Another B complex factor that has an unclear status as a B vitamin is the compound called inositol. While the specifics of this vitamin's action in the human body remains a mystery, experiments conducted on animals have resulted in the identification of this compound as a necessary factor for the normal growth and survival of organisms. Large amounts of the compound inositol can be found in the skeletal and heart muscles, in organs like the lungs, liver and brain, in blood, in milk and related dairy products, in urine and in eggs. The actual metabolic role of the compound inositol in these tissues and the other types of tissues is still a mystery.
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The probability of practical applications of the inositol is indicated by the results obtained from some clinical research carried out on the functioning of inositol in the human body. In addition, a lot of animal experiments have shown that raising the dietary levels of inositol can help in the prevention of the decrease in motor nerve conduction resulting from degeneration in the nerve insulation as a symptom of diseases such as diabetes. A similar effect is also seen during the use of supplements of inositol as part of the dietary intake in humans who are confirmed diabetics. As a general rule, the nerve conduction is generally better the more inositol present in the diet - usually a maximum of 1400 mg per person daily. Nerve conduction is the lowest whenever people consume a diet that is deficient in levels of inositol. If the diet was deficient in the vitamin, then the consumption of a diet considered sufficient in inositol resulted in improved nerve conduction, this improvement did not match the improvement seen in patients on a supplemented diet of inositol.
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The potential of using supplements of inositol against certain forms of cancer affected tissues has also been acknowledged by clinical researchers. During one animal test, the use of intravenous injections of inositol led to the inhibition of tumor growth in laboratory mice. The dosage of the inositol used in the injections determined the degree of inhibition, if the dose was high than the inhibitive effect was greater and vice versa. A human experiment conducted by one doctor was to give high doses of inositol - at doses of 3 to 4 grams a day - to people affected by advanced cases of cancer in the genitourinary tract. This beneficial effect apparently failed to be evident in at least seven people affected by terminal malignancies in the penis, the prostate gland, as well as the testicles. However, at least six cases of people with bladder cancer benefited from the dosage of inositol. In these patients, the size of the tumors decreased, and the treatment resulted in the disappearance of hematuria - blood in the urine.
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The ability of the liver to resist the infiltration of fatty deposits and to recover from accumulated toxin damage is shown to be improved by doses of inositol. In men and in animals, this compound has also been reported to lower cholesterol levels in repeated tests. The compound lecithin was however, the main source of this inositol used in the experiments. For this reason, some clinicians suggest that as lecithin also contains choline and other compounds, the resulting cholesterol reducing effect might not have been induced by inositol acting alone, though the researchers did not attribute this action to inositol alone.
Good dietary sources of the vitamin inositol can include compounds such as lecithin, foods like yeast, all kinds of organ meats, different types of nuts, all types of fruits and vegetables as well as all kinds of whole grains. There are a wide range of dosages as far as inositol supplements are concerned, ranging from doses that are less than a hundred milligrams to doses that are several hundred mgs each. That the body does not always synthesize inositol in "adequate" amounts is indicated by the fact that both animals and people have been aided by supplements of inositol in case of deficiencies.
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Deficiencies of inositol have not been reported and are very rare if they ever occur, though some supplemental inositol can really aid diabetics who have increased excretion and loss of nutrients.
Inositol supplements are not required by most people as deficiencies are very rare. At the same time, inositol found in small amounts commonly seen in different multi-vitamin supplements is possibly not necessary and ineffective in treating people. Supplements of inositol are sometimes suggested to patients by nutritionally oriented doctors at doses of 500 mg taken two times daily.
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While elevated levels of inositol is seen in individuals affected by chronic renal failure, there are no reports of inositol induced toxicity in people - such toxic effects may only affect those already affected by some disorder. The presence of large amounts of phytate, the most common dietary form of the compound inositol can inhibit the absorption of minerals such as calcium, iron, and zinc. This effect is however, not apparent in patients using supplemental inositol.