Inositol is often considered a B-vitamin, although it can be made in the human body from glucose. Its primary function is in the structure of the body’s cell membranes, where it is found as part of a phospholipid called phosphatidyl inositol.

Inositol has been extensively studied with regards to its effects on the brain and nervous system, including its link with serotonin. A study from 1978 found that depressed patients have low levels of inositol in the cerebrospinal fluid compared with healthy patients[71] and this led to the study of inositol for the treatment of depression. One double-blind trial on 28 depressed patients found that those receiving 12 grams of inositol a day showed a significantly greater improvement in depressive symptoms than those in placebo after four weeks of treatment[72]. Inositol has also been found to relieve symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder[73] and panic disorder[74]. It is thought that inositol may help in these conditions by regulating serotonin levels, including reversing desensitisation of serotonin receptors[75].

Taking inositol may also be beneficial for sleep. Although there don’t seem to be any clinical trials specifically examining this effect, several authors have noted that taking at least 1000 mg of inositol at night may facilitate sleep or improve sleep quality[76,77].

Inositol may have antioxidant activity too. A specific form (isomer) of inositol called myo-inositol is known to act as an antioxidant[78], as is myo-inositol hexaphosphate, also known as Ip6 or phytic acid[79,80]. Both of these can be made by the body from inositol.



71. Barkai AI et al. Reduced myo-inositol levels in cerebrospinal fluid from patients with affective disorder. Biol Psychiatry. 1978 Feb;13(1):65-72.

72. Levine J et al. Double-blind, controlled trial of inositol treatment of depression. Am J Psychiatry. 1995 May;152(5):792-4.

73. Fux M et al. Inositol treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Am J Psychiatry. 1996 Sep;153(9):1219-21.

74. Benjamin J et al. Double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial of inositol treatment for panic disorder. Am J Psychiatry. 1995 Jul;152(7):1084-6.

75. Levine J. Controlled trials of inositol in psychiatry. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 1997 May;7(2):147-55.

76. Hendler, Sheldon Saul. The Doctor’s Vitamin and Mineral Encyclopedia. Arrow Books, London, England. 1991:253-254.

77. Pearson, D. & Shaw, S. Life Extension: A Practical Scientific Approach. Warner Book, New York, NY, USA. 1982:193.

78. Jiang WD et al. In vitro interceptive and reparative effects of myo-inositol against copper-induced oxidative damage and antioxidant system disturbance in primary cultured fish enterocytes. Aquat Toxicol. 2013 May 15;132-133:100-10.

79. Rao PS et al. Protection of ischemic heart from reperfusion injury by myo-inositol hexaphosphate, a natural antioxidant. Ann Thorac Surg. 1991 Oct;52(4):908-12.

80. Graf E, Eaton JW. Antioxidant functions of phytic acid. Free Radic Biol Med. 1990;8(1):61-9. 





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