Cholesterol Management And Dietary Supplements: What You Need To Know – Insights From TGH Urgent Care

Cholesterol Management And Dietary Supplements What You Need To Know - Insights From TGH Urgent Care

This comprehensive article, brought to you by TGH Urgent Care, will delve deep into cholesterol management and the use of dietary supplements. We aim to provide you with a well-informed perspective on the subject, highlighting the importance of seeking guidance from healthcare professionals when considering dietary supplements for cholesterol management.

Cholesterol management can involve incorporating supplements into your strategy. Cholesterol, an essential fat-like substance found in every cell, plays a crucial role in bodily functions. However, excessive levels, particularly of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), often dubbed “bad” cholesterol, can pose health risks. If your cholesterol is high, your healthcare provider may suggest medication or lifestyle changes. Yet, you might also consider cholesterol-lowering supplements to reach your target levels.

It’s important to note that dietary supplements receive minimal FDA regulation and may not be suitable for everyone. Their effectiveness varies among individuals and depends on factors like type, dosage, frequency, and potential interactions with existing medications. Consult your healthcare provider or pharmacist before introducing any supplements.

Why Lower Cholesterol?

Cholesterol can be produced internally or obtained from dietary sources. Maintaining cholesterol within a healthy range is essential for optimal well-being. Elevated LDL cholesterol levels can lead to the formation of plaque, clogging arteries and potentially causing complications like strokes or heart attacks.

Healthcare providers measure cholesterol in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) using a lipid profile:

  • LDL, often considered “bad” cholesterol, should be around 100 mg/dL, according to the CDC.
  • HDL, or “good” cholesterol, with levels at or above 40 mg/dL for men and 50 mg/dL for women, can reduce stroke and heart attack risks.
  • Elevated triglyceride levels, when combined with low HDL or high LDL cholesterol, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. The CDC recommends triglycerides below 150 mg/dL.
  • Total cholesterol encompasses various lipid types and should be around 150 mg/dL, per CDC guidelines.

These ranges provide general cholesterol guidelines, but your healthcare provider may tailor recommendations based on your family history, lifestyle, and overall health.

Supplements for Lowering Cholesterol

While adopting a healthy diet, exercise, and avoiding smoking are the primary natural methods for managing cholesterol, supplements may offer support. However, it’s crucial to understand that supplements are not as rigorously regulated as medications by the FDA. Therefore, consulting your healthcare provider is essential before including supplements in your routine.

  1. Red Yeast Rice: This food supplement, derived from traditional Chinese cuisine, may contain monacolin K, a natural form of the cholesterol-lowering drug lovastatin. Red yeast rice extract has demonstrated LDL cholesterol reduction of 15% to 25% over two months. However, safety concerns exist, including potential kidney issues and muscle-related side effects.
  2. Berberine: A dietary supplement from traditional Chinese medicine, berberine, sourced from plants like goldenseal, has been shown to lower both LDL and triglyceride levels. Its exact mechanism remains unclear, and side effects often relate to the digestive system, such as diarrhea or constipation.
  3. Fish Oil/Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish and fish oil capsules, may improve overall cholesterol levels. However, dietary fresh fish is generally more effective than supplements. Fish oil supplements vary widely in content and are not FDA-regulated. Allergic reactions can occur, and potential interactions with blood-thinning medications require consultation with a healthcare provider.
  4. Garlic: Recognized as one of the oldest dietary supplements, garlic is believed to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. It may reduce overall cholesterol by 7.4–29.8 mg/dL and LDL levels by 5% to 10%. Some people may experience body odor, digestive issues, or allergic reactions. Garlic supplements can also increase the risk of bleeding.
  5. Soluble Fiber: Incorporating soluble fiber into your diet, such as psyllium supplements, may help lower cholesterol. Soluble fiber attaches to dietary cholesterol, reducing its absorption into the bloodstream. While it’s recommended as an option, its effectiveness is still debated. Potential side effects are mild digestive symptoms.

Supplements to Approach Cautiously The International Lipid Expert Panel reviewed supplements for cholesterol management in 2017, cautioning against certain options, including policosanols, silymarin, and conjugated linoleic acid. These supplements lack sufficient evidence of efficacy and may even pose risks.

Conclusion

In conclusion, high cholesterol is a significant risk factor for serious health issues like strokes and heart attacks. While some dietary supplements show potential in managing cholesterol, the quality of research supporting their safety and effectiveness varies. Manufacturers of supplements are not required to provide rigorous testing for their claims. It is crucial to consult your healthcare provider about any supplements and medications you take. If natural approaches do not yield sufficient results, prescription medications may be recommended to address cholesterol concerns.

Sources:

  1. Cholesterol.
  2. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Blood cholesterol: Treatment.
  3. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Blood cholesterol: Symptoms.
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Getting your cholesterol checked.
  5. Cholesterol levels: What you need to know.
  6. US Food and Drug Administration. FDA 101: Dietary supplements.
  7. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Red yeast rice.
  8. Cicero AFG, Fogacci F, Banach M. Red yeast rice for hypercholesterolemia. Methodist Debakey Cardiovasc J. 2019;15(3):192-199. doi:10.14797/mdcj-15-3-192
  9. Zhao JV, Yeung WF, Chan YH, et al. Effect of berberine on cardiovascular disease risk factors: A mechanistic randomized controlled trial. Nutrients. 2021;13(8):2550. doi:10.3390/nu13082550
  10. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Goldenseal.
  11. Banach M, Patti AM, Giglio RV, et al. The role of nutraceuticals in statin intolerant patients. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2018;72(1):96-118. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2018.04.040
  12. Zibaeenezhad MJ, Ghavipisheh M, Attar A, Aslani A. Comparison of the effect of omega-3 supplements and fresh fish on lipid profile: a randomized, open-labeled trial. Nutr & Diabetes. 2017;7(12):1. doi:10.1038/s41387-017-0007-8
  13. Fialkow J. Omega-3 fatty acid formulations in cardiovascular disease: dietary supplements are not substitutes for prescription products. Am J Cardiovasc Drugs. 2016;16(4):229-239. doi:10.1007/s40256-016-0170-7
  14. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Omega-3 supplements: In depth.
  15. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Garlic.
  16. Varshney R, Budoff MJ. Garlic and heart disease. J Nutr. 2016;146(2):416S-421S. doi:10.3945/jn.114.202333
  17. Sun YE, Wang W, Qin J. Anti-hyperlipidemia of garlic by reducing the level of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein: A meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore). 2018;97(18):e0255. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000010255
  18. Surampudi P, Enkhmaa B, Anuurad E, Berglund L. Lipid lowering with soluble dietary fiber. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2016;18(12):75. doi:10.1007/s11883-016-0624-z
  19. Cicero AFG, Colletti A, Bajraktari G, et al. Lipid-lowering nutraceuticals in clinical practice: position paper from an International Lipid Expert Panel. Nutrition Reviews. 2017;75(9):731-767. doi:10.1093/nutrit/nux047
  20. Psyllium.
  21. Cicero AFG, Colletti A, Bajraktari G, et al. Lipid lowering nutraceuticals in clinical practice: position paper from an International Lipid Expert Panel. Arch Med Sci. 2017;13(5):965–1005. doi:10.5114/aoms.2017.69326

Disclaimer – Use At Your Own Risk: The content provided in this article is intended for information purposes only. It should not be construed as medical advice for any specific individual case or situation. TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track shall not be held liable for any losses or damages arising from the use of information obtained from these blogs. All blog posts are intended for educational purposes. We strongly recommend consulting with a qualified professional for your specific questions and queries. Attempting any action without expert guidance and oversight can lead to severe injury or even loss of life. Your safety is of utmost importance to us.

Disclaimer

The blogs presented by TGH Urgent Care in partnership with Fast Track are not a replacement for medical care and are exclusively intended for educational purposes. The content provided here should not be construed as medical guidance. If you are encountering any symptoms, we strongly recommend that you seek an appointment with a duly qualified medical practitioner at our nearest facility.

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