Inositol, known as vitamin B8, is not a true vitamin at all because the human body has the ability to manufacture small amounts of this compound on its own. Regardless of this fact, inositol is essential for healthy cell membranes and to support messenger chemicals throughout the body. It is also sometimes helpful in relieving nerve damage from various disease processes, such as diabetes. The best way to increase inositol levels in the body is through diet.
Inositol is a water-soluble member of the B-complex. There is a high concentration of this compound in the brain, stomach, kidney, spleen, liver and heart. Inositol has a mild anti-anxiety agent; it maintains healthy hair and controls blood cholesterol levels.
Best Food Sources
The best food sources of inositol can be found in lecithin granules, beef heart, desiccated liver, wheat germ, lecithin oil, liver, brown rice, cereals, citrus fruits, nuts, molasses, green leaf vegetables, whole grain bread and soy flour. Inositol is also found in cereals and vegetables in a form known as phytic acid, which is a combination of inositol and phosphorus. This compound is also a major component of lecithin.
An individual may want to increase their dietary levels of inositol to reduce blood cholesterol levels or to restore healthy hair. When taken with vitamin E, inositol has been shown to relieve nerve damage, which is often the result of diabetes. This compound has also been identified as an anti-anxiety agent, and in treating irritability. It has shown promise in treating schizophrenia. If one of these conditions is of interest to you, consult a health care practitioner about the risks versus benefits of using inositol supplements.
Deficiency or Toxicity
According to the FDA, no specific symptoms of deficiency or toxicity of inositol have been noted. However, when present as phytic acid, it may stop certain minerals in the body from effectively working. Inositol has never shown an effect on vitamins. The recommended daily intake has not been established, primarily because inositol is not truly a vitamin. The RDI would be difficult to assess because of how the body synthesizes it. Daily intake of inositol is estimated to be between 500 and I,000 milligrams.