Since writing the Honest, Hairy Truth articles, I’ve had a lot of questions and feedback from many of you wanting more information on Inositol and PCOS. For some of those who have tried it, the results have been dramatic, with one woman losing 21 pounds in a month since taking it.
For some of those who have tried it, the results have been dramatic I have to say that my results have not been as dramatic but I have seen a slight improvement in my weight and hirsutism. Could combining Inositol with a good PCOS diet be effective in managing our PCOS symptoms and if Inositol is able to produce some improvements, not matter how big or small, I think it’s worth having a closer look at it. Don’t you?
What is Inositol?
Inositol is a naturally occurring substance that used to be considered as one of the B vitamins. The body is able to produce it on its own, though, so it isn’t considered a vitamin anymore.
Inositol is the common name given to Myo-Inositol. So generally, if you see Inositol supplements, it is Myo-Inositol on the bottle.
This is important because myo-inositol is part of a family of 9 forms of inositol, otherwise known as an “isomer”. This gets a bit technical so bear with me. An isomer has the same technical composition and arrangement of molecules but the placement of the atoms differs.
Huh? Basically, there are nine compounds in the Inositol family that are all basically identical except for one minor change between each. This means that if your body is lacking in one form of Inositol, it can convert one of the other compounds into the one that is lacking.
What does Inositol do?
It seems that Inositol has two jobs really. The first one is that it is important in the insulin receptors of each cell. The receptor is on every cell wall and works as a lock and key mechanism. Insulin needs to fit just right for the receptor to open and let the insulin work its magic on the cell. If the receptor isn’t working very well, your body produces more insulin to compensate, leading to insulin resistance. Inositol helps the receptor work more efficiently so Insulin can bind properly the first time, causing your body to not produce too much insulin.
Its second job involves the Insulin signalling pathway. Now, I’m not a Biochemist but my understanding of inositol’s role in insulin signalling is as follows. As insulin attaches to the cell wall, it sets in a motion a series of changes within the cell. Inositol plays a role in this series of changes and it is important for insulin to be effective within the cell. (1)
Inositol is also involved in stopping insulin’s effect on the cell. In a sense, it helps to flip the off switch.
Right, that’s most of the technical stuff over, I hope.
Inositol and PCOS
Let’s move on to the good stuff… Why we should all be taking Myo-inositol.
I could give you loads of research articles but I’m just going to give you the summarized version of the effects of Inositol on PCOS (2):
- Increased progesterone
- Increased SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin) – Deals with any free testosterone in our blood stream
- Lowered testosterone levels
- Improved insulin sensitivity
- Decreased luteinizing hormone
- Induced weight loss (that sounds good to me)
- As mentioned in my Honest Hairy Truth post, it has also been shown to be effective in managing hirsutism
There is also some good research on how myo-inositol helps with fertility and pregnancy. Inositol has been shown to:
- Restore normal ovulatory activity and fertility in women with PCOS
- Improve egg quality and pregnancy rate in women with failed IVF
- Improve pregnancy rate and lower cancellation rate in women with PCOS
I just want to caution you, I have not found any research on the safety of taking myo-inositol during pregnancy so PLEASE check with your doctor if you do fall pregnant while taking it.
How much and how?
Inositol is available in capsules and powdered form. The research studies were conducted using 4g per day of inositol and combining it with Folic Acid. If you take 4g in capsule form, you’ll land up taking a lot of capsules (I found 500mg capsules so I would need to take 8 a day).
The powdered form is mixed in a glass of water. It has a slightly sweet taste and I can hardly taste it. So, when I started taking Inositol, I started with the Jarrow Formulas Inositol Powder, 227g which is available on Amazon.com
Ovasitol from Theralogix is also a great option. It combines two kinds of inositols – D-chiro-inositol and myo-inositol – in a 40:1 ratio. This is the same ratio that these two inositols are found in the body. There is strong evidence for both D-chiro and myo-inositol and PCOS. So, this is what I now take. You can get Ovasitol (using PRC code 144144) at the best price here.
You may also have heard of Cystofert for PCOS. Cystofert is a similar combination of D-chiro-inositol and Myo-Inositol but it only has 1100mg per tablet, as opposed to the recommended 2g of inositol per dose.
How long for Inositol to Work for PCOS?
We all tend to want results and want them now (I’m exactly the same!) Some women report seeing improvements within a week – weight loss or a reduction in cravings. But, we need to remember that it takes at least 3 months for an egg to be developed in the ovary. So, we need to give Inositol at least 3 months before we can see maximum benefits. So be patient and give it some time. It will be worth the wait!
So, all of the research on Inositol looks promising for women with PCOS. I have been taking Inositol for years and really feel the difference in my cravings when I am not taking it. I’d love to hear about your experiences of Inositol and if it’s helped you with any of your PCOS symptoms. Please leave me a comment below and we can share the inositol love!