Inositol and choline are two important nutrients that provide a number of health benefits.
Choline and inositol can be found in foods and are also available in supplement form. While they're both crucial for building cell membranes and regulating cellular activity, they also have individually unique roles.
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We'll examine the roles both choline and inositol play in the body, what choline and inositol are good for and other important information about the nutrients.
Health Benefits of Inositol
Inositol is naturally present in many plants and animals and it is also produced in the human body. While it can be found in many different types of isomers, the most common forms are myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol.
Inositol is sometimes referred to as vitamin B8, but it is not actually a vitamin.
What does inositol do for the body? Inositol is often linked with helping promote fertility in people with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
In one October 2019 study in Gynecological Endocrinology, for example, researchers evaluated the effect of two doses of d-chiro-inositol (DCI) in combination with Myo-inositol (MYO) on the oocyte quality (OQ) of people with PCOS undergoing intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
Researchers found that the combination of MYO with high doses of DCI improved oocyte cytoplasm quality in people with PCOS undergoing ICSI.
It's also possible that, specifically, MYO inositol benefits people with PCOS.
Research suggests that inositol supplements may improve menstrual cycle regularity, ovulation and pregnancy rates in people with PCOS. An April 2010 study in Gynecological Endocrinology found that MYO and metformin can help treat menstrual irregularities in people with PCOS.
What's more, there's research to suggest that inositol can help regulate insulin levels, which may be beneficial for those with metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance and diabetes, according to a March 2022 editorial in Open Heart.
Inositol also has brain benefits, and research has found that it affects the processes that make neurotransmitters — including serotonin, a neurotransmitter that impacts mood, per the National Library of Medicine.
Studies have found that inositol supplements can improve symptoms of certain conditions that affect serotonin and the brain, including anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and panic disorder.
In one early July 2001 study in Clinical Psychopharmacology, people with panic disorders that were given 18 grams of inositol daily experienced a reduced number of panic attacks.
How Much Inositol Should You Take?
While inositol supplements are sold as tablets and capsules, there is no recommended daily allowance (RDA) for inositol.
If you're prescribed an inositol supplement, your doctor will discuss proper dosage, whether you're taking MYO inositol for fertility reasons or otherwise.
Choline is an essential nutrient that, like inositol, is present in some foods and available as a dietary supplement, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
While the body does produce small amounts of choline, it is not enough the support our biological needs, which is why we must get choline from outside sources.
Along with many other functions, choline helps the body produce acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter for memory, mood, muscle control, and other brain and nervous system functions.
A choline deficiency is associated with muscle damage, liver damage and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), per the NIH.
Getting enough choline supports liver function and to prevent NAFLD, but more research is needed to further clarify the role of choline in preventing or treating NAFLD, according to the NIH.
Citicoline, or CDP choline, benefits brain function and may help prevent memory loss; it is sometimes prescribed as a supplement to help hamper the development of glaucoma and mild vascular cognitive impairment per February 2014 research in CNS Drugs.
Thew recommended intake of choline for adults ranges from 425 milligrams to 550 milligrams per day. Choline can be found in foods like eggs and other animal protein sources as well as plant-based foods including soybeans, shiitake mushrooms and quinoa.
Choline and Inositol Together
While it's clear choline and inositol perform different functions in the body, they work particularly well as a team.
It is believed that choline and inositol are good for people with PCOS who are trying to get pregnant. The two supplements have functions in the body that are relevant to human reproduction and may be considered for supplementation — especially by people with PCOS, according to CNY Fertility.
If you are considering supplementing with these nutrients for fertility or another reason, speak with your health care provider to better understand when to take inositol and choline and the proper dosages.
- Nutrition in Clinical Practice: A Comprehensive, Evidence-Based Manual for the Practitioner; (2nd Edition) Katz and Friedman
- Pharmacological Reports: Mechanisms and Pharmacology of Diabetic Neuropathy - Experimental and Clinical Studies
- Principles and Practice of Geriatric Psychiatry; Agronin and Maletta
- Journal of the American College of Nutrition: Nutritional Importance of Choline for Brain Development
- Gynecological Endocrinology: "High dose of d-chiro-inositol improves oocyte quality in women with polycystic ovary syndrome undergoing ICSI: a randomized controlled trial"
- Gynecological Endocrinology: "Insulin sensitiser agents alone and in co-treatment with r-FSH for ovulation induction in PCOS women"
- National Library of Medicine: "Serotonin"
- Clinical Psychopharmacology: "Double-blind, controlled, crossover trial of inositol versus fluvoxamine for the treatment of panic disorder"
- NIH: "Choline"
- CNS Drugs: "Neuroprotective Properties of Citicoline: Facts, Doubts and Unresolved Issues"
- CNY Fertility: "Relevance of Inositol and Choline Supplementation for Women with PCOS"
- Open Heart: "Myo-inositol for insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, polycystic ovary syndrome and gestational diabetes"