By Jennifer Sexton
Three natural substances have recently made a name for themselves in the PCOS community: pinitol, d-chiro-inositol & inositol.
Their use has been linked to lowered cholesterol, moderate weight loss and increased ovulation in women with PCOS, which in turn aids in the increased chance for becoming pregnant. In fact, it is believed that a deficiency in d-chiro-inositol is partially to blame for the insulin resistance in women with PCOS. So, if this deficiency can be addressed, the condition itself could be addressed as well.
Travis Johnson, with an MA in Biochemistry and VP of Chiral Balance LLC, a company devoted to providing unbiased information and access to purchasing various amounts of d-chiro-inositol supplements, said recently, “If you can address the insulin resistance … then you can address all of the symptoms of the syndrome not least of which is compromised fertility. In my opinion, there is a small but incontrovertible body of evidence that women with PCOS have some defect in inositol metabolism such that they don’t make DCI (d-chiro-inositol).” (5)
The term “inositol” is associated with a family of related substances known as B-vitamins. Pinitol and d-chiro-inositol are within this family and are similar in chemical structure and biochemical action. Myo-inositol is also a member of this family of B-vitamins and is often referred to as simply inositol. Myo-inositol can be found in many human tissues as well as various foods, including fruits, beans, grains, and nuts. (6)
Pinitol can be purchased as a supplement, but it also exists in some foods such as legumes and citrus fruits. An inositol supplement is also available and in one study its use has been linked to a 23% increase in ovulation. (2) This effect has also been documented in women taking supplements of d-chiro-inositol with a noted increase in ovulation of 86%. (1)
It is important to understand that pinitol can be made into d-chiro-inositol within the body – pinitol converts to myo-inositol, which then converts to d-chiro-inositol. “DCI, for most people, can be made from pinitol or even sugar, but it has to pass through myo-inositol along the way and therein lies the problem,” according to Travis Johnson. (5)
Pinitol, inositol and d-chiro-inositol are all available for purchase as supplements. Pinitol is the most expensive, followed by d-chiro-inositol and inositol but all three supplements can be beneficial. Some women may benefit from a supplement of pinitol, which could then aid in the conversion ultimately to d-chiro-inositol.