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Inositol & Caffeine

By Leli Dratta

Inositol and caffeine are common ingredients in energy drinks, and both are generally regarded as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Inositol is naturally found in fruits and other foods and is sometimes called vitamin B-8, although it is not a true vitamin as the body can synthesize it in sufficient amounts. Caffeine is also produced naturally by some plants such as guarana and tea bush. Your body does not produce it or need it for good health.

Caffeine and Inositol Interactions

Caffeine can interact to some degree with inositol receptors in the body, as reported in the February 2010 issue of “Cancer Research.” However, no definite evidence backs the claim of some manufacturers that caffeine intake can result in a deficiency of inositol. In fact, the study reported in “Cancer Research” found that although caffeine can inhibit the release of calcium via a type of inositol receptor in cells, it does not affect the binding of inositol to these receptors in any way. If you do wish to supplement with inositol, consult your doctor first.

Inositol and Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome refers to a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk of cardiovascular disorders and diabetes. A study reported in the January 2011 issue of “Menopause” investigated whether inositol could improve some features of the metabolic syndrome in post-menopausal women. Women supplemented with inositol exhibited lower diastolic blood pressures, lower triglycerides and improved high-density lipoprotein cholesterol after six months of treatment compared to women not given inositol. These women were supplemented with inositol only -- if you have metabolic syndrome you shouldn’t try to get inositol from energy drinks as these are often high in sugar and stimulants.

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Inositol and Bipolar Disorder

Inositol may find clinical application in some psychiatric conditions, as it is associated with various neurotransmitter receptors and can cross the blood-brain barrier in pharmacological doses. The March 2000 issue of “Bipolar Disorders” investigated the action of 12 g of inositol daily for six weeks in patients with bipolar disorder. Patients receiving inositol reported better improvements in their conditions than did patients given a placebo. No serious side effects were reported.

Caffeine As a Stimulant

Caffeine is found in coffee and other energy beverages. Caffeine acts as a stimulant, improving alertness and focus. Karrie Heneman, Ph.D., and Sheri Zidenberg-Cherr, Ph.D., of the Department of Nutrition at University of California-Davis report that there is limited evidence indicating that consumption of energy drinks can improve physical and mental performance. However, as the 2011 issue of “Progress in Brain Research” reports, use of caffeine can have detrimental effects on subsequent sleep. This can result in daytime sleepiness that the individual is likely to counteract with more caffeine, continuing the cycle. Overuse of caffeine can result in dependency, nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, headaches and heart palpitations.

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