What is inositol, and why are there so many different names for it? Learn more about this naturally occurring carbohydrate, and why it may be helpful for women with PCOS.

 

By OBGYN and fertility expert Dr. Kenosha Gleaton

Did you know that metabolic syndrome, depression, diabetes, and PCOS are all tied to the same supplement? Inositol is a member of the vitamin B complex group and is found in foods such as fruits, beans, whole grains, and seeds, as well as in supplements. Inositol impacts neurotransmitters in the body, has been shown to improve insulin function, and might even improve fertilization rates. 

What is inositol?

Inositol is a naturally occurring, vitamin-like carbohydrate that’s found in your body. It’s most abundant in the brain and tissues, and has a large effect on hormones and other  neurotransmitters. 

Inositol is frequently used for metabolic syndrome and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), as well as other medical and mental conditions. There are many forms of inositol, but the two most common are myo-inositol (MI) and D-chiro-inositol (DCI). 

Myo-Inositol and D-Chiro Inositol

Is inositol the same as myo-inositol?

There are actually nine different types, or isomers, of inositol. The main difference between isomers of inositol is in the function of the various compounds. 

Generally, the term inositol is used to refer to the most bioavailable type, myo-inositol (MI). MI is often recommended to people with PCOS, because many are often insulin resistant and myo-inositol may improve insulin sensitivity and reduce insulin levels.

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What is the best form of inositol?

There really isn’t a “best” form of inositol, just different functions. The real question you should be asking is how you want inositol to interact with your hormones, and what ratio will be most effective for you.

What is the difference between Myo-inositol (MI) and D-chiro inositol (DCI)?

MI and DCI both act as messengers in the body, but they carry out two different functions. MI helps with activation and use of substances and hormones, whereas DCI is involved in storage and synthesis. Research shows that for most treatments, a mix of DCI and MI works most effectively. In fact, every organ has a certain MI/DCI ratio related to its function. 

The right inositol formula

Each organ has a specific MI/DCI ratio related to its function. In the ovary, MI enhances the action of FSH, via anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH), and DCI is responsible for an excess production of insulin-dependent testosterone. According to scientists, MI has been found in follicular fluid and appears to improve oocyte and embryo quality.

A study focused on PCOS found that when administered alone, DCI can have a negative impact on ovarian cell quality. However, with a 40:1 ratio between MI/DCI administered together, plasma concentrations are mimicked and PCOS is counteracted at both systemic and ovarian levels. However a Chochrane review warns there aren’t yet enough quality studies on this to prove inositol improves pregnancy rates or live birth for patients with PCOS.  

Take-aways

  • Inositol may be useful for PCOS, IVF, and more.
  • Inositol is a member of the vitamin B complex group and a naturally occurring carbohydrate.
  • There are nine different isomers of inositol; they are mostly differentiated by their function in the body.
  • A ratio of 40:1 of MI/DCI has been found to be the most effective formula for PCOS.

 

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Featured Image by Karolina Grabowska