What is Inositol?

There are actually many types of inositols but these are the most notable: Myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol. Inositol is sometimes referred to as vitamin B8, but it is not a vitamin. Inositols are a type of sugar that helps our body regulate glucose and insulin. While both compounds have been shown to improve the management of PCOS symptoms, they both play different roles in the human body. D-chiro-inositol is involved in insulin-mediated androgen synthesis in the ovaries while myo-inositol increases glucose absorption and helps with signaling for follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). 

It is theorized that the imbalance of these two compounds in the ovaries may contribute to the pathogenesis of PCOS. The imbalance of these compounds may be due to genetics. Therefore, increasing intake of these two compounds may help glucose uptake, insulin levels, and FSH signaling. 

How does inositol affect the management of PCOS?

Because inositol has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity, improve egg quality, reduce androgen synthesis, decrease inflammation, and regulate menstrual cycles, it can be a helpful tool for managing PCOS and its related symptoms.

A research study published in 2020 found that myo-inositol helped with AMPK activation and GLUT-4 receptors. This is important because the only way glucose can be transported into cells to be used for energy is by attaching it to a GLUT-4 receptor. This research highlights the potential cellular mechanisms of myo-inositol, leading researchers to support the intake of dietary inositols through food and supplements for PCOS management. 

Metformin VS Inositol

Metformin is a common medication prescribed to individuals with metabolic conditions and helps lower blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity. Individuals with PCOS and Type 2 Diabetes are often prescribed metformin for its effect on lowering insulin levels. This medication works similarly to myo-inositol, leading researchers to compare the two for PCOS management.

Metformin has been shown to increase gastrointestinal discomfort, nausea, reduce appetite, and other unwanted side effects. Because of this, patients prescribed metformin are less likely to adhere to their medication. On the other hand, myo-inositol has reported few side effects, making it a sustainable option for those with PCOS.

Research has shown myo-inositol and metformin have similar effects on improving insulin sensitivity making them both a great option. It is important to discuss both options with your doctor before switching medications or adding a new supplement to your routine. 

Food Sources of Inositol

The great news about inositols is that we already consume some through our diet. The best food sources of inositol are: 

  1. Beans
  2. Peas
  3. Brown Rice
  4. Wheat Bran
  5. Nuts
  6. Cantaloupe
  7. Bananas
  8. Raisins
  9. Cabbage
  10. Liver

Many of these foods provide additional benefits like vitamins, minerals, and fiber that support your metabolic health with PCOS. Many individuals with PCOS have been given incorrect nutrition advice to eliminate carbs. If you look at the list of foods that provide the most inositols, you’ll see many of these foods are rich in carbs. Individuals with PCOS should not fear carbs and including more whole food sources of carbohydrates can support the management of your PCOS.

Supplementation of Inositol for PCOS

While food has naturally occurring sources of inositol, the amount found in food cannot make a significant impact on your glucose and insulin levels. Research has shown individuals with PCOS may need anywhere from 2-4 g/day, an amount that can be achieved with daily supplementation. It is best absorbed and utilized when split into two doses, taking half of your daily dose with breakfast and the second dose with dinner. As always, please discuss this supplement with your healthcare team to make sure it’s the right fit for you. 

Which inositol supplement for PCOS is best?

There are many inositol supplements on the market. It is important to obtain an inositol supplement that has the correct ratio of myo-inositol with d-chiro-inositol. Theralogix has one of the most reputable inositol supplements on the market with a 40:1 ratio of myo-inositol to d-chiro-inositol. This ratio is important because it’s the ratio that naturally exists in the human body. 

How do I know if taking inositol is right for me?

If you are experiencing PCOS symptoms, irregular periods, high androgens, infertility, and signs of insulin resistance like strong carb cravings or chronic fatigue, reach out to your doctor or dietitian to help you decide if an inositol supplement, like Ovasitol, is a good fit for you.

Reach out to Katie and learn more about the 1:1 Peace with PCOS Academy here!

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