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ANTIAGING PRODUCTS: CHOLESTEROL LOWERING SUPPLEMENTS

 

Cholesterol Lowering

Foods known to assist in lowering cholesterol include beta glucans containing oats and barley.

Although the extent of the following supplements has yet to be sufficiently proven, they have had a range of effects from impressive to modest, with very rarely side effects.

It is recommended to tell your doctor and have periodic blood tests to see if they are having the desired effect.

Phytosterols [Plant sterols]

Phytosterols interfere with absorption of lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, but little or no effect on HDL (“good”) cholesterol or triglycerides.

Used in FDA-approved margarines (Benecol and Take Control), which lower cholesterol by an average of 10% when eaten as directed, have proven more effective than supplements. Potential side effects include gastrointestinal problems such as cramping and diarrhea. May possibly reduce absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, K, and E) as well as carotenoids such as beta carotene.

 

Psyllium (Sold as Metamucil)

Psyllium is a seed grain fibre supplement and laxative (powder or pill). Lowers total and LDL cholesterol by 4 to 7%. Start with a low dose, then increase to minimise gas and bloating. May interact with some drugs. In rare cases, allergic reactions.

 

Niacin [B vitamin, nicotinic acid]

Niacin, in massive doses lowers LDL, boosts HDL, and reduce triglycerides substantially. May have other beneficial effects as well. Other cholesterol-lowering drugs have less effect on HDL and triglycerides.

Niacin is not recommended for people with liver disease, it can cause hot fushes and itching, nausea, blurred vision, dizziness, headache, rise in blood sugar, and liver damage. Extended-release versions, such as Niaspan, reduce flushing. Best taken under medical supervision.

 

Red yeast rice extracts

These rice extracts have been used for centuries in China as a heart remedy. Made by fermenting red yeast on rice; contains lovastatin, the same ingredient found in one of the statin drugs (Mevacor). Can cause bloating, gas and in rare cases, muscle pain or liver problems. May interact with grapefruit juice.

Do not take with other cholesterol-lowering drugs or levothyroxine (for thyroid problems). Take under medical supervision with periodic blood tests.

 

Policosanol

Policosanol is derived from sugar cane, yams, or beeswax. Some studies suggest it can lower LDL cholesterol as much as 25%; others have found little or no effect. Don’t take with anti-clotting drugs.

Potential side effects include: gastrointestinal upset, rashes, headaches, insomnia, and weight loss. May inhibit blood clotting.

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