Inositol is a cyclic 6-carbon compound (with six hydroxy groups) closely related to glucose. Myo-inositol, the nutritionally active form, is a constituent of phosphatidyl-inositol, an important component of phospholipids (which make up cell membranes). It is available in a wide variety of foods and is also synthesized within cells.
Large quantities of inositol are found in the spinal cord, spinal fluid, and brain tissue. Within cell membranes, it works as a secondary messenger precursor.
Inositol promotes the production of lecithin, which aids in the metabolism of fats and helps reduce blood cholesterol. With the help of choline, it protects the heart by helping to prevent the hardening of arteries. Research has also shown that inositol may help to reduce folate-resistant neural tube defects. Therefore, combining inositol with folate should further help to prevent the majority of neural tube defects.
Inositol is water soluble, non-toxic, and found in beans, brown rice, corn, sesame seeds, wheat bran, and other high fiber foods.