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Like Choline, Inositol may be helpful in lowering an individual's cholesterol levels. However, Inositol has been found to be helpful in other areas as well, including the promotion of healthy hair, the prevention of eczema, and as an aid in the redistribution of body fat.

Should you take supplemental doses of inositol? According to some sources, taking supplemental inositol can increase the effectiveness of both choline and Vitamin E.

Inositol is part of the vitamin B complex. It promotes healthy brain development and function, and works closely with choline to move fats out of the heart and liver.

Inositol and choline combine to produce lecithin, a type of lipid that is needed to form healthy membranes for every living cell in the body. Lecithin helps keep the brain, heart, and liver healthy, and aids in the absorption of thiamin (vitamin B1) and vitamin A.

Inositol is also vital for hair growth, and, as a component of lecithin, helps to prevent high cholesterol and the hardening of the arteries caused by cholesterol buildup. It has also been said to have a calming effect on the nervous system, and is being studied as a possible treatment for depression, panic attacks, and even Alzheimer's disease.

How does the body produce its own supply of inositol? Bacteria in the intestines convert the phytic acid found in plant fibres into inositol, so the body is able to manufacture its own supply of this substance. Inositol is also found in a variety of foods containing myo-inositol, such as cantaloupe, citrus fruits (other than lemons), nuts, oats, rice, beans, chickpeas, liver, pork, veal, whole grains, lecithin granules, and wheat germ.

Although the consumption of large amounts of caffeine may cause a shortage of inositol in the body, deficiencies of choline are rare. Nevertheless, heavy coffee drinkers should probably consider taking supplemental inositol.

Some symptoms of inositol deficiency are arteriosclerosis, constipation, hair loss, high cholesterol, irritability, mood swings, and skin eruptions.

Inositol is available both as a separate supplement containing myo-inositol and choline, and as a component of lecithin supplements.

Inositol supplements do not seem to pose a risk for toxicity. There is no Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for inositol, but most people get about 1,000 milligrams a day from their food and doses as high as 50 grams have no reported side effects.

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