Inosine is an important chemical found throughout the body. It plays many roles, one of which is helping to make ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the body's main form of usable energy. Based primarily on this fact, inosine supplements have been proposed as an energy-booster for athletes, as well as a treatment for various heart conditions.
Inosine is not an essential nutrient. However, brewer’s yeast and organ meats, such as liver and kidney, contain considerable amounts. Inosine is also available in purified form.
When used as a sports supplement, a typical dosage of inosine is 5 to 6 g daily (see Safety Issues).
Inosine has been proposed as a treatment for various forms of heart disease, from irregular heartbeat to recovery from heart attacks.1 However, the evidence that it offers any benefit to the heart remains far too preliminary to rely upon at all.
Inosine has also been suggested as a possible treatment for Tourette’s syndrome, a neurological disorder.7
Although no side effects have been reported with the use of inosine, long-term use should be avoided. A very preliminary double-blind crossover study that enrolled 7 participants suggests that high doses of inosine (5,000 to 10,000 mg per day for 5 to 10 days) may increase the risk of uric acid–related problems, such as gout or kidney stones.8
The safety of inosine for young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with serious liver or kidney disease has not been established.
As with all supplements taken in multigram doses, it is important to purchase a reputable product, because a contaminant present even in small percentages could add up to a real problem.
1. Kipshidze NN, Korotkov AA, Chapidze GE, et al. Indications for the use of inosine in myocardial infarct [in Russian; English abstract]. Kardiologiia. 1978;18:18–28.
2. Starling RD, Trappe TA, Short KR, et al. Effect of inosine supplementation on aerobic and anaerobic cycling performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1996;28:1193–1198.
3. Dragan I, Baroga M, Eremia N, et al. Studies regarding some effects of inosine in elite weightlifters. Rom J Physiol. 1993;30:47–50.
4. Williams MH, Kreider RB, Hunter DW, et al. Effect of inosine supplementation on 3-mile treadmill run performance and VO2 peak. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1990;22:517–522.
5. Rosenbloom C, Millard-Stafford M, Lathrop J. Contemporary ergogenic aids used by strength/power athletes. J Am Diet Assoc. 1992;92:1264–1266.
6. McNaughton L, Dalton B, Tarr J. Inosine supplementation has no effect on aerobic or anaerobic cycling performance. Int J Sport Nutr. 1999;9:333–344.
7. Cheng Y, Jiang DH. Therapeutic effect of inosine in Tourette syndrome and its possible mechanism of action [in Chinese; English abstract]. Chung Hua Shen Ching Ching Shen Ko Tsa Chih. 1990;23:90–93, 126–127.
8. McNaughton L, Dalton B, Tarr J. Inosine supplementation has no effect on aerobic or anaerobic cycling performance. Int J Sport Nutr. 1999;9:333–344.
Last reviewed December 2015 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
Last Updated: 12/15/2015
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