Can an obscure vitamin supplement help dieters shed the pounds?

After this TikTok star, 25, showed off her dramatic seven stone weight loss hack… can an obscure vitamin supplement really help dieters shed the pounds?

Slimmers have been emptying chemists’ shelves of a little-known vitamin supplement after a video claiming it helped one woman lose an astonishing seven stone in six months went viral on social media.

In the TikTok clip, which has been viewed almost four million times, personal assistant Aida Azizii reveals dramatic before and after pictures of her transformation and explains it was thanks to inositol, a type of carbohydrate found in rice.

Hundreds of copycat videos have since popped up, with others claiming it worked for them too.

Speaking to The Mail on Sunday, Aida, 25, from London, says: ‘Inositol changed my life. I’d tried everything, from prescription drugs to every diet you can imagine, and nothing worked like this.’

Unsurprisingly, a stampede at the shops followed her revelation.

Natural health shop Holland & Barrett says sales of inositol supplements doubled in the week following the video, which went live on March 1, and it is still the most searched-for item on its website. 

BEFORE:  Personal assistant Aida Azizii, 25, reveals dramatic before and after pictures of her transformation and explains it was thanks to inositol, a type of carbohydrate found in rice

AFTER: She lost an astonishing seven stone over six months and went viral across social media

Independent pharmacy Landys says that on March 3 it received more than 700 orders in a single day.

So could inositol really be the Holy Grail that slimmers have long been searching for? The answer, intriguingly, is yes.

Also known as Vitamin B8, inositol, which we naturally consume in small amounts in a normal diet, is thought to regulate hormone levels. 

Capsules containing concentrated doses have long been touted by natural health fans for helping to suppress appetite and curb cravings. Others say it can boost fertility and relieve pain problems.

Medical researchers began studying inositol about a decade ago, believing it might have an effect similar to the prescription medication metformin, which lowers the amount of sugar in the blood and is given to type 2 diabetes sufferers.

‘Inositol and metformin both have an influence on levels of insulin, the hormone that controls the level of sugar in your blood,’ says Dr Channa Jayasena, a reproductive endocrinologist at Imperial College London. 

‘There’s growing acceptance in the medical community that inositol has some genuine weight-loss effects, so it’s not surprising that it’s catching on.’

Also known as Vitamin B8, inositol, which we naturally consume in small amounts in a normal diet, is thought to regulate hormone levels. [File image]

Recent studies have shown promise in patients suffering weight gain due to polycystic ovary syndrome. The condition, which affects one in ten women, occurs when fluid-filled sacs appear on the ovaries.

This skews hormone levels, triggering symptoms from irregular periods and excessive hair growth to infertility.

It also increases the amount of insulin the body produces – excess amounts in the blood promote fat storage and increase hunger, leading to weight gain.

Patients with polycystic ovary syndrome are given metformin to help balance insulin levels and control weight, and experts were intrigued by the idea of inositol as a possible natural alternative.

One trial published in 2017 found that sufferers of the syndrome who were given inositol saw similar levels of weight loss to those given metformin. 

And an analysis of nine trials also published in 2017 concluded that women with the condition who took inositol for more than 24 weeks were more likely to see metabolic improvements – such as loss of weight and reduced blood sugar – than those who did not.

Unsurprisingly, a stampede at the shops followed her revelation after Aida posted the clip to TikTok, where it received 4 million views

Many NHS hospitals now recommend inositol for polycystic ovary syndrome patients. ‘I advised two to start taking myo-inositol [a common form of the supplement] this week,’ says Dr Jayasena.

Aida was diagnosed with the condition at 16 and suffered the classic symptoms, including weight gain.

Doctors prescribed metformin, but while it did help Aida lose some weight, she suffered debilitating side effects including nausea, and was forced to come off the drug.

She says: ‘After that my weight spiralled. I was eating more and gaining more weight. I always felt starving.’

Aida says she read about inositol six months ago: ‘I’d tried everything else, and saw this was a natural supplement and it had helped loads of other women. So I asked my GP and she said to go for it.’

Initially she took a single capsule containing 1g of inositol. Within weeks she noticed a change.

‘I stopped getting urges to eat sugary foods,’ she says.

Natural health shop Holland & Barrett says sales of inositol supplements doubled in the week following the video, which went live on March 1, and it is still the most searched-for item on its website

As the weight dropped off, she found the confidence to begin going to the gym, and gradually upped her dose to four capsules a day – the amount shown in studies to help with weight loss.

Six months on she had lost just over seven stone – and decided to share her story on TikTok. So could inositol help every would-be slimmer?

Private nutritional therapist Jackie Lynch, from West London, urges caution. 

She says she would recommend inositol to anyone with polycystic ovary syndrome who wasn’t on metformin: ‘If you’re someone who has struggled because of the side effects, then inositol might work for you.’

However, she also believes people who do not have the condition should not be taking it, especially not in doses over 4g.

Studies show that regularly taking large doses of inositol can lead to nausea, indigestion and even hypoglycaemia, where the blood sugar levels drop too low. 

She adds: ‘These compounds can be harsh on the gut, and can lead to really quite uncomfortable issues if used too much.’

And not all doctors are convinced by inositol. ‘Research only really sprang up about a decade ago and I still think there’s not enough out there to say anything definitive,’ says Professor Naveed Sattar, a metabolic expert at the University of Glasgow.

He adds: ‘It’s possible that people who take inositol and believe they lose weight are in fact just dieting and exercising more, but put the changes down to the pill.’

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