Cholesterol Formulas: Information
Cholesterol is a lipid used throughout the body, transported by blood plasma. Cholesterol serves as a raw material for the manufacture of steroid hormones, and as a structural component of cell membranes. The metabolism of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K all depend on cholesterol.
The term cholesterol is derived from chole, the Greek word for bile, and 'sterol', meaning a combination steroid/alcohol molecule. In addition its other purposes, cholesterol is used by the liver in the manufacture of bile. Bile, stored by the gallbladder and released into the digestive tract, assists in the absorption of fats. As fat is absorbed, cholesterol is re-absorbed by the body. This is how soluble fiber that binds and absorbs fat, like oat bran, can lower cholesterol.
High or unbalanced cholesterol is a very common problem and a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Under certain conditions LDL and VLDL cholesterol oxidize and begin a cascade of events that damages vascular and heart health. Products in this section contain ingredients that may promote lower cholesterol levels, prevent its oxidation, and/or promote a healthier balance between the different cholesterol forms such as HDL, LDL and VLDL.
Why Use a Cholesterol Formula?
Drugs for combating high cholesterol are among the most frequently prescribed of all prescription drugs. Due to their high cost, significant side-effects and inconsistent results many people and even health professionals are actively exploring other, non-drug approaches to healthy cholesterol levels. Cholesterol formulas cost far less and have insignificant side-effects when compared to cholesterol-regulating drugs.
What's in Cholesterol Formulas?
There are about 8 or 9 key ingredients used in Cholesterol Formulas both alone and in various combinations. There is no best combination or best supplement to try first, individual responses vary greatly and blood tests are necessary to validate results. The 'active ingredients' for cholesterol are often combined with other nutrients for more general support of cardiovascular health, and less focused on lowering cholesterol.
Cholesterol-lowering nutrients work in several ways. First, remember that cholesterol is found in foods but most of it is produced by the liver and a portion re-absorbed from the gut with dietary fats. Cholesterol formulas' ingredients work by either interfering with the liver's production of cholesterol, by affecting reabsorption in the large intestine or in some cases the mechanism is not clear:
- Red Yeast Rice - Contains small amounts of compounds similar to statin drugs, and, like statin drugs, work by interfering with the liver's synthesis of new cholesterol.
- Fiber- Soluble fibers like that found in oat bran have the ability to absorb and bind dietary fats like cholesterol preventing their reabsorption.
- Sterols - Sterols from plants, like beta-sitosterol, compete with cholesterol for absorption from the digestive tract and allow some cholesterol to be eliminated. Sterols are a key ingredient in many cholesterol formulas.
- Niacin - Niacin supplements have been very effective for some people in fairly high doses, well-above RDI levels. Use high-dose niacin only under a doctor's supervision.
- Fish oil - Fish oil may lower triglycerides and cholesterol or improve HDL:LDL ratios in some people, the mechanism of action is not clear, however.
- Chromium picolinate - Studies have shown that the trace mineral chromium can lower total cholesterol and triglycerides or improve the HDL:LDL through an unidentified mechanism.
- Lecithin - Lecithin is a mixture of healthy fats and acts as an emulsifier. Lecithin may improve the body's ability to metabolize blood lipids like cholesterol.
- Co-Q10 - Doesn't actually lower cholesterol but protects it against oxidation; it's the oxidization of cholesterol that makes it harmful.
- Vitamin E - Like Co-Q10 it's an antioxidant that protect cholesterol from oxidation.
Using Cholesterol Formulas
Inform your doctor if you have high cholesterol and wish to use supplements to lower it either alone or in combination with prescription medications. Since high cholesterol has no symptoms, you will need to arrange cholesterol blood tests on a regular basis to determine how the Cholesterol Formula is working.
Side-effects and Cautions:
None noted. Use products as directed, obtain regular cholesterol tests and consult your doctor or pharmacist with questions about combining Cholesterol Formulas with medications.