Also known as Inositol, vitamin B8 is a water-soluble vitamin-like structure. It is not essentially a vitamin B. In fact, it is a pseudovitamin that is naturally found in plants, animals, and even the human body. Our body naturally produces a few grams of inositol every day in the heart, liver, and skeletal muscles.
Since it is water-soluble in nature, it can’t stay long in the body and flushes out with urine. Hence, it is absolutely safe if our diet provides an excessive amount of this kind of vitamin daily.
The chemical structure of inositol is similar to glucose as its chemical formula is the same as glucose. Although vitamin B8 consists of nine isomers, the only active form is myo-inositol.
Inositol, as a carbocyclic sugar, is abundant in the brain, body cells, and tissues. It has a sweet taste which is far less than the actual sugar – sucrose. Inositol exists along with structural lipids and its several phosphates (PI and PPI). Inositol along with its phosphates is richly found in many fruits like oranges and cantaloupe.
To understand the history of inositol, it is imperative to understand that “inositol” is a Greek word, derived from “inos” which means “muscles”. This pseudovitamin was originally discovered by a German physician – Johannes Joseph Scherer in 1850. He found it in a muscle tissue which was referred to as a “muscle sugar”. Initially, in the 1940s, it was regarded as a vitamin B, but soon it lost this status considering that it is not integrally a vitamin.
Nonetheless, it has several body functions, making it an essential nutrient for all individuals.
- Helps in regulating mood and nerve signals
- Helps regulating liver and brain health, weight loss
- Helps in conditions, like PCOS insulin sensitivity and fertility
Although the deficiency of vitamin B8 is rare, it is still possible for it to occur, especially among caffeine addicts whose daily consumption of coffee is more than 2 cups. The excessive intake of coffee depletes vitamin B8 present in your body.
Another major cause of the vitamin B8 deficiency is the body’s inability to absorb the nutrient properly. As we get older, our body is unable to sufficiently absorb vitamin B8. Some intestinal diseases also decrease our body’s potential to absorb vitamin B8.
The excessive use of antibiotics can be harmful as it imbalances the production of vitamin B8. Our body needs helpful bacteria, generally located in our intestines, to function properly. However, the antibiotics can easily kill these good bacteria, consequently hampering our body’s ability to absorb vitamin B8 from various food items.
Vitamin B8 deficiency causes multiple complications like metabolic acidosis, organic aciduria, convulsions, hyper ammonemia, acidocetosis, hypotonia, liver steatosis, and hyperlactettemia.
There are a number of life-threatening symptoms that may indicate the deficiency of vitamin B8 in your body. Those symptoms include skin diseases, poor functioning of hormones, low production of RNA and DNA, and an insufficient synthesis of glucose.
Some apparent symptoms include the muscle ache, vomiting, lethargy, nausea, hallucination, depression, insomnia, weakness, lung infection, hypotonia, irritation, constipation, vision problems, hair loss, ataxia, increased levels of cholesterol, and eczema.
If vitamin B8 deficiency and its symptoms are not cured immediately, the sufferer may go into a coma. Thus, as soon as you suspect lower levels of vitamin B8 through these symptoms, you must consult a doctor.
One of the main functions of inositol is the transportation of fats and their break down. This is particularly important in the areas of your brain and heart where the accumulation of fat is harmful to your health.
Inositol also plays a critical role in the maintenance of the mental health and the cognitive function. It acts as a neurotransmitter which helps support the nervous system. The other types of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, acetylcholine, and GABA need this neurotransmitter to convey messages to the brain.
Vitamin B8 also promotes the health of brain cells which help support the memory and improve concentration level. This is how our overall cognitive activity functions efficiently. In order to ensure that your brain is performing well, it is significant for vitamin B8 to be present in your body.
Vitamin B8 is a very important part of our biological makeup that helps maintain the overall human health. Its imbalance, especially in the nervous system, potentially causes nerve-related issues such as depression and anxiety. It also helps treat mental conditions like panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder by balancing chemicals that are present in our body.
Inositol also enables the insulin to work better in our body. It is effective for pregnant women who are suffering from diabetes. Vitamin B8 is also favored by those who want to maintain a healthy body weight. It regulates metabolism and inhibits the growth of fats in the body, resulting in weight loss.
Vitamin B8 is a member of the vitamin B complex group which has long been regarded as a natural stress reliever. Before anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications became widely popular, people consumed vitamin B supplements to soothe their nerves, relieving themselves from stress and anxiety.
Human beings have been using vitamin B since ancient times as it is naturally found in a wide range of food items. When there is a deficiency of vitamin B8 in your body, you can eat vitamin B8-based foods. They will help increase vitamin B8 levels in your body, keeping common maladies, such as anemia, eczema, memory loss, and other harmful diseases at bay.
Low levels of vitamin B8 often lead to feelings of stress and anxiety, OCD symptoms, and symptoms of depression. However, a vitamin B8 supplement treats vitamin B8 deficiency, promoting a healthy life with a regular use.
Vitamin B8 deficient people often have poor physical health – poor vision, hair loss, dry, rough skin. They may also experience psychological problems like depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia, heart abnormalities, and poor cognitive function. To maintain a healthy physical and mental state, it is important to have high levels of vitamin B8 in your body.
1. Reduces The Symptoms Of Anxiety
Inositol lowers anxiety symptoms by improving the performance of GABA receptors and serotonin. GABA receptors are responsible for keeping you relaxed. However, tension and stress can deplete their levels. Inositol works phenomenally as a substitute to GABA receptors.
As a substitute, it replaces the non-functional GABA receptors and plays the same role as of GABA receptors. This way, people with low levels of GABA and serotonin stay calm and relaxed after the consumption of inositol supplements.
To effectively treat anxiety, inositol dosage differs with time. Initially, a dosage of 2000 mg twice a day is fine. With every passing week, you can increase the dosage by 1000 mg until the dosage reaches 18000 mg.
2. Promotes Sleep
Stress and depression can disrupt our sleeping pattern. You are unable to rest fully which results in tiredness the next day. This, consequently, adversely affects your concentration span.
The reason why we are unable to sleep well is due to low levels of serotonin. Inositol supplements ensure that your serotonin levels are high enough to keep you relaxed so that you can sleep peacefully.
The supplements also make sure that the GABA receptors function well. During stress-filled times, GABA receptors perform poorly, thereby, imparting insomnia. However, inositol maintains the proper functioning of GABA receptors even when you are anxious.
3. Proper Hair Growth
Low levels of inositol affect your hair too. There could be two major reasons for the depletion of inositol in your body. Firstly, it could be possible that your diet doesn’t consist of inositol at all. Secondly, you consume tea, coffee, and alcohol in an excessive amount which reduces inositol levels.
These reasons can give rise to hair-related issues like hair loss, graying of hair etc. Taking inositol powder supplements can be beneficial for your hair growth.
4. Provides relief From PCOS
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a result of hormonal imbalance which is typically found among women. PCOS leads to an increase in the production of male hormones among women. This causes women to gain excessive weight. They also suffer from other health problems like infertility, ovarian cysts, and irregular menstrual cycles.
The intake of inositol shows a potential relief from this harmful condition by promoting ovulation and weight loss.
Note: several doctors prescribe D-chiro-inositol as an ideal treatment for PCOS.
5. Improves Cognitive Function
Vitamin B8 supplements improve the effectiveness of neurotransmitters like GABA, serotonin, and dopamine. These neurotransmitters help boost the functioning of the brain. This way, your brain becomes more optimized and thereby, you become more alert, focused, and motivated. Also, it boosts your concentration and improves the memory.
All the neurotransmitters require inositol to transmit messages to the brain. Thus, it’s important for the communication to occur between brain cells. As a result, there is a significant impact on your mood and energy.
6. OCD Treatment
OCD which stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorders is a psychological disorder which occurs due to lower levels of serotonin. Inositol converts into two neurotransmitter chemicals into the brain that stimulates serotonin levels.
A study conducted on OCD patients concluded that supplementing them with inositol eventually reduced OCD and depression levels.
Although doctors prescribe inositol for the treatment of OCD, a variation known as cholin inositol is also available for OCD treatment. However, it should only be used under a qualified doctor.
People with OCD should never consume caffeine as it decreases inositol levels, hampering the brain activity.
7. Food Sources of Inositol
You can elevate the levels of inositol by consuming vitamin B8-based foods. The best food sources for that are fruits, green leafy vegetables, beef, rice, soybeans, grains, cereal, and nuts.
Fresh vegetables and fruits contain more inositol as compared to canned, salt-free products. Green vegetables are not only packed with vitamin B8 but are also full of other vitamins and minerals. They are also able to prevent chronic health diseases like cancer, diabetes, strokes, and hypertension.
Inositol is high in cantaloupe and citrus fruits like oranges and grapes. In grains, vitamin B8 is rich in oats and whole grains. You may also find vitamin B8 in the fresh liver and desiccated liver. However, there is a very little amount of inositol in dairy products such as milk and yogurt.
Although hearts, livers, and brains contain the most amount of inositol, eating them may come with some drawbacks. If the meat is not grass-fed or chemical free, it may cause health issues. Also, if the animal is raised with excessive amounts of steroids, antibiotics, pesticides, and herbicides, it would be difficult for inositol to properly work in your body. Hence, make sure that you choose grass-fed and toxic-free meat.
Instead of meat, you can opt for eggs and fish as they are also an excellent source of vitamin B8. However, whites of eggs contain compounds that negate some of the inositol content. Otherwise, it is a good source of vitamin B8.
Inositol supplements are safe for most adults when they take them by mouth. However, you may suffer from nausea, stomach pain, lethargy, headache, and dizziness. But these side-effects disappear after the continuous use of vitamin B8 supplements.
In the case of children, who are 5-12 years old, vitamin B8 is also safe when consumed by mouth for a short period of time. Vitamin B8 supplements are also possibly safe when used in the hospital for premature infants with problems like acute respiratory distress syndrome.
Pregnant women or women who breastfeed may also orally take vitamin B8 supplements. To stay on the safe side, it is better to consult your doctors first.
Consuming vitamin B8 supplements is a secure way to make most of the nutrient. If you end up consuming extra amounts of vitamin B8 supplements, they will create no health issues. The supplements will simply expel through urination with no side-effects.
- A Combined Therapy with Myo-Inositol and D-Chiro-Inositol Improves Endocrine Parameters and Insulin Resistance in PCOS Young Overweight Women
- Inositol as putative integrative treatment for PCOS.
- A meta-analysis of inositol for depression and anxiety disorders
- Management of women with PCOS using myo-inositol and folic acid. New clinical data and review of the literature.
- Myo-inositol effects in women with PCOS: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials
- The Effectiveness of Myo-Inositol and D-Chiro Inositol Treatment in Type 2 Diabetes
- Inositol Treatment and ART Outcomes in Women with PCOS
- Controlled trials of inositol in psychiatry.
- Effects of Inositol(s) in Women with PCOS: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials