Vitamin B8 also known as inositol is a water-soluble vitamin that is required in very small amounts in the body. As it is a water-soluble vitamin, it is not stored in the body and excess amounts of it is flushed out with urine. Hence, it becomes all the more important for us to ensure that our diet supplies adequate amount of this vitamin daily. Followed by niacin, our body has the second highest store of inositol.
Symptoms of Vitamin B8 / Inositol Deficiency
Deficiency of vitamin B8 is unlikely. However, a word of caution for coffee lovers—they need to restrict their daily intake to 2 cups as excessive coffee can deplete the vitamin stores. The symptoms resulting from a deficiency of vitamin B8 include:
- skin diseases
- reduced production of RNA and DNA
- insufficient synthesis of glucose from the food digested
- decreased functioning of hormones
- onset of candida albicans
- nausea, vomiting
- muscle ache
- muscle weakness,
- lung infections,
- heart abnormalities,
- elevated levels of cholesterol,
- vision problems,
- hair loss,
- eczema and ataxia.
Various serious complications of vitamin B8 deficiency include metabolic acidosis, organic aciduria, liver steatosis, convulsions, hyper ammonemia, acidocetosis, hypotonia and hyperlactettemia. If vitamin B8 deficiency is not arrested in time and the symptoms are not controlled, one may even go into coma.
Food Sources of Vitamin B8
Inositol is available externally through dietary sources and is even made inside the body by intestinal bacteria. Our body can make its own inositol from glucose with the help of intestinal bacteria. Hence, external sources are of help only in conditions when the body is incapable of making its own vitamin. Sources of vitamin B8 consist of the following:
- whole grains
- egg yolk
- swiss chard
Other sources include the following:
- wheat germ
- all citrus fruits except lemons
- lima beans
Health Benefit of Vitamin B8
- Diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) – Taking a certain form of inositol called myo-inositol along with folic acid during pregnancy seems to reduce the chance of developing diabetes during pregnancy by 60% to 92% in women who are at risk. Lower doses of inositol taken without folic acid don’t seem to work.
- Side effects caused by lithium – Taking inositol by mouth seems to improve psoriasis, a skin condition caused by lithium. But it doesn’t seem to help psoriasis in people not taking lithium. Inositol doesn’t seem to improve other side effects caused by lithium.
- Metabolic syndrome – Taking inositol with or without alpha-lipoic acid seems to improve insulin resistance, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and blood pressure in postmenopausal women with metabolic syndrome.
- Panic disorder – Inositol shows some promise for controlling panic attacks and the fear of public places or open spaces (agoraphobia). One study found that inositol is as effective as a prescription medication. However, larger clinical studies are needed before inositol’s effectiveness for panic attacks can be proven.
- An ovary disorder known as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – Taking particular forms of inositol (D-chiro-inositol or myo-inositol) by mouth seems to lower triglyceride and testosterone levels, modestly decrease blood pressure, and improve the function of the ovaries in overweight or obese women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Myo-inositol may be as effective as the prescription drug metformin. Some research also shows that taking the two forms of inositol together improves ovulation better than taking D-chiro-inositol alone. Also, the combination seems to improve blood pressure, blood sugar, and blood insulin levels better than taking myo-inositol alone.
- A breathing problem in premature babies known as “acute respiratory distress syndrome” – Giving inositol intravenously (by IV) to premature babies with respiratory distress syndrome seems to improve breathing. Also, giving these babies inositol by mouth or intravenously (by IV) seems to decrease the risk of death, the risk of developing a condition that can cause blindness, or the risk of bleeding in the brain.
- Alzheimer’s disease – Taking inositol by mouth doesn’t seem to improve symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Anxiety – Taking inositol by mouth doesn’t seem to improve the severity of anxiety symptoms.
- Autism – Taking inositol by mouth doesn’t seem to improve symptoms of autism.
- Depression – Most research shows that inositol doesn’t improve symptoms of depression. While some early research shows that depressed people receiving inositol for 4 weeks may improve at first, they seem to get worse again after a while. There was also some expectation that inositol might make antidepressant medications called SSRIs work better. But research so far hasn’t shown this to be true.
- Schizophrenia – Taking inositol by mouth doesn’t seem to improve symptoms of schizophrenia.
- Nerve problems caused by diabetes – Taking inositol by mouth doesn’t improve the symptoms of nerve pain caused by diabetes.
Insufficient Evidence for
- Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – Early studies show inositol might not help improve ADHD symptoms.
- Bipolar disorder – Early research in children with bipolar disorder shows that taking inositol with a certain omega-3 fatty acid improves mania and depressive symptoms.
- Diabetes – Early research shows that taking a combination of folic acid and a form of inositol called D-chiro-inositol decreases blood glucose more than taking folic acid by itself in overweight people with type I diabetes.
- Lung cancer – Early research shows that taking inositol does not reverse the growth of pre-cancer cells in people at high risk for lung cancer.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) – There is some evidence that people with OCD who receive inositol by mouth for 6 weeks experience an improvement in OCD symptoms. However, inositol doesn’t seem to improve OCD symptoms in people already being treated with medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – Early research shows that taking inositol by mouth doesn’t improve distress in people with PTSD.
- Pregnancy-associated complication – Taking a certain form of inositol (isomer myo-inositol) plus folic acid by mouth during pregnancy seems to reduce the number of babies weighing more than 8 pounds 13 ounces at birth. However, the combination doesn’t seem to reduce high blood pressure during pregnancy, the risk of preterm delivery, the rate of caesarean section, or the risk of the baby having a certain breathing problem after birth.
- Compulsive hair pulling (trichotillomania) – Taking inositol by mouth doesn’t seem to improve symptoms of compulsive hair pulling.
- Hair growth.
- High cholesterol.
- Problems metabolizing fat.
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia).
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