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Boggio Family of Pharmacies

Boggios: A healthy choice for your whole life

           Many patients come into the pharmacy and have questions about cholesterol and what they can do to decrease it. Whether they found out they have elevated cholesterol through routine blood work or have a family history of high cholesterol, patients are curious about natural ways of lowering their cholesterol.

            There are two types of cholesterol: a “good” cholesterol (HDL) and “bad” cholesterol (LDL). For patients with high cholesterol, the goal of therapy is to increase the amount of HDL and decrease the amount of LDL. Approximately 80% of cholesterol is made by the body and only 20% comes from the food you eat.

            Many commercials for food products such as cereals and margarines are advertising that they can help lower cholesterol. The goal of this article is to examine the evidence of the effectiveness of various natural health and food products on the market that claim to lower cholesterol.

            Products that contain soluble fibres such as psyllium (ie. Metamucil) or oat bran are known as bile acid binders. These products increase the excretion of cholesterol from the body as well as increase the breakdown of cholesterol in the body to less harmful products. Between 10 and 30 grams of psyllium fibre daily mixed with others foods has been shown to have a significant cholesterol lowering effect.

            Between 1.5 and 3 grams per day of Niacin (Vitamin B3) has been shown to lower bad cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol. In some patients, Niacin can cause skin flushing (redness of the skin) as well as itching. There are “flush-free” or “no flush” Niacin products available; however, their effectiveness has not been established.

            Plant sterols and stanols often found in margarines labeled heart healthy (such as Becel Pro-activ) have been shown to prevent some of the absorption of cholesterol from the diet and can be included as part of a healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables to lower cholesterol.

            Finally, some studies have shown that between 600 and 1200mg of garlic in three divided doses can lower the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides (fat) in the body. Unfortunately, some patients report bad breath as well as nausea and flatulence when taking this amount of garlic.

            Patients who have been prescribed a cholesterol lowering medication called a “statin” such as Crestor (rosuvastatin) or Lipitor (atorvastatin) can consider taking Coenzyme Q10. Statins inhibit the synthesis of Coenzyme Q10, which may lead to muscle weakness and impaired energy metabolism.

            If you have any questions about natural health products available to help lower your cholesterol, be sure to ask your physician or community pharmacist to see if those products are right for you.

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