Could Inositol Supplements Lower Blood Sugar? The Latest Studies Weigh In.

The compound inositol may be a promising new option for the treatment of high blood sugar in type 2 diabetes. Inositol is already used in some cases to treat conditions related to insulin resistance such as PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), metabolic syndrome, and gestational diabetes, all of which increase the risk of type 2. Studies claim that inositol may significantly reduce blood glucose and HbA1c levels.

Inositol is a compound found in plant and animal cells, and it is sometimes classified as a type of B vitamin, but it’s more accurately a vitamin-like carbohydrate that has many forms, most commonly myo-inositol and d-chiron-inositol. Inositol mimics the effect of insulin, and a 2016 study in the International Journal of Endocrinology found that inositol supplementation, “is an effective and safe strategy for improving glycemic control in T2DM.”

Here we’ll discuss that study as well as other possible uses for inositol supplementation.

Photo: AdobeStock/puhhha
Photo: AdobeStock/puhhha

Inositol Supplementation for Type 2 Diabetes

In a preliminary study, a group of 20 people with diagnosed type 2 diabetes who had consistently suboptimal HbA1c for 3 months or more (between 7.0 and 10.0 percent) were given an oral inositol supplement twice a day for three months. Test subjects continued their other medications as normal.

At the conclusion of the study, participants showed no improvement in blood pressure, triglyceride levels, or body mass index; however, they showed significantly reduced fasting blood glucose (average of 160.9 compared to 192.6) and HbA1c levels (7.7 compared to 8.9), with no reported side effects.

Photo: AdobeStock/kaliantye
Photo: AdobeStock/kaliantye

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Gestational Diabetes

Inositol compounds work with insulin by promoting glycogen synthesis and regulating glucose intake, and taking myo-inositol along with folic acid can reduce the chance of developing gestational diabetes by as much as 60 to 92 percent in at-risk women. Inositol reduces the level of insulin resistance in women who have or are at-risk for gestational diabetes and is correlated with reducing the number of babies greater than 8 pounds, 13 ounces at birth.

Photo: AdobeStock/greenazya
Photo: AdobeStock/greenazya

PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)

PCOS is present in up to 10 percent of women of reproductive age and involves overproduction of androgen testosterone, which causes menstrual abnormalities and enlarged ovaries. PCOS raises the risk of infertility and pregnancy complications as well as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Women with PCOS have insulin resistance that may be due to a deficiency of d-chiro-inositol. A study involving 22 women with PCOS found that oral intake of d-chiro-inositol resulted in increased insulin action as well as increased ovulation as compared to the placebo group (also 22 women). The study also concluded that d-chiro-inositol supplementation can improve ovulatory function.

Photo: AdobeStock/digitalskillet1
Photo: AdobeStock/digitalskillet1

Metabolic syndrome and panic disorder

There is some evidence of inositol improving insulin resistance as well as cholesterol and triglyceride levels in those with metabolic syndrome, and it may also help relieve panic attacks and fear of public places or open spaces, but more reliable clinical research is needed to draw strong conclusions.

Before you supplement…

There is not extensive research available on inositol supplementation, and supplementation should only be considered with a doctor’s recommendation. While inositol supplementation does show promise, studies have been few and small.

Also, because supplements are regulated differently than medication in the United States, they aren’t required to prove that they are safe or that their claims are true before being put on the market. It is essential that consumers consult with a doctor before trying supplements to make sure that they are safe and won’t negatively interact with other medications or health conditions.

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