t is in the news on a near-daily basis. Research studies address various aspects of it. Many people ask what their doctor can do about it.“It” is cholesterol.The evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that elevated cholesterol levels greatly increase the risk of death due to cardiovascular diseases (CVD), such as heart attack and stroke. These diseases claimed 927,448 lives in the U.S. in 2002, making CVD the number one killer in the U.S. today.
There are two types of cholesterol: LDL and HDL. LDL cholesterol is the “bad” cholesterol because it carries cholesterol from the liver to the bloodstream, which can ultimately contribute to the formation of plaque that clogs the arteries, resulting in atherosclerosis. HDL cholesterol is the “good” cholesterol and has the exact opposite effect of LDL. Specifically, HDLs carry cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it is then eliminated from the body.
Triglycerides transport and store fat in the body. It is clear that high triglyceride levels are not good for the body, and this can be particularly problematic when combined with excess levels of LDL cholesterol. People with high triglycerides often have high total cholesterol, high LDL cholesterol, and low HDL cholesterol.
The cholesterol-lowering drugs known as “statins” are among the most widely prescribed drugs used today (Lipitor ranked second). However, some adverse side effects of statins are possible elevation of liver enzymes and muscle discomfort. Literature shows that the nutritional supplements listed below have produced more advantageous changes in cholesterol profiles, with more tolerability and safety, than statins:
1. Policosanol: (a natural compound derived from sugarcane wax): 10-20 mg. Numerous studies show that policosanol reduces total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and lipoprotein (a), and it increases the good HDL cholesterol.
2. Fish Oil: 1-3 g. Fish oils help to reduce inflammation in the arteries and lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
3. Niacin (Inositol hexaniacinate): 1500 – 2500 mg. This is a non-flush form of niacin. It is known to reduce cholesterol levels and increase HDL.
4. Red Yeast Rice Extract (Monascus purpureus): 1200 mg twice daily. This has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels and increase HDL.
5. Guggulipid: Up to 1500 mg. This herb helps to reduce cholesterol levels and increase HDL.
6. Garlic: 1000 mg. This helps reduce cholesterol levels and increase HDL cholesterol levels.
7. Multivitamin/Multimineral Complex: (with proper antioxidant formula): Antioxidants prevent cholesterol oxidation.
8. Magnesium: 400-800 mg. This more reliably improves all aspects of dyslipidemia, including raising HDL-C and lowering triglycerides, and it has the same pleiotropic effects as statins without the adverse effects.
9. Green Tea: Daily consumption of green tea was found to decrease serum LDL.
10. L-Carnitine: 1000 mg. Decreases triglyceride levels by aiding in fatty acid oxidation.
11. Co-enzyme Q10: 100 mg. If a statin drug is presently being used: A vital nutrient that is required for proper heart function that is lowered by statin use.
12. Milk Thistle (Silybum marinum): 200 mg. Counteracts increased liver enzymes attributed to statin use.
Dr. Robert Silverman graduated magna cum laude from the University of Bridgeport College of Chiropractic and has a Masters of Science in human nutrition. He is a certified nutrition specialist, certified clinical nutritionist, certified strength and conditioning specialist, certified Kinesio Taping® practitioner, NASM-certified corrective exercise specialist, and a certified sports nutritionist from The International Society of Sports Nutrition. Dr. Silverman is a diplomat with the American Clinical Board of Nutrition and with the Chiropractic Board of Clinical Nutrition. He has a successful full-time private practice in White Plains, NY, where he specializes in the diagnosis of joint pain and soft-tissue management while incorporating proper nutrition protocols. Among his nutrition recommendations are products from Ajinomoto, including Capsiate Natura ®, which naturally increases metabolism; Natura Guard BP ™, which can help patients maintain healthy blood-pressure levels; and Glysom ™, which promotes sounder, more satisfying sleep for occasional sleeplessness.