The Wholesome Journal

3 Things Inositol Can Do for Women’s Health

Living in a female body can be a roller coaster of health challenges. There are myriad hormonal changes that women experience in their lifetime, and dysfunction of these hormones can result in medical problems that a woman can struggle with for her whole life.

You name it, we got it: fibroids, endometriosis, PCOS, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and more. Each of these conditions is tied to our very sensitive hormonal health, and each aggravates our health even more once it presents. It can seem, for some of us, like we never had a chance and that we’re destined to live in bodies wracked with disease and dysfunction.

Fortunately, that’s not the case for most of us. Overcoming our genetic and environmental predispositions toward certain hormonal health problems doesn’t have to be a pipe dream for most women. There are steps each of us can take to better our health by supporting our beautifully complicated biology and helping our bodies to thrive.

Today we’ll discuss how one supportive nutrient can have a profound impact on hormone-related health and wellness for many, many women. May I introduce you all to our good friend, Inositol?

You may never have heard of Inositol, or you may be old friends, but either way we’re betting we can tell you something new about this all-important micronutrient.

The Basics

Firstly, let’s cover what it is and where it comes from. Inositol is a bioactive molecule that is present in the wall of almost every cell in the human body (and in plants and animals as well). Inositol used to be called Vitamin B8, but since it was discovered that our bodies can produce it endogenously (we can make it inside our bodies), it could no longer be called a vitamin, since all vitamins must be taken in from outside sources. Now, it’s known as inositol.

However, just because our bodies can make it, doesn’t necessarily mean that they make enough of it, and just because it’s found in most foods doesn’t mean that it’s available in high-enough quantities to provide sufficient amounts if your body doesn’t make enough to meet your needs.

To put it simply, inositol is one of those rarely-discussed, highly-important molecules that help our bodies to function efficiently on a microscopic level…and it can have big impacts. Let’s take a peek at what inositol can do for the female body.

1. Supports Healthy Blood Glucose Levels

This may be the biggest benefit of all, since it impacts pretty much all body systems. Adequate inositol levels can help to support healthy blood glucose levels in some women by improving insulin sensitivity.1-5 Insulin is the hormone that carries glucose out of the bloodstream and into the cell where the body can use it for energy. Too much glucose in the blood, and not enough in the cells, leads to vascular damage and low energy; this is what we see in diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which cells throughout the body stop responding as easily to the hormone insulin, meaning they don’t let the insulin carry the glucose into the cell where it’s needed. This leads to high insulin levels, high blood glucose levels, and low cell energy. Inositol has the wonderful ability to help cells recognize insulin more easily, thus supporting the body’s natural ability to take glucose out of the blood and into the cell where it can be used.1-5 We’re not saying that if you eat a diet high in inositol that you’ll be able to eat what you want or stop taking your diabetes medications, but trying to get more inositol in your diet may be worth a try.

2. Supports Healthy Fertility

Unfortunately, this is not true for all women, but it is true for a large number of us. If you struggle with fertility and your doctor has told you that it may be related to overweight/obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, or PCOS, then getting plenty of inositol every day may really support your fertility and improve your chances of conceiving.6-11 This is because, just as inositol is integral to healthy hormone regulation in your blood glucose control mechanisms, it is also integral in your reproductive hormone systems. In fact, an inadequate amount of inositol in the body has been linked with issues such as PCOS, infertility, and metabolic syndrome. That’s not to say that low inositol levels cause these diseases, but it does show that it plays an important part in metabolic and hormonal health

3. Supports Heart Health

It’s no secret that blood glucose control and cardiovascular health are buddies, so getting plenty of inositol can be a great way to support the health of your heart and blood vessels.12-14 Also, studies show that inositol can help to control blood lipid levels in women with PCOS, a common health problem in women who suffer with this condition.12 Poorly controlled blood lipid levels can lead to long-term cardiovascular diseases that are devastating and potentially deadly, such as heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure. Women in menopause are also particularly susceptible to heart disease as their hormonal profile changes. If you think your heart health needs a boost, load up on inositol and help your body to keep those vessels clean and clear!

So, there you have it, inositols may be just the thing for you! But wait, where do I get them? Foods that are high in inositol tend to be plant based, and some of the best sources include cantaloupe, beans, citrus, brown rice, and wheat bran. Also, we have a whole blog post about how to eat a high inositol diet that you can check out here!

In parting, remember that eating healthy, whole foods, and lots of plants foods, is one of the simplest, safest, and most effective things we can do to promote good health in our bodies. As with every preventative/restorative measure though, sometimes these changes alone are not enough to help our bodies function the way we want or need them to. If you are struggling with health problems, please contact your doctor or other healthcare provider such a Naturopathic Doctor, Dietitian, or Mental Health Professional to see if they can offer appropriate guidance and care. We at Wholesome Story believe that healthy communities require community effort, so we advise you to keep your healthcare community aware and involved in your journey as you pursue better health.     

 

Sources:

  1. Santamaria A, Fachinetti F, Neri I, et al. Myo-inositol may prevent gestational diabetes onset in overweight women: A randomized, controlled trial. The journal of maternal-fetal & neonatal medicine : the official journal of the European Association of Perinatal Medicine, the Federation of Asia and Oceania Perinatal Societies, the International Society of Perinatal Obstetricians. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26698911/. Published December 23, 2015. Accessed November 30, 2021.
  2. Pintaudi B, Di Vieste G, Bonomo M. The effectiveness of myo-inositol and D-chiro ... - hindawi. Hindawi. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ije/2016/9132052/. Published October 11, 2016. Accessed December 2, 2021.
  3. Michell RH. Do inositol supplements enhance phosphatidylinositol supply and thus support endoplasmic reticulum function?: British Journal of Nutrition. Cambridge Core. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/do-inositol-supplements-enhance-phosphatidylinositol-supply-and-thus-support-endoplasmic-reticulum-function/5B82B21F9BE2C05937D5F776919C6870. Published June 3, 2018. Accessed November 30, 2021.
  4. Santamaria A, Giordano D, Corrado F, et al. One-year effects of myo-inositol supplementation in postmenopausal women with metabolic syndrome. Climacteric : the journal of the International Menopause Society. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22192068/. Published 2012. Accessed December 2, 2021.
  5. Benelli E, Del Ghianda S, Di Cosmo C, Tonacchera M. A combined therapy with myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol improves endocrine parameters and insulin resistance in PCOS young overweight women. International Journal of Endocrinology. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ije/2016/3204083/. Published July 14, 2016. Accessed December 1, 2021.
  6. Caprio F, D'Eufemia MD, Trotta C, et al. Myo-inositol therapy for poor-responders during IVF: A prospective controlled observational trial. Journal of ovarian research. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4464995/. Published June 12, 2015. Accessed November 30, 2021.
  7. Artini PG;Di Berardino OM;Papini F;Genazzani AD;Simi G;Ruggiero M;Cela V; Endocrine and clinical effects of myo-inositol administration in polycystic ovary syndrome. A randomized study. Gynecological endocrinology: the official journal of the International Society of Gynecological Endocrinology. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23336594/. Published 2013. Accessed January 13, 2022.
  8. Beemster P, Groenen P, Steegers-Theunissen R. Involvement of Inositol in Reproduction. Academic.oup.com. https://academic.oup.com/nutritionreviews/article/60/3/80/1812281?login=true. Published March 2002. Accessed November 30, 2021.
  9. Kalra B, Kalra S, Sharma JB. The inositols and polycystic ovary syndrome. Indian journal of endocrinology and metabolism. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5040057/. Published 2016. Accessed December 1, 2021.
  10. Gerli S, Papaleo E, Ferrari A, Di Renzo GC. Randomized, double blind placebo ... - europeanreview.org. European Review. https://europeanreview.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/458.pdf. Published 2007. Accessed January 13, 2022.
  11. Bahadur A, Arora H, Ravi AK, et al. Comparison of clinical, metabolic and hormonal effects of metformin versus combined therapy of metformin with myoinositol plus D-chiro-inositol in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): A randomized controlled trial. Cureus. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8263823/. Published June 7, 2021. Accessed January 13, 2022.
  12. Minozzi M, Nordio M, Pajalich R. The combined therapy myo-inositol plus D-chiro-inositol, in a physiological ratio, reduces the cardiovascular risk by improving the lipid profile in PCOS patients. European Review. https://www.europeanreview.org/article/3314. Published March 18, 2013. Accessed January 14, 2022.
  13. Tabrizi R, Ostadmohammadi V, Lankarani KB, et al. The effects of inositol supplementation on lipid profiles among patients with metabolic diseases: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Lipids in Health and Disease. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s12944-018-0779-4. Published May 24, 2018. Accessed December 2, 2021.
  14. Santamaria A, Giordano D, Corrado F, et al. One-year effects of myo-inositol supplementation in postmenopausal women with metabolic syndrome. Climacteric : the journal of the International Menopause Society. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22192068/. Published 2012. Accessed December 2, 2021.

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