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Latest Edit: Hector 2014-03-17 (EDT)

See Also Food Supplements

Inositol is unofficially part of the complex of B vitamins and functions similarly to choline. Inositol can be found in cell membranes where it exists in the form known as phosphatidylinositol. Although it is not considered an essential nutrient in the human diet, it does have many benefits. First, it displays a lipotropic effect meaning that it helps to export fat from the liver and aids in proper lipid metabolism. This is critical for optimal health and proper functioning of the liver. Second, inositol is also important for the proper functioning of nerves, the brain, and muscles. Third, inositol is found as a fiber compound known as phytic acid. This compound is known to exert anticancer effects and may be why high fiber diets are protective against cancer.[1]

Article Phospholipids choline, serine, and inositol, IHP, [1], September 2011

Food Sources

Inositol is found in food sources mainly as a fiber component known as phytic acid (inositol phosphate). Intestinal bacteria release inositol from phytic acid. The form available in animal sources is known as myo-inositol.


The following is a list of the primary uses for inositol. [1]

  • Liver Disorders: Inositol is used as a liptropic factor used to treat a variety of liver disorders.
  • Depression and Panic Attacks: Inositol is essential for the proper functioning of serotonin and acetylcholine amongst other neurotransmitters. Low levels of brain inositol may lead to depression and supplementation with inositol has shown positive antidepressant effects in several studies. Studies have also shown positive results in terms of treatment of panic disorders.
  • Diabetes: Inositol has shown some positive results in treating diabetic neuropathy. Supplementation of inositol possibly improves conduction velocities in nerves and may be considered for a comprehensive treatment of diabetes but should not be used alone.

Assessment Procedure

Blood and CSF inositol levels have been used in the laboratory setting but are not in clinical use.[2]

Prescribing Considerations

The recommended dosages have not yet been established. To determine what your specific requirements are talk to your naturopathic doctor or other trained medical professional.

  • Inositol is available commercially as inositol monophosphate.[1]


Inositol is generally considered safe and no toxic effects have been reported with supplementation.[2]

  • Nausea and diarrhea have been reported occasionally with larger doses.
  • No long term studies have been done on safety in those using inositol chronically.
  • Children: Evidence is lacking on safety in children and infants.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
  • Inositol may effect oxytocin and uterine contractions during pregnancy. Evidence is lacking regarding adverse effects to fetal development during pregnancy or to breast-fed infants. Caution is advised.
  • Contraindications
  • Precautions
  • Use of inositol in individuals with bipolar disorder may trigger manic episodes; use only myo-inositol under medical supervision.
  • Drug Interactions:[2]
Supportive or Beneficial
  • Lithium depletes brain stores of inositol. Co-administration may reduce adverse effects associated with long-term lithium therapy especially psoriasis and polydipsia-polyuria. Clinical trials are warranted.
  • Nutrient Interactions[2]
  • Calcium, Iron, Zinc - Phytic acid (the form of inositol in plant food sources) can chelate multivalent metal ions especially these three nutrients which can lead to poor absorption. Standard oral preparation do no exhibit this same effect.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Murray Michael T (1996) Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements, The Essential Guide for Improving Your Health Naturally, Prima Publishing.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Stargrove Mitchell Bebell, Treasure Jonathan, McKee Dwight L (2008) Herb, Nutrient, and Drug Interactions, Clinical Implications and Therapeutic Strategies. Mosby