Lower Cholesterol Levels With Supplements
Learn about the core supplements needed to maintain healthy cholesterol levels
Adopting my Pan-Asian Mediterranean (PAM) diet and a regular exercise plan will go a long way toward helping you get your cholesterol levels within the optimal ranges. But in addition to these lifestyle changes, you may realize some additional cholesterol-lowering benefits by adding nutritional supplements to your regimen.
I take a two-tiered approach. For anyone who needs to be mindful of his or her cholesterol level—for example, if you have low HDL cholesterol; predominantly small, dense LDL cholesterol; high Lp(a); or diagnosed cardiovascular disease or a positive family history—I recommend trying the supplements I’ve outlined here.
For most people, these first-tier supplements will ensure that your body gets the support it needs to keep cholesterol levels in a healthy range. But if you still need help achieving healthy cholesterol levels, then I suggest you consider adding a few more of my favorite cholesterol-lowering supplements to the mix.
My Core Supplements for Healthy Cholesterol Levels
- A high-potency multinutrient plus omega-3 essential fatty acids
- My “awesome foursome”
- Delta tocotrienol
A High-Potency Multinutrient Plus Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids
The two core nutritional supplements that I recommend absolutely everyone take every day are a high-potency multinutrient and at least 1–2 grams of omega-3 essential fatty acids.
The multi will even out the natural fluctuations in your diet and offset age- and medication-related deficiencies, while the omega-3s can get inside cardiac cells and promote normal triglyceride levels as well as help to elevate healthy HDL cholesterol levels.
My “Awesome Foursome”
The “Awesome Foursome” is my name for the four supplements coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), L-carnitine, magnesium, and D-ribose.
Each of these is crucial for cellular energy production, and that’s extremely important in an organ like the heart. So I recommend that everyone with cardiovascular concerns should take these four supplements daily. CoQ10, especially, helps support healthy HDL cholesterol and prevents the excess oxidation of LDL cholesterol, while L-carnitine works synergistically with CoQ10 to support optimal cholesterol levels. And magnesium can improve HDL cholesterol levels and lower LDL levels (magnesium deficiencies, in fact, increase LDL cholesterol buildup).
Niacin (vitamin B3) is a fantastic nutrient that can help you increase healthy HDL cholesterol, as well as lower both triglycerides and the dangerous LDL cholesterol subtype known as Lp(a). The only downside to niacin is the flushing sensation it generates. This hot, tingly, pins-and-needles feeling is disconcerting to a lot of people, but it usually lasts no more than 30–60 minutes, and it is most pronounced during the first week or so that you take the supplement (it can also occur when you increase the dosage).
You can find no-flush forms of niacin, but they aren’t as effective, so I recommend regular niacin.
Start by taking 250 mg of niacin three times daily and slowly work up to 1–2 grams daily for a strong, medicinal effect. Note that niacin should be used with caution if you have diabetes. You can, however, ask your doctor about a prescription source of niacin called Niaspan that is well-tolerated with minimal side effects.
Derived from the wax of sugar cane, policosanol is a mixture of fatty alcohols that has been shown to help lower both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels.
In addition to lowering cholesterol, there is evidence that policosanol has a favorable impact on heart health by both reducing inflammatory hormone-like substances called prostaglandins, as well as decreasing platelet stickiness, thereby promoting proper clotting. You can find policosanol at most vitamin stores and online. Take 10–20 mg after dinner.
The compound delta tocotrienol belongs to the vitamin E family. Tocotrienol compounds occur naturally in plants and protect the carotenoids in plants from degradation.
New research shows that delta tocotrienol is particularly effective for reducing overall cholesterol, and perhaps most importantly, it may lower Lp(a), the most inflammatory and dangerous subtype of LDL cholesterol. This is great news because there are no known medical drugs that knock down Lp(a), and the only other natural substance that I’ve seen decrease Lp(a) is niacin (see above tip). Take 100 mg of delta tocotrienol per day.
A number of double-blind, placebo-controlled trials suggest that garlic has a positive effect on cholesterol levels. Garlic acts as a potent antioxidant and protects LDL cholesterol from free-radical oxidation. I recommend 500–1,000 mg of enteric-coated softgel garlic capsules (softgels are better absorbed in the body) daily.
More Dr. Sinatra Advice on Cholesterol and Supplements
What other supplements are associated with lower cholesterol? Discover a few other of my favorite cholesterol-lowering supplements.
What nutrient support do you need if you take a statin drug to lower your cholesterol levels? Find out which supplements are a must if you’re on a statin.
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Meet Dr. Sinatra
Dr. Stephen Sinatra is a highly respected and sought-after cardiologist and nutritionist with more than 30 years of clinical practice, research, and study. His integrative approach to heart health focuses on reducing inflammation in the body and maximizing the heart's ability to produce and use energy. More About Dr. Sinatra
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