjoys creating and developing new and exciting recipes in his home kitchen.

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