Loss on drying:
Solubility in water:
C7 H14 O6
White to off-white fine-crystalline powder
179 – 185 ºC
only slightly sweet, no distinct side- or aftertaste
stable under normal processing and storage conditions of foods and dietary supplements, no indications for undesired reactions or interactions with other food constituyents or ingredients of dietary supplements
Pinitol is a naturally occurring substance. It belongs to the group of inositols. They are a class of compounds which consists of nine distinct isomers. Inositols resemble six member ring simple sugars (i.e. glucose) but are not sugars but cyclic sugar alcohols.
Inositols are, like simple sugars, a part of the normal human diet and as shown by the available evidence also non-toxic. Pinitol differs from other inositols in that it contains a methyl ether group. Research has shown that pinitol has distinct bioactivity which differentiates it from other inositols.
Pinitol is found in certain legumes (eg. soy), several other plants and fruits and in pine tree parts. Chemically, it is defined as an inositol. The best source of pinitol are the husks of the carob tree pods (Ceratonia siliqua L.). The carob tree is resistant to unfavourable environmental conditions and does not normally require special treatments like intense farming or application of pesticides.
In the human body pinitol is partly converted to D-chiro-inositol and partly excreted unchanged.
Pinitol and glucose metabolism and diabetes
The hormone insulin is a key substance for the control of metabolism of glucose (blood sugar) in the body. Low insulin levels result in the disease diabetes mellitus. Insufficient treatment of diabetes can cause severe long-term damage of different types to several parts of the human body .
Since 1987 numerous studies in animals and also humans showed that D-pinitol can exert an insulin-like effect to improve glycaemic control. They suggest that there is a synergy between pinitol and insulin at sub-maximal concentrations, but this is not evident with glucose transport. It seems that no further effect of pinitol exists when maximal insulin concentrations are present. It is, however, unlikely that hypoglycemia would result from the administration of pinitol.
Chiro-inositol to which pinitol is metabolised seems to be the key substance for the positive effects as type-2 diabetics have a higher excretion of this substance. Compared to healthy persons, they have an extremely low level of this compound or lack it completely. The insulin sensitivity in humans is inversely correlated to the excretion of chiro-inositol.
Some studies indicate positive effects on long-term damages caused by diabetes like eye problems.
Pinitol and creatine retention
Higher creatine retention in the muscles improves training adaption and, by higher conversion of glucose into its storage form glycogen, also endurance. This could be achieved by simultaneous intake of creatine and large amounts of glucose (e. g. more than 35 g) or glucose and protein (ca. 50 g each) as the resulting insulin secretion improves creatine absorption and retention. Such combined intake leads to significant, but often undesired additional calorie intake. Pinitol supplementation at low doses (up to 1 g per day) during creatine loading or preferably as a pre-load before creatine intake appears to augment creatine absorption and retention in a similar way. Higher doses are not as effective. This insulin-resembling effect can promote the building of muscular mass in the body. It does, however, not stimulate growth of muscular mass beyond the natural limits and has therefore no anabolic effects. Therefore pinitol can play a valuable role in sports nutrition.
In several mutagenicity studies pinitol was non-mutagenic even at high concentrations.
The acute toxicity of pinitol is low. Administration to animals for 28 days did not show negative effects. Single doses of several grams are well tolerated by humans.
Long-term pinitol ingestion by humans from different plant foods which contain pinitol like soybeans
or carob pods has not shown negative effects. In countries with a high consumption of soybeans daily doses of 250 – 300 mg per day seem common. Neither have negative effects been reported
from human studies with pinitol of more than 1 g per person per day for several weeks. No unde-
sired effects like flatulence, diarrhoea, abdominal pain or allergic or hypersensitivity effects were reported. Based on the historical evidence it can reasonably be concluded that intake of a reasonable amount of pinitol is safe.
Pinitol is consumed for its physiological effects and therefore generally classified as a food and not as a food additive.
In the EU pinitol has been consumed as part of the normal diet by consumption of carob and soy products for decades if not centuries. Only consumption of levels well exceeding the intake from these sources may require examination whether the specific use has to be authorised. Health claims have to be approved by the EU under conditions outlined in Regulation 1924/2006/EC, especially art. 13 and 14.
In the USA pinitol from pine trees has been accepted as a new ingredient for dietary supplements. Use of carob pinitol would require a respective approach. FDA´s consent should, based on the identical structure and at least same degree of purity, be obtainable. Any claims on pinitol functions have to based on scientific evidence and to be accompanied by the following statement: “This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease”.
Any claim referring to treatment or cure of a disease makes a product a pharmaceutical which would require authorisation under pharmaceuticals legislation.
In Japan pinitol-containing products would qualify for FOSHU (Food for Specified Health Uses) approval provided the general requirements effectiveness, safety, appropriate ingredients and adequate quality control are met.
Euronutra is prepared to assist its customers in obtaining the necessary authorisations for their products.