Guidelines for Choosing a Cholesterol Supplement
The American Heart Association advises using exercise and diet to lower cholesterol, but recognizes that supplements can be a useful addition to a healthy lifestyle. When choosing a supplement to help reduce cholesterol levels, it is important to find one that will be effective and harmless. A supplement should also be easy and relatively easy to take since you will need to use it regularly.
A number of supplements are available that are believed to be able to help lower cholesterol levels. It is a good idea to choose a supplement for which there is some scientific proof of efficacy. Garlic supplements, green tea extract and omega 3 oils have all been studied by scientists and may help to reduce cholesterol.
Some supplements contain substances that can also be obtained in food. It may be better to find dietary sources of these beneficial substances rather than relying on supplements. The AHA advises that it is better to obtain antioxidants from food rather than to take vitamin supplements. Whole grains, green tea and garlic can also be incorporated into the diet in order to help reduce cholesterol levels.
It is important to check whether there are any risks or side-effects associated with a supplement. Some side-effects will simply be unpleasant. Fish oil or omega 3 capsules can leave an aftertaste, for example. Others can be harmful. Red yeast rice, which is sometimes recommended as a cholesterol supplement, is potentially very dangerous since it contains a chemical called lovostatin, which is also used as a prescription drug. Since it is impossible to tell how much lovostatin is being taken with red yeast rice supplements, the effects could be very serious and the FDA has warned that red yeast rice supplements should be avoided.
Supplements may also interact with each other or with medications that are being taken. It is important to check for potential interactions before choosing a supplement, and to inform your doctor of any supplements that you are taking or which you intend to begin taking, so that they can advise you about any possible interactions with medication. Supplements such as garlic extract can thin the blood for example, so they should not be taken alongside warfarin or aspirin.
Personal preferences should also be taken into account when choosing a cholesterol lowering supplement. It is important to choose a supplement that it will be easy to take on a regular basis. Ideally, it should be palatable and as pleasant as possible to take.
It is also advisable to consult with a doctor before taking any supplement. The doctor will also be able to test your cholesterol levels and help you to keep track of any improvement. However, it is important not to expect to see a result too quickly, as it can take time for the effects of diet, exercise and cholesterol supplements to be seen in test results.