Pinitol and PCOS
"D-chiro inositol" was the object of much excitement a few years ago in PCOS circles because a study showed it improved ovulation, reduced testosterone levels and insulin resistance.
Pinitol is another form of inositol that is very similar to D-chiro inositol, but less expensive. The chemical name of pinitol is "3-O-methyl- D-chiro-inositol". Pinitol is commercially available and is featured in our online store.
The page introduces you to pinitol and describes its relevance to polycystic ovary syndrome.
D-chiro-inositol, a relative of common inositol (a B vitamin), is found in small concentrations in the human body and in some foods.
It is a compound that has been reported to affect the action of insulin.
There is evidence that the insulin resistance seen in women with PCOS is due in part to a deficiency of D-chiro-inositol or to a defect in its utilization in the tissues.(1,2) If these abnormalities can be reversed by supplementation with D-chiro-inositol, then this compound might be beneficial for women with PCOS.
To test that possibility, 44 obese women with PCOS were randomly assigned to receive, in double-blind fashion, D-chiro-inositol (1,200 mg once a day) or placebo for eight weeks.
Supplementation with D-chiro-inositol resulted in an improvement in insulin resistance and a 55% reduction in testosterone levels compared to the placebo group.
Significantly more women ovulated in the D-chiro-inositol group than in the placebo group (86% vs. 27%). D-chiro-inositol supplementation decreased testosterone levels and improved ovulatory function, presumably by enhancing the action of insulin.(2)
What Is Pinitol?
Pinitol (3-O-methyl- D-chiro-inositol) is an inositol compound with a chemical structure and biochemical actions similar to D-chiro-inositol.
Pinitol is conveniently available as a nutritional supplement and is much less expensive than D-chiro-inositol.
Pinitol occurs naturally in several different foods, including legumes and citrus fruits.
Like D-chiro-inositol, pinitol appears to influence the action of insulin.(3) Moreover, pinitol is probably converted to D-chiro-inositol in the body, as demonstrated by a 14-fold increase in the levels of D-chiro-inositol after administration of pinitol to diabetic patients at a dose of 20 mg per kg of body weight per day for four weeks.(3)
In a double-blind study of patients with type 2 diabetes, administration of 600 mg of pinitol twice a day for three months reduced blood glucose concentration by 19.3%, decreased hemoglobin A1c concentration by 12.4%, and significantly improved insulin resistance.(4)
In a shorter-term double-blind study, administration of pinitol at a dose of 20 mg per kg of body weight per day for four weeks decreased the mean fasting plasma glucose concentration by 5.3%.(5)
Pinitol has not been studied as a treatment for PCOS. However, because an estimated 33% of orally administered pinitol is converted in the body to D-chiro-inositol,(5) and because it appears to have biochemical effects similar to those of D-chiro-inositol, pinitol might be beneficial for women with PCOS.
Safety and Interactions
There are no contraindications for pinitol. No toxicity has been reported.
Due to a lack of long-term safety data, pinitol should be avoided by pregnant women and nursing mothers.
If you are taking anti-depressant drugs, consult with your doctor before taking supplemental pinitol.
How Much Should You Take?
According to two of the studies we cited above, a dose of 1,200 mg of D-chiro inositol daily appeared to be effective.
The effective amount of pinitol isn't entirely clear. Since not all of the pinitol will convert into D-chiro inositol, we can assume a dose of at least 1,200 mg. would be needed for effect.
Where Can You Get It?
Click here for article footnotes.
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