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What is inosine? Why do we need it?

Inosine is a nucleoside, one of the basic substances of which cells are comprised. It is a precursor to adenosine, an important molecule that plays a role in energy production and metabolism.

It is also a precursor to uric acid, a naturally occurring substance that is believed to neutralize some free radicals and may prevent the development of multiple sclerosis.

Inosine is believed to play a supportive role in many bodily functions, including the release of insulin, protein synthesis, and oxygen metabolism. Studies conducted in Europe suggest that inosine may enhance oxygen delivery to the muscles, which can result in increased endurance and may be of benefit to athletes. Inosine may also work in conjunction with other chemicals to remove a buildup of lactic acid in the blood, improving energy production and exercise performance.

How much inosine should I take?

The amount of inosine to be taken depends on the condition being treated. Generally, some practitioners will recommend 500-2,000 milligrams of inosine in supplement form, taken 30 minutes before exercising. Some studies have used doses ranging up to 6 grams per day, taken for several weeks.

What forms of inosine are available?

Inosine is found in brewer's yeast and various animal organ meats. It is also available as a supplement, usually in capsule or tablet form.

What can happen if I take too much inosine? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

Inosine appears to be well-tolerated in individuals taking relatively large doses (5-6 grams per day) for prolonged periods of time (>26 weeks). While no side-effects have been reported with the use of inosine, unused inosine can be converted by the body into uric acid, which may present problems for people at risk of developing gout. High amounts of uric acid may lead to conditions such as arthritic joints and toes.

As of this writing, there are no well-known drug interactions associated with inosine. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking inosine or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.


  • Benowitz L, et al. Inosine stimulates extensive axon collateral growth in the rat corticospinal tract after injury" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 1999;96:13486-13490.
  • Chen P, Goldberg D, Kolb B, et al. Inosine induces axonal rewiring and improves behavioral outcome after stroke. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2002;99(13):9031-9036.
  • D'Ambrosi N, et al. Interaction between ATP and nerve growth factor signaling in the survival and neuritic outgrowth from PC12 cells. Neuroscience 2001;108(3):527-534.
  • Koprowski H, Spitsin SV, Hooper DC. Prospects for the treatment of multiple sclerosis by raising serum levels of uric acid, a scavenger of peroxynitrite. Ann Neurol 2001;49:139.
  • Starling RD, Trappe TA, Short KR, et al. Effect of inosine supplementation on aerobic and anaerobic cycling performance. Med Sci Sports Ex 1996;28:1193-8.
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