Inositol: everything you need to know about this supplement that can help with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a complex endocrine disease that is defined according to the following criteria:
- Clinical or biochemical symptoms of hyperandrogenism or androgen excess with the symptoms that entails (hirsutism, irregular menstrual cycles, acne ...).
- Ultrasound where they can be observed ovarian microfollicles (cysts) or an abnormal size of the ovary itself.
- Altered menstrual cycles either due to their absence (amenorrhea) or their insufficiency (oligomenorrhea).
In addition, a high percentage of women who suffer from this condition have some degree of insulin resistance, which worsens the hormonal and metabolic landscape, even favoring weight gain and body fat. Inositol, we will see, plays a fundamental role here.
At the endocrine level, these women have high levels of androgens such as testosterone and estrogens due to their androgenic conversion. They also have reduced levels of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) which increases the amount of free circulating androgens that in turn worsens insulin resistance that we mentioned before.
This disease affects 5-21% of women of reproductive age, making it a recurring problem that also has no cure.
As we have said before, inositol can play an important role in the insulin system helping to significantly improve the overall picture of this disease in which both high levels of androgens and insulin resistance and overweight are positively fed back.
What is inositol?
Inositol is an organic compound in the polyols category, a type of carbohydrates that is also conferred properties of pseudovitamin (Vitamin B8) although it does not have an essential character because in humans it can be synthesized through a glucose molecule.
In nature there are nine possible isomers (compounds with the same molecular formula but different chemical structure that gives them different properties) of inositol, within which the most abundant is myoinositol. Apart from myoinositol, the other isomer that interests us is D-chiro-inositol.
Its functions include:
- Transduction of insulin signals.
- Regulation and nerve growth.
- Control of intracellular calcium (Ca +) concentrations.
- Regulation of lipid metabolism especially in combination with choline.
What role does inositol play in insulin resistance?
In women with PCOS there is a dysfunction at the level of insulin signaling. In this scenario, inositol, in particular phosphoglycan inositol plays an important role in the insulin signaling cascade regulating, among other things, specific glucose transporters (GLUT4) that allow the entrance of this to the cell.
In this way we began to investigate and theorize about whether the administration of different inositol isomers could help in therapy against this disease.
How to supplement with inositol?
Of the different forms of inositol, D-chiro-inositol is the one that performs the biological activity in the ovaries So supplementing with this form of inositol is valid. If we administer myoinositol, it is transformed (epimerized) into D-chiro-inositol so it can also be valid administration.
In this way there are supplements that combine both forms of this compound, an equally valid option.
In general, for the treatment of PCOS daily doses taken before breakfast of between 200 and 4000 milligrams of myoinositol are used, that is, between 0.2 and 4 grams of myoinositol daily.
If the supplement is presented in soft capsules or in gel format instead of powder, the recommended dose can be reduced by 30% due to increased bioavailability of the substance
When an inositol supplement does not specify the inositol format it contains, it is understood that it is myoinositol.