You may have heard that inositol supplementation has potential benefits, including regulating your hormones and reducing your anxiety. Read on to learn more.

 

By OBGYN and fertility specialist Dr. Kenosha Gleaton

Inositol has many potential benefits on egg health, hormone regulation, and treatment of PCOS symptoms, but there is also some research on its mental health benefits. Let's break down what some of the research says and determine if inositol can also reduce anxiety. 

What’s inositol?

Inositol is a vitamin-like, naturally occurring sugar that has a strong effect on many hormones and neurotransmitters in the body. Inositol plays a major role in our cell membranes and interacts with many important messengers in the brain, including serotonin and dopamine. Inositol has been used to treat PCOS, proven to regulate menstrual cycles and improve ovulation, as well as improve egg health. There is even some data that might show benefits for mental health. 

Inositol can be found in fiber-rich foods, as well as citrus fruit, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Inositol can also be found as a supplement, most commonly as a combination of myo-inositol (MI) and d-chiro-inositol (DCI). 

Inositol benefits

Inositol is becoming more popular for the treatment and management of various conditions, and so far the research is promising. Healthy ovarian function and egg quality are two important benefits observed from inositol supplementation. For those with irregular periods, fluctuating hormones, or PCOS, inositol has been shown to level out hormones, enhance insulin sensitivity, and promote regular ovulation. If you’re curious about your own hormone levels, look into the Everlywell at home hormone test.

Trials focused on mental health and inositol supplementation found therapeutic effects in disorders related to serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors, including depression, panic, and OCD. Another meta-analysis discovered that inositol may be beneficial for depressed patients, specifically those with premenstrual dysphoric disorder. 

For more information on inostiol’s benefits, read this article. 

Inositol and anxiety

Only a small number of studies have been done on inositols' effect on mental health, so data is limited. What we do know is that inositol has been linked to a reduction in depression, hostility, tension, and fatigue. A controlled trial concluded that illnesses related to serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors such as depression and anxiety disorders may benefit from inositol supplementation. However, a meta-analysis found no statistically significant difference of inositol supplementation on those with anxiety, but did notice a benefit for patients with depression.

Ultimately, more data is needed before any claims can be made about inositol’s ability to reduce anxiety. We do know that inositol may be helpful for fertility and managing symptoms of PCOS, and that the risks and side effects are very minimal. If you think inositol would be a good addition to your routine, talk to your doctor about giving it a try. 

Other ways to manage anxiety

Anxiety can be exhausting and sometimes debilitating to cope with. Whether you have a lot on your plate recently and feel more stressed than usual, or if you’ve been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, it’s important that you prioritize your mental health. If you have been struggling with anxiety and are looking for ways to decrease or manage it, here are some other things you can try:

  • Limit alcohol, caffeine, and excess sugar: These can trigger or worsen feelings of stress and anxiety.

  • Find a daily release: Try to go on a daily walk, meditate, do yoga, or any other activity that will allow you to slow your mind down and get in touch with your body.

  • Prioritize rest: You need extra sleep when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, so make sure you’re allocating enough time for a restful sleep every night. 

  • Pay attention to triggers: Finding out what your triggers are can help you avoid future stressors. If something specific seems to worsen your stress or anxiety, jot it down and brainstorm some ways to avoid or decrease exposure in the future. 

  • Ask for help: You shouldn’t have to battle anxiety alone. Reach out to a friend, therapist, or doctor and find something that works for you. Medication and/or therapy can be a huge help.

Find more resources and information on anxiety disorders

Questions to discuss with your healthcare provider

If you’re interested in adding inositol to your vitamin routine, you may want to discuss with your provider first to make sure it’s the best option for you. The good news is there have been very few observed side effects of inositol supplementation, and it’s been proven to be safe and effective in most cases. Like most dietary supplements, inositol should not be used as a replacement for any of your current medications without consulting a healthcare provider. There are also a few people that inositol may not be right for, including:

  • Those with diabetes or at risk of diabetes: Inositol is an insulin sensitizing agent, so you should consult your doctor about what taking inositol might mean for you

  • Those breastfeeding or pregnant: While it hasn’t been proven to be unsafe, there isn’t much research on supplementation while breastfeeding or with routine use while pregnant, so you may want to wait, or ask your doctor what dosage is considered safe. 

    • If you’re trying to conceive, research shows that inositol supplementation could be a great option for increasing IVF success and benefiting egg health, alongside your prenatal vitamin

Take-aways

  • Inositol is a carbohydrate that has a strong effect on many hormones and neurotransmitters in the body
  • Inositol can be found in fiber-rich foods, citrus fruit, vegetables, nuts, and seeds
  • Supplementing with inositol may have potential benefits, including enhancing insulin sensitivity for those with PCOS, leveling out hormones, and promoting regular ovulation
  • Several small studies have found inositol supplementation to be beneficial for reducing depression, anxiety, hostility, and fatigue
  • A meta-analysis concluded that inositol may not have a significant effect on anxiety, but is helpful for depression
  • More research is still needed to determine inostiol’s effect on anxiety, but we do know that there are very few side effects, and inositol does have many other reproductive health benefits
  • You should consult with your doctor before adding inositol into your vitamin routine, especially if you’re diabetic, pregnant, or breastfeeding

 

Featured Image by Darina Belonogova