Study Finds 6 Cholesterol Supplements Are Ineffective

In a recently released, placebo-controlled trial, six supplements that are frequently advertised for heart health had no impact on LDL (low-density lipoprotein, or “bad”) cholesterol.

Fish oil, garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, plant sterols, and red yeast rice were among the dietary supplements examined.

The study investigated the widespread belief that dietary supplements are superior to prescription drugs like statins in terms of health benefits. An American Heart Association report states that participants who took a low-dose statin throughout the research rather than supplements decreased their blood triglycerides by 19% and their total cholesterol by 24%.

You should think twice before taking over-the-counter vitamins for cholesterol lowering or heart health, according to research author Luke Laffin, MD, of the Cleveland Clinic. Unfortunately, a large portion of American consumers believe dietary supplements to lower cholesterol are just as safe as prescription drugs and just as effective as statins.

The study was presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2022 in Chicago and published on Sunday in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

190 adults with a high risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease—the accumulating of cholesterol plaque in arteries—between the ages of 40 and 75 were included in the study. The low-dose statin medicine rosuvastatin, 5 mg, a placebo or dummy pill, or one of the supplements were given to participants at random to take for 28 days.

LDL cholesterol remained unchanged in participants who took the placebo or any of the supplements. LDL cholesterol decreased by 38% in those using the statin.

According to the American Heart Association, LDL is one of two forms of cholesterol, and high levels of it are linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke because they can restrict and stiffen arteries. In 2020, high LDL cholesterol was expected to be a factor in more than 4.5 million deaths worldwide.

Because it safeguards the heart, the second form of cholesterol, known as high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, is referred to as the “good” cholesterol. The supplement with plant sterols significantly reduced HDL cholesterol in the trial.

The study also revealed that when compared to a placebo, the garlic dietary supplement significantly raised LDL cholesterol.

Despite earlier research showing that red yeast rice and plant sterol supplements may lower LDL cholesterol, the results of our investigation highlight the fact that these dietary supplements’ ingredients can differ. As a result, they do not consistently lower cholesterol, according to Laffin. This study delivers a crucial public health message that typical dietary supplements taken for “cholesterol health” or “heart health” are not expected to have a significant impact on cholesterol levels.

The 28-day treatment duration was cited by the authors as a drawback of the study, and they suggested that additional research may be required to ascertain whether the supplements could affect LDL cholesterol over a longer time frame.

AstraZeneca supported the study.

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