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Lowering Cholesterol with Supplements


Article by Dr Steve Conroy

Photography by Grace Broadway, RN

High cholesterol is a common health concern worldwide and is a significant risk factor for heart disease and stroke. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States, about 93 million adults aged 20 or older have total cholesterol levels higher than 200 mg/dL, which is considered borderline high. Additionally, approximately 29 million adults in the U.S. have total cholesterol levels higher than 240 mg/dL, which is considered high.

Most physicians treat high cholesterol with pharmaceutical medications, specifically with a medication from the 'statin' drug class. A statin drug, also known as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, is a class of medications primarily used to lower cholesterol levels in the blood. Some commonly prescribed statin medications include:

  1. Atorvastatin (Lipitor)
  2. Simvastatin (Zocor)
  3. Rosuvastatin (Crestor)
  4. Pravastatin (Pravachol)
  5. Lovastatin (Mevacor)
  6. Fluvastatin (Lescol)
  7. Pitavastatin (Livalo)

Here at Boost Performance and Longevity Center, we strive to look for supplements that have the same effect as pharmaceutical drugs so we can swap as many medications as possible and necessary for our patients. In my studies, I have found that Red Yeast Rice has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries, dating back to at least the Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD). Red yeast rice contains compounds known as monacolins, particularly monacolin K, which is chemically identical to the active ingredient in the cholesterol-lowering medication lovastatin. Lovastatin is a type of statin drug commonly used to lower cholesterol levels. Monacolin K works by inhibiting an enzyme in the liver called HMG-CoA reductase, which plays a key role in cholesterol synthesis.

When HMG-CoA reductase is inhibited, the liver produces less cholesterol. As a result, blood cholesterol levels, particularly LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels, decrease. LDL cholesterol is often referred to as "bad" cholesterol because high levels of it can contribute to the buildup of plaque in the arteries, leading to atherosclerosis and an increased risk of heart disease. In addition to monacolins, red yeast rice also contains other compounds such as phytosterols, isoflavones, and monounsaturated fatty acids, which may contribute to its cholesterol-lowering effects.

It's important to note that while red yeast rice can be effective in lowering cholesterol levels, the concentration of monacolins can vary among different products and brands. This variability can affect the consistency and potency of its cholesterol-lowering effects. Furthermore, red yeast rice supplements may also contain other substances that could have interactions or side effects, so it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional before using them, especially if you are already taking cholesterol-lowering medications or have any other health conditions. You can always call Boost PLC to schedule your next visit to explore alternative options in your health journey!

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