While it may technically fall under the category of pseudovitamins, the necessity of inositol is not to be underestimated. For those on the path to better health, the following article contains all you need to know about this important nutrient that affects a wide range of biological activities that support health and well-being.
What is Vitamin B8?
Also called vitamin B8, inositol has a place among the B vitamin complex although its role as an essential vitamin is disputed. This is because the body is capable of creating its own supplies of this vital nutrient through bacterial action in the intestines.
Inositol is found in every cell of the body, but the largest quantities can be found in the heart and brain as well as the membranes of the eye. Inositol plays an important role as a fat emulsifier and encourages the fatty build up to be broken down and put to use. This has raised an enthusiastic reaction from the weight-watchers community.
What Does Vitamin B8 Do?
Inositol plays a vital supporting role in the production and regulation of neurotransmitters that relay messages from the brain to nerves across the body. Dopamine, serotonin, and many other brain chemicals are required for cognitive functions, muscular activity and every other biological process from digestion to breathing.
Inositol functions as a secondary messenger that supports the vital communication of the brain through the central nervous system via these neurotransmitters. Most notably, inositol has a soothing effect which calms the nerves and decreases agitation.
It has been found that those with decreased amounts of inositol are at a greater risk of depression and other mental conditions. As we will see further in this reading, inositol shows great potential in countering the effects of anxiety and depression.1
Benefits of Inositol in the Body
Improved Serotonin Functions
Inositol facilitates the proper function of the neurotransmitters serotonin and acetylcholine. It is also an important part of the nerves and receptors themselves. It is not enough to have these brain chemicals in plentiful supply. If the networks and functional components are not present and operative, vital communications can still be hampered.
To get a better idea of the critical role inositol plays in the body, just consider all the processes affected by serotonin. Let’s begin in the brain where the vast majority of brain cells react to serotonin either directly or as a secondary reaction. These brain cells regulate moods, appetite, sleep, stored information, body temperatures, and even interactions with other people and the environment.2
In the rest of the body, serotonin ensures that the cardiovascular system is functioning properly and also improves muscle control, motor skills, and certain aspects of the endocrine system. After pregnancy, serotonin ensures there will be enough milk produced to support the child’s early life.
Behind the proper function of serotonin in all these capacities is an important inositol compound playing a supporting an essential role.3
Treatment for Anxieties and Panic Disorder
Conditions of the mind plague every faction of modern society. No one is safe from the stress, pressure, and demands in an average lifestyle. While stress, fear, and aversion are all natural ways we deal with our environment, they are also signs that something is not right. If left unchecked, these conditions can escalate to more serious conditions like anxieties as well as obsessive-compulsive and panic disorders.
Most medications that treat these conditions work to improve the levels of brain chemicals in operation. One example is fluvoxamine, which stops serotonin from becoming disassembled when its work is done. This allows greater amounts of this neurochemical to be present at any one time. Inositol was found to be as effective as this common medication in addressing conditions of OCD, panic disorders and anxieties and presented fewer adverse side effects.4,5
Depression is often confused with bipolar disorder but there are some important differences. Unlike depression, bipolar disorder is characterized by lapses of mania. During a manic episode, an individual may experience a mood swing from being distraught to unusually upbeat and positive.
In conditions like this, antidepressant-like fluvoxamine increases serotonin levels. On the other hand, inositol functions more like a mood stabilizer by preventing serotonin receptors from becoming overexcited or insufficiently activated. Studies have shown that inositol has potential in being used as an add-on treatment to address the depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder.6
Stacking With Choline and Inositol
Inositol works closely with choline, another vitamin-like compound, to provide the body with a special fatty acid called lecithin. Lecithin is a part of all healthy membranes of the human body including hair, heart, and brain cells as well as proper metabolization and weight management.
Inositol and choline will often be stacked together for a number of benefits for physical and mental performance.
Healthy levels of choline and inositol also important to memory skills and learning and the growth and development of the brain and its various structures. While choline has a positive impact on learning and memory centers of the brain, inositol soothes and relaxes the brain and central nervous system. This allows for increased cognitive function, reduced impulsiveness, better focus, and improved mood.7
Improved Memory and Neuroprotection
Choline has been studied for its important support to a sharper and more functional memory. Additionally, it has the potential to improve conditions of dementia as well as age-related memory loss.8
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When combined, these two nutrients help to construct and maintain healthy myelin sheaths that insulate nerve endings and improve their longevity and function. Both of these actions can lead to a longer lasting cognitive capacity.9
Inositol has been found to affect weight loss by breaking up fatty acids in the liver, thus facilitating their removal. The production of lecithin from the combination of choline and inositol also benefits weight loss efforts through lipotropic function. This can help accelerate the metabolism of fat stores even while sleeping.10
Risks and Precautions
Medical studies have declared inositol possibly safe when ingested by the healthy adult. However, it has been associated with certain side effects including nausea, stomach distress, and headaches. Below are some important considerations for inositol use.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Supplementation during pregnancy is possibly safe and sometimes inositol is administered to newborns to address respiratory issues. Not enough is known to determine the safety of supplementation while breastfeeding. As always, discuss any plans to supplement with a qualified doctor.
There is a reason to believe that inositol could make a bipolar condition worse rather than better. If you are suffering any mental condition it is better to seek professional advice before beginning any treatment plan.
Inositol has been found to lower blood sugar levels. This can be problematic with certain diabetic conditions. If you are diabetic, discuss the risks and benefits of inositol supplementation with your doctor.11
Final Notes on Inositol
Getting this healthy nutrient can lead to a balanced mind and improved demeanor. If you think this could be right for you, try introducing more inositol into your diet through natural sources. Organ meats, poultry, cantaloupes, beans nuts, and seeds are all good sources of inositol.
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